Finally, Pandora magazine’s editorial assistant Pandora English goes underground in 1 Addams Avenue to the basement, where architect and psychical researcher Dr Edmund Barrett kept his lab. Unfortunately, it seems more stereotypical of laboratories in horror films rather than the in-depth research for which the author is renowned. The metal chair becomes important, though. And good news: Pandora meets the doctor himself. Bad news: he’s not alone. A dark spirit is attached to him as a “passenger” (yes, I thought of Dexter, too), and Pandora’s ghostly boyfriend Lieutenant Luke isn’t the only one at stake.
The Skeleton Key has some genuinely scary moments, thanks to the investigation into Barrett’s experiments I’ve anticipated. By the mystery is far from over. The doctor’s involvement with black magic can’t have been the only thing he was up to, and hopefully future novels will further explore this. (Book 4, The Cobra Queen, will be published in 2013.)
I like this series, though I still can’t relate to Pandora. She’s very much a Special Snowflake (“the Seventh”) with paranormal abilities and an extremely enviable wardrobe (technically Great-Aunt Celia’s), not to mention a great job and a Park Avenue-wealthy love interest. But her voice seems distant, and strangely…well, English in my head, instead of contemporary New York. It doesn’t quite fit. And Pandora hasn’t yet solved the mystery of Celia, of why a supposedly ninety-year-old looks so young.
The Skeleton Key is interesting and enjoyable, yet seems derivative rather than fresh. It’s disappointing, since I was expecting it to be the best in the series so far. It’s a good read, but lacking a spark, which can be said of all the books so far. Of course I’m looking forward to reading more, but I get the feeling it will never be completely awesome. Then again, so few stories are.
“Pandora English’s New York Map” would be an excellent promotional piece, highlighting various landmarks that are relevant to Pandora’s life and adventures, with photos showing how the places look in real life. Particularly awesome if a reader finds themself in New York, or someone just wanting to better picture the locations (me).