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The Secret of Isobel Key

(Isobel Key #1)

3.53  ·  Rating details ·  474 ratings  ·  121 reviews
Lou is in the middle of a quarter-life crisis. Fresh out of college, she’s unemployed and unsure of herself. But when she gets the chance to escape to Scotland with her best friend, it could be the answer to her quest for self-discovery. The trip is not at all what she expected, especially when her tour guide turns out to be the dreamy historian Brian, and together they em ...more
Published December 2013 by Bloomsbury Spark (first published September 14th 2012)
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Average rating 3.53  · 
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Jan 16, 2014 rated it liked it
Recommended to Arlene by: Blog Tour
Louisa Ann had recently graduated from Leslie University in Boston and was still working retail at a local bookstore as she took the time to figure out her next steps. When she finally had enough and suddenly quit her job, she found herself at a crossroads of what to do next. Luckily, she was offered the opportunity of a lifetime to travel to Scotland with her friend Tammy, where she was inexplicably driven to research the witch hunt trials from the 1700’s. As she digs deeper into the case of Is ...more
In a moment of clarity gone awry, Lou walks out on her job preparing for the nervous breakdown she more than likely will have once it all sinks in. When her best friend announces that they are going to Scotland for the Holidays, the timing couldn’t be better. A perfect diversion and an exciting adventure are just what she needs at the moment. Lou finds herself immersed in a mystery about the history behind the innocents who were accused of witchcraft in the seventeenth century. Upon her discover ...more
Elizabeth(The Book Whisperer)
I loved this book! witch trials and accent accusations of witchcraft have always been an interest of mine and with the Scottish back drop, this book delivered the goods!
Jan 26, 2014 rated it did not like it
Just not my type of read
Taylor Caitlin
I received this book in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway.

I really wanted to like this book. Scotland- yes! Witches- yes! A twenty-six year old girl looking for love- sure, seems like I could related to that...but I didn't. The main character,Lou, is a twenty-six year old college grad who works in a bookstore, lives with her childhood best friend/roommate in Boston, and has over-bearing wealthy parents in Connecticut that pay her bills for her. The book begins with Lou in a "dark place" or "quar
Kayleigh Grian
*Disclaimer: I did receive a free ARC copy of the book to review. However this did not influence my review in any way*

In her debut novel, The Burning of Isobel Key, Jen McConnel transports readers to the beautiful land of Scotland where she shows us the lives of two different women with so much in common, yet separated by centuries. Louisa begins to feel like a complete failure when she quits her dead-end job right before the holidays. She has no idea what she wants to do with the rest of her li
T.A. Maclagan
Jan 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
With Outlander coming to our T.V. screens, I got the hankering for some more tales from Scotland. There's just something about Scotland. Maybe it's the starkly beautiful landscape, the tumultuous history or the kilt clad men but Scotland has an undeniable pull for me. So I decided to check out The Secret of Isobel Key by Jen McConnel. This is a book out of the relatively new Bloomsbury Spark digital imprint and if Isobel Key is anything to go by then we can look forward to some good stuff coming ...more
Sep 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
McConnel interweaves Lou’s modern day narrative of frustration as she deals with her own stalled life into Isobel’s story as she battles fear, ignorance and bigotry in the 1600′s. The alternating chapters echo one another brilliantly as the story unfolds in all it’s complexity. These are real characters, with real faults and real needs. The sections pertaining to Isobel were undoubtedly my favorite, rich in context and detail. Truly engrossing historical novels are not always easy to pull off an ...more
Rachel Wu
Jan 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The contemporary new adult genre is not what I usually tend to read. I normally lean towards the paranormal and fantasy, however, there are times when I step out of my vampire/werewolf comfort zone and try something new. It is rare for me to find contemporary fiction that I truly enjoy, and The Burning of Isobel Key by Jen McConnel is one of those rarities.

Author Jen McConnel takes you on Lou’s journey as she travels to Scotland on a vacation. There amongst the castle ruins Lou learns about the
3.5 stars

Doesn't that cover look amazing? As is the book.

I think this is my introduction to the genre of New Adult and I liked it very much.

Wow! What a book. Enthralling, scintillating and just beyond words.

As my habit of not reading a book blurb goes, I thought this would be one of those books about going to a new city and finding the love of your life but the title did confuse me. Not for long though when I came to know that this one was not one of 'those' books.

I like how the book shifts betw
Noree Cosper
First, I have to say the opening scene really grabs you. It leave you with a feeling of discomfort but you want to know more. Isobel's entire story really tugged at my heart.

I was really able to connect with Lou. I too have struggled to find my place in the world. And that's what this book is about. You get to journey with Lou as she finds herself and comes to terms with her religion.Of course I would be remiss to mention, but this is a book with a Wiccan main character. We need more of these!

Hannah Stewart
Mar 29, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish
No. No. I will not subject myself to something so facetious and factually wrong. (If you're going to see Eileen Doonan Castle, you'd be better off staying on Skye than traveling back to Inverness only to travel back to Skye the next day. Grr. Not to mention, Christmas time... most attractions and tours would be closed. Double grr). Clearly some authors don't bother with a wonderful thing called 'research'. We do have the internet nowadays, amazing tool that it is.
The characters are beyond shall
Dec 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finished
Jen pens "The Burning of Isobel Key" in a well developed plot where you thought at times you are right there with them. I found the characters to be well developed, believable, relateable and realistic. I enjoyed this book so much that I didn't want it to end. A must read paranormal romance filled with history and mystery that you really don't want to miss.

