Keyflame by Tallulah Lucy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Keyflame was an immensely enjoyable read that not just hit a lot of points I like, but also handled typical tropes in very original and satisfying ways. I really enjoyed how nothing was quite what it seemed: from protagonist Lilah, to mysterious Kalin, and even idyllic college town Grahamstown itself. Lucy deftly handles her characters, setting, and plot twists, showcasing her storytelling skill with each development. Just when I thought I had one plot figured out, she neatly twisted it in another direction; I didn’t feel disappointed or taken for a ride, though–all I could think was, “Well, of COURSE that’s how it had to happen!”
Full of colorful characters, sneaky twists, and magical turns, Keyflame is a winner. The first person narration works very well, and Lilah’s realization that things aren’t what they seem is handled really well, as is her development and growth. The romance is handled nicely, and scenes of a certain nature tastefully fade to black. As a US reader, I found the descriptions of South Africa wonderful, and the Afrikaans phrases sprinkled in added immensely to this setting (a helpful glossary is included at the end). Some parallel-world fantasy novels seem like they could just be lifted up and set mostly anywhere; but Keyflame couldn’t really take place anywhere else and still have the same heart.
Keyflame will be well worth your time and attention!
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Find out more about Tallulah Lucy at https://tallulahlucy.com/