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The Key and the Flame

(The Key and the Flame #1)

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  336 ratings  ·  54 reviews
Eleven-year-old Holly Shepard wants nothing more than to seek adventure outside of her humdrum American life. She gets her chance at last when her family travels to England and Holly receives an unusual gift: an iron key that unlocks a passage to the dangerous kingdom of Anglielle, where magic is outlawed and those who practice magic are hunted. When her friend Everett and ...more
Hardcover, 480 pages
Published April 2nd 2013 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
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Jeremiah The summary says eight and up, but the book is 480 pages, so my guess would be all ages.

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Average rating 3.79  · 
Rating details
 ·  336 ratings  ·  54 reviews

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Oct 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I think I shall dream of Anglielle tonight. Dream of a world full of magic and mischief - a world like our own and yet not, where to prove you have magic is to make yourself an enemy of the crown - a world that is waiting to be saved by a girl with a key, her younger brother and a boy who wants so badly to be the hero, just this once. Yes, tonight I shall dream of Anglielle.
May 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I love this book!
Kit Grindstaff
May 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Claire Caterer’s debut is a time-traveling, wand-slashing tale, full of an endearing cast of characters—human, animal, and other—who come to the aid of the book’s main character, the plucky and very likeable Holly.

Holly, a bored 11 year old, is in England for the summer with her parents and younger brother, Ben. Holly has longed for mystery and adventure (ah, beware of what you wish for), and the small village near Oxford where her father is posted is the perfect setup for both: sleepy and old,
Trudy Zufelt
May 26, 2013 rated it liked it
Holly wishes for more than her boring life in America offers. When her parents and younger brother, Ben move to an English Village for the summer, Holly receives a peculiar iron key from the cottage's caretaker. The key opens a door in a tree where Holly, Ben and their new English friend, Everett, end up in the medieval kingdom of Anglielle.

Ben and Everett are taken prisoner in the castle and where Holly must learn to use the key which transforms into a wand to rescue them. Magical creatures bot
Jacob Combs
I bought this book for my son, and then I read it all in one sitting after he went to bed. I found myself completely absorbed in the imaginary kingdom portrayed in the book, and in fact found myself wishing I could go visit Anglielle and see it for myself. Though the main character is a girl, the author cleverly switches points of view between Holly and the boys in the book, Ben and Everett, which gives it characters that boys as well as girls can relate to. Watching Holly find strength and spec ...more
Apr 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Loved it! Can't wait for the next installment! That's always the problem in starting a series :0) Love the characters and the story! Can't wait to see what comes next! ...more
Christa Seeley
This review originally posted at More Than Just Magic

The Key and The Flame is a whimsical middle grade adventure. It has a very Narnia feel to it – finding a portal into another world within an every day object. But this time it’s a tree instead of wardrobe. I love stories where ordinary people/kids are whisked away to new places where they encounter adventure, danger and best of all magic. Because of this The Key and The Flame called out to me right away and I knew I had to read it.

Claire M Cat
Erik This Kid Reviews Books
Jun 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Holly Shepard wanted an adventure but she should have been careful what she wished for. She found herself, her brother, and a friend, plunged into a world filled with magic and swords. Now all she wants is to have her “boring” life back. When Holly enters this new world, she becomes an Adept, a person with magical abilities, which is outlawed. When Holly’s brother and their friend are captured by and sentenced to death by the royal family, it is up to Holly to save them and find a way back home. ...more
Mar 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
The Key & the Flame was one of those MG reads that are so wrought with magic & adventure that it makes you wish you were a kid again to be able to enjoy to it's fullest extent.

I love the world of Anglielle, for Caterer's description were lush and magical and they really contrasted with her descriptions of England seen through Holly's eyes who is bored. England is beautiful as is, but the world and the characters really come alive in this Narnialike Anglielle.