This review is based on a complimentary copy which was provided for an honest review.
Keren Hughes

Absolutely adored this book - review to come on Friday - oh and did you know, this fabulous book is FREE as part of Black Friday? You really should grab a copy!
Chris Torretta
Nov 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have to admit, I started reading this, getting into the characters not thinking a thing about the title, and then it hit me! This girl you’re getting to know is the girl that is going to be burned! I wanted to put the book down straight away!!! But it was so compelling, her story drove me on, hoping against hope for a better outcome. But the interesting part of it all was that although you’re getting to know Isobel who lived back in 1667, you’re also getting to know Louisa, who lives in the pr ...more
Krystal Willingham
After finishing The Burning of Isobel Key, I am hoping that I can explain how I feel about this book in a way that you can understand because honestly it was simply amazing. It is hard to find the right words because there are so many emotions flowing through me right now. This book has made me angry, laugh, and cry and even made my heart flutter in anticipation.

The Burning of Isobel Key is about a young woman named Louisa and her quest to find the truth about the witch trials that happened in S
Oct 07, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Note: I received a free PDF copy of this book for a blog tour. However, it did not influence my review in any way.

So, as I have said above, I didn't really think of the Blog Tour as I was reading this book. Honestly, it was pretty good! It passed by pretty quickly for 259 pages( Been reading big books lately). I didn't even skim and scan, either. (Which I pretty much do for most ebooks I receive if I lose interest in them.)

So, the narrating is a bit interesting. It alternates between Modern Day,
Christianna Marks
You can read this and many other reviews on my YA book blog The White Unicorn!

An Open Letter To The Secret of Isobel Key,

You were actually a lot cooler then I was expecting, which is a good thing. I liked that you were a quick read that came together rather nicely, and that you still kept me guessing a bit. I also enjoyed the fact that I've been to most of the places that you talked about in Scotland, it made reading you more personal. It also gave me a mad case of wanderlust, so my wallet than
Jan 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
This was a great book that hit just about every emotion on the scale! Historical fiction isn't generally one of my preferred genres, but this was really a blend of both historical and contemporary times. Lou and Tammy head to Scotland for the holidays on what was a working trip for Tammy. Lou is a bit of a mess, floundering in her life and unsure of where she is going. On a tour, Lou and Tammy meet a gorgeous Highlander named Brian, who inadvertently changes Lou's life. It is by chance that she ...more

“When Lou travels to Scotland, she’s a mess. She’s twenty-six, unemployed, and unsure of herself. It doesn’t help that she’s traveling with Tammy, her best friend, who is everything Lou is not.

At first, the trip pushes Lou towards the brink of depression, but then she meets Brian, a handsome local tour guide. When Brian tells the tourists about the countless witches burned in Scotland, Lou starts to listen. And when she discovers information about Isobel Key, one of the victims of the seventee

Vibina Venugopal
Nov 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The lives of Isobel from the early age and Lou come to a cross road in the most unexpected circumstances..
Isobel is a caring and a kind midwife/healer who lived in the late 17th century..Brought up in a family filled with love and warmth...She is only too glad when she has a baby sister but by twist of fate and horrible choice she spends the rest of her life all alone in a cottage away from the town on her natural talent of healing and being a midwife...With her sister's second pregnancy(both s
Arianne The Bookworm on the Loose
Enter the world of the past and bring on the memories to the present.

It's almost the holidays, and Louisa found herself jobless after she decided to quit her job in a bookstore. Her bestfriend, Tammy, however, seemed to have gotten all the luck in the world. Soon, when Tammy asked Louisa to go with her on a business trip to Scotland, she was happy to accompany her without telling her bestfriend her predicaments. And soon her quest for her spiritual self unfolded.

The beautiful and enticing countr
Nancy (The Avid Reader)
The following review is my opinion and not a paid review. I was given a copy of The Burning of Isobel Key from the author for a review via Bewitching Book Tours.

Lou was almost 27 years old when she quit her job at the bookstore. She was just fed up with the customers. They was always asking some question or another that didn't make much sense. The day that she walked out was no different from any other day. Lou had a degree from Duke University and didn't know what she wanted to do with her lif
Danielle Young
3.5 While this book is not my usual book I have to say that the story definitely had me intrigued. I love stories that involve witches but the witches in this story were not the typical supernatural witches we have come to know and love. Instead we are transported to a time when normal people are accused of being a witch because they are just a little bit different. Much like the Salem witch trials in the United States this book focuses on the witch trials of Scotland.

I really enjoyed following
Patrice Caldwell
The Burning of Isobel Key is the first "New Adult" book I've read (that was actually labeled so). And as such I was very excited and at the same time putting on my "critical glasses" to see if books in the new genre would live up to all the praise they've received. A few hours later with no recollection of any bathroom or food breaks, I had finished the book and...I LOVED IT!!!

The book follow's, Lou, who is in a quarter life crisis: at age 27 she has no job and has no idea what she wants to do w
Thomas Winship
Sep 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“The Burning of Isobel Key,” the debut novel by Jen McConnel, is a well-crafted piece of fiction. It bounces between the present and the distant past, telling the stories of two women—both of whom are searching for purpose, understanding, and love.

Lou is a directionless, somewhat unmotivated, bookstore clerk who embarks on a trip to Scotland—a holiday/vacation/soul-searching sojourn—immediately after quitting her job. Of course, little does she know how much that trip will change the course of h
Beth Cutwright
Sep 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book immensely as there has always been a lure for me to the Salem witch trials. I enjoyed the characters and could relate to Lou and Tammy's best friend relationship. And I loved Brian the tour guide.

I liked how chapters about the modern day vacation in Scotland was interspersed with