The Key In The Lock

by Beth Underdown

Relationship Stories Historical fiction Book Club Recommendations Star Books Crime and Mystery Family Drama Horror and supernatural fiction Literary Fiction Action Adventure

LoveReading Expert Review of The Key In The Lock

An exquisitely eloquent, provocative and powerful historical mystery set in Cornwall at the beginning of the twentieth century.

I read this beautifully stormy dark gothic mystery while perched high up on the edge of my seat. A dreadful fire has haunted Ivy for years, she mourns two deaths, and now seeks the truth. Beth Underdown’s debut  The Witchfinder's Sister was a bestseller and winner of the Historical Writers’ Association Debut Crown Award 2017, this is her second novel and it more than lived up to my expectations. The two time frames, sitting either side of the First World War, are initially fractured before they gradually fuze together. Information dripped and then seeped into the pages before hiding in my thoughts. The story is secretive, occasionally sullen as it begins to unfurl. Cornwall, and the house in particular cast a brooding presence which adds to the intensity of this tale. The characters are perfectly imperfect, trust is a scare commodity, and each casts a deep shadow. I was held in limbo while I read, totally immersed in the writing. Expressively powerful The Key in the Lock thrills and chills in equal measure. Chosen as a Liz Robinson Pick of the Month and LoveReading Star Book, this historical mystery is a worthy contender for the very top of your reading list.

Liz Robinson

The Key In The Lock Synopsis

I still dream, every night, of Polneath on fire. Smoke unravelling from an upper window, and the terrace bathed in a hectic orange light . . . Now I see that the decision I made at Polneath was the only decision of my life. Everything marred in that one dark minute.

By day, Ivy Boscawen mourns the loss of her son Tim in the Great War. But by night she mourns another boy - one whose death decades ago haunts her still.

For Ivy is sure that there is more to what happened all those years ago: the fire at the Great House, and the terrible events that came after. A truth she must uncover, if she is ever to be free.

But once you open a door to the past, can you ever truly close it again?

From the award-winning author of The Witchfinder's Sister comes a captivating story of burning secrets and buried shame, and of the loyalty and love that rises from the ashes. 

What To Read After The Key In The Lock

Northanger Abbey
The Clockwork Girl
The Widow's Secret
The Women at Hitler's Table

Beth Underdown Press Reviews

The Key in the Lock is an absolute triumph! Dark, clever and utterly enthralling, this is historical fiction - and storytelling - at its absolute best. I can't wait to read whatever Beth Underdown writes next -- Elizabeth Macneal, author of THE DOLL FACTORY and CIRCUS OF WONDERS

Underdown's latest is a gothic mystery of the highest order. Chilling, sad, beautiful, and so elegantly conjured, it's a story that summons du Maurier but retains ghosts all its own. I raced through it, my heart in my mouth. Superb -- Emma Stonex, author of THE LAMPLIGHTERS

The Key in the Lock is the perfect gothic novel. It has secrets, guilt, brilliant characters, and a grand old house built on a terrible past. An absolute corker -- Stuart Turton, author of THE SEVEN DEATHS OF EVELYN HARDCASTLE

Absorbing, beautifully written . . . Everything I enjoy in a gothic mystery -- Rosie Andrews, author of THE LEVIATHAN

This is a novel of true elegance, deftly and satisfyingly plotted. I expect impeccable prose from Beth Underdown but The Key In The Lock is also wise, thoughtful, and profoundly moving -- Imogen Hermes Gowar, author of THE MERMAID AND MR HANCOCK

The Key in the Lock will enthral fans of The Witchfinder's Sister. A brooding Cornish tale of a grieving mother obsessively unpicking the lies around the death of the child of the man she secretly loves, it'll also recruit fans of Du Maurier & Waters. -- Patrick Gale, author of NOTES FROM AN EXHIBITION

Deliciously intriguing from the very first sentence, with shades of Du Maurier and Dunmore. I was hooked by this exquisitely written tale of secrets and lies -- Sara Collins, author of THE CONFESSIONS OF FRANNIE LANGTON

A smouldering gothic mystery that slowly envelopes you, The Key in the Lock is a novel of repressed desire and well-tended grief - getting to the very heart of the grudges we hold against ourselves -- Joseph Knox, author of TRUE CRIME STORY

Brilliantly twisty, dripping with mystery and utterly heartbreaking -- Emily Koch, author of IF I DIE BEFORE I WAKE and KEEP HIM CLOSE

I was completely enthralled by this poetic, beautifully conceived and executed mystery full of secrets and subtlety -- Imogen Robertson, author of KING OF KINGS

Reads as if a classic. Eerie, immersive and compelling. This is a book to savour -- Essie Fox, author of THE LAST DAYS OF LEDA GREY

A Cornish landscape evocative of Daphne du Maurier . . . brilliantly plotted -- Louise Hare, author of THIS LOVELY CITY

The perfect read for an autumnal weekend. Atmospheric and rich with evocative detail, I found myself in tears by the end -- Harriet Tyce

Engrossing . . . conveys emotion and excitement so elegantly -- Adele Geras

Captivating and elegant and undoubtedly a future classic -- Lucie McKnight Hardy, author of WATER SHALL REFUSE THEM

I was captivated by the characters, the story and the sinuous, seamless plotting -- Sarah Hilary, author of FRAGILE and the D.I. Marnie Rome series

It's eerie, claustrophobic atmosphere is reminiscent of Du Maurier . . . there's a poignancy to the writing that's so beautiful -- Emma Carroll, author of LETTERS FROM THE LIGHTHOUSE

Atmospheric, dark and compelling: an exquisitely crafted mystery' -- Tammy Cohen, author of THE WEDDING PARTY

Marvellous . . . gorgeously taut -- Will Menmuir, author of THE MANY

A dark and poignant Cornish tale of grief, love and the unpicking of long-buried secrets. Set in 1888 and 1918 with shades of Du Maurier and Sarah Waters -- Anna Mazzola, author of THE CLOCKWORK GIRL

Beth Underdown has created a brilliantly plotted mystery, a compelling gothic tale that kept me guessing to the end -- Louise Hare, author of THIS LOVELY CITY

Other editions of this book

ISBN: 9780241503300
Publication date: 27/01/2022
Format: Hardback

View All Editions

About Beth Underdown

Beth Underdown lectures in Creative Writing at the University of Manchester. Her first novel, The Witchfinder's Sister, is based on the life of the 1640s witchfinder Matthew Hopkins. Beth's interest in seventeenth-century England was sparked by the work of her great-uncle David Underdown, one of that period's foremost historians. She came across a brief mention of Matthew Hopkins while reading a book about midwifery, igniting an interest which turned into an all-consuming hunt for the elusive truth about this infamous killer.

More About Beth Underdown

More Books By Beth Underdown

The Key In The Lock
The Key In The Lock
The Key In The Lock
View All Books By Beth Underdown

Share this book