Holly, Ben and Everett were fun, con
Ozana Ozzy
Magic and adventures, girl Holly as a hero, her brother and friend as side characters. Book is full of adventures from the begining 'till end. What this MG book misses is that advantures are lukeworm, there is no energy in actions. Characters are interesting but for a book of 450 pages, they lack debth, backstory of it and history of parallel land Anglielle. After reading a book we didn't found out what danger is upon on the creatures that are in danger of some magician, which we didn't see at a ...more
Jeff Raymond
There's a tendency for middle grade fantasy to overstep itself a bit in an attempt to try and out-Potter the competition. The grand epic for this age group sometimes works ( Potter, Books of Beginning, Redwall), but The Key and The Flame ultimately misses.

The book was a bit of a struggle for me, with a fairly cookie-cutter premise. The plot itself is unmemorable enough to be something I needed a reminder for after reading it about seven months ago. Not always a good sign.

People seem to like thi
Demitria Lunetta
Jun 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommended for fans of: MG Fantasy

Any child who loves fantasy will love this book. There’s a definite nod to the Narnia books, but Caterer makes Anglielle wonderfully unique. The POV changes from the smart, plucky Holly to the conflicted Everett, which gives the story more depth, as Everett isn’t exactly the perfect hero. I really like how Holly is untrusting at first, unsure of who is on her side, instead of taking giant leaps of faith common in MG Fantasy. The end also leaves the series wide
J. Mann
Feb 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Holly Shepard is firmly convinced that she is ordinary. She is about to be un-convinced. When a move to England uproots her from her ordinary life...things begin to head in an extraordinary direction. Her new neighbor gives her a strange gift of a key. This key unlocks some interesting fauna. That fauna leads to an unexpected place where Holly is anything but ordinary. Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to wake up one day and find out that you may have the power to save worlds? Holly ...more
J.R. Johansson
Jul 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The Key & The Flame is a gorgeously fun romp through a world bursting with imagination, magic & mystery. I loved it!
Nancy Cavanaugh
Dec 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fantasy middle graders will love! Plenty of action, adventure and suspense with characters who will make readers smile!
Autumn Nester
Mar 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was the first middle grade that I have read in a while, and it was really good. A lot of the tropes that I don't like about YA books were actually the opposite of what was in this book. The characters also felt more realistic, although older than their ages were said to be in the book. Like I have never seen a character with allergies before. That was such a good touch, and the author didn't use it at one point and completely disregard it at others, so I enjoyed that. It did remind me a lit ...more
Jun 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
Despite all of the fun things about this book, the inconsistencies in Holly's character constantly pulled me out of the story, and left me unable to get absorbed into it. The quality of middle-grade fiction depends greatly on the strength of the protagonist's voice, and Holly was too inconsistent to be believable. In many of her actions and words, she's every inch the extraordinarily ordinary 11-year old she's presented as. Often however, it's impossible to believe her words could come from the ...more
Apr 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.7⭐ but rounding it up to a 4.
It just feels wrong to give it 3 when I didn't expect to find this book as interesting as it is.
This was an action packed book which I thought was too childish for me but no it was still fun! I'm excited to read another part soon and find out more about Holly's adventures.
Nov 20, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. It was a fun, magical read but it felt a little messy near the end being that it was set up for a sequel... And also not. Fun though!
Anne Rhys
Aug 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Great book! I thought it was a little slow in places, and the ending wasn't as satisfying, but it was a good middle grade tale! ...more
Jayce Senter
Jan 25, 2014 rated it it was ok
AR level: 4.9

Grade appropriate: 4th and up

I was so excited about this book when I picked it up. (I usually don't start anything I'm not excited about...) And the beginning was good. I liked Holly. She was relateable and realistic. I loved the little village that they move to in England. The setting was charming and I was dying to visit. But as soon as they step through the tree into the alternate world I was gone. Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge Fantasy fan. I love it! But this world... I didn't
Jun 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Holly is a young girl who is a dreamer. We can all relate to that on some level. Those of us obsessed with books, especially in the realm of fantasy, have a bit of the dreamer inside of us, right? We read to travel to distant faraway places that could never really exist in the world in which we live. Or could they?

This story takes us on an adventure like few others. A young girl, and inadvertently her brother and a friend, travel through a tree in the forest and end up in a place that is strange
Jan 15, 2014 rated it liked it
The Key & the Flame by Claire M. Caterer
Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2013
469 pages
Recommended for grades 4-6

As I was moving through this story I had just the right student in mind to give it to next. Because this book is certainly not for the average reader, this book is one for our readers that love getting lost in a book, the longer-the better. And my little Harry Potter loving reader will have fun with this hefty fantasy.

I loved the beginning of this book. A family moves to the English
Jun 05, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 5th-grade-plus
I wanted to put this book down over and over. I just could not get any reading momentum going with the story. A girl, Holly, is given a key that unlocks a passage to another world, and she travels there with her brother and another boy. The new world is part medieval, part fantasy (unicorns, fairy people...). There were too many characters for me. I couldn't get interested in any one person. Holly is always talking about what she is unable to do, and I never feel like there is a good turning poi ...more
Sonja P.
Aug 20, 2013 rated it it was ok
*Sigh*. I wanted to like this, but it felt a little too derivative. Starts off in a magical wood that goes other places and has a somewhat Edmund character, along with the "we can get back a different way" and wise and old guardian who extends hope in the "real world?" HMMMMMMM. I mean, maybe if I hadn't read Narnia till the cover fell off of each edition, but as it is, it just reminded me of my childhood joy of discovering the wardrobe for the first time...and made me wish this was half as magi ...more
Sep 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was a pretty good book. The plot was engaging and the characters were enjoyable. I especially liked Jade. I really liked the mythology and world of Angielle. The Shakespearean English that the inhabitants of Angielle spoke in gave me joy as I read. It was very delightful.I found Everett's jealousy of Holly realistic, but also very annoying. I didn't really like his character, and it also annoys me that he stole the wand. That's just me though. The book is wonderful and I definitely recommen ...more
Aug 21, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: series, action, modern
This was a pretty good read. However, a lot of the elements felt (to me, at least), recycled. Maybe this is simply because I've read a good quantity of fantasy, but the story didn't come across as being very original.
There wasn't much depth as far as the characters, and the setting/minor characters seemed reused. I did like the idea of the key changing into something else when it left out world. Aside from that though, I found nothing particularly memorable about this one. I may or may not pick
Polly Holyoke
Aug 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is one terrific debut fantasy for middlegrade readers. I loved Holly and the wonderful and quirky collection of magical animals who help her to achieve her quest. The world building was excellent, particularly the transitions between the two worlds. I also liked the way she handled sibling rivilries and conflicts between Holly and her brothers. I was rooting for this courageous and resourceful heroine and hoping she would triumph, and I think many young readers will as well.
Kim Briggs
Oct 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
When I was 12, I fell in love with medieval tales after reading The Once and Future King by T.H. White. This year I fell in love all over again. The Key & The Flame by Claire Caterer is a modern spin on medieval times with knights, swords, and magic. I was hooked by the first page and could not put it down. Caterer's delivery of Middle English entertains without a heavy hand. I recommend The Key & The Flame to any reader searching for adventure. Loved it!!! ...more
Erin Pauley
Feb 19, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: middle-grade
Holly Shepard wants an adventure and she actually ends up finding one. I enjoyed the story but thought the book was a little slow moving. The world created by Caterer was fun but not as fantastical as I was hoping it would be. The only thing I found to be truly magical was the golden salamander and the wandwright. I would recommend it but it certainly wasn't up there with similar stories like Inkheart or 13 Treasures. ...more
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Claire M. Caterer is the author of two children's fantasy novels, The Key and the Flame, and its sequel, The Wand and the Sea. She has also published nonfiction articles as well as several short stories for adults. She writes and lives in the suburbs of Kansas City with one husband, one daughter, two dogs, and a host of imaginary friends. ...more

Other books in the series

The Key and the Flame (2 books)
  • The Wand & the Sea (The Key and the Flame #2)

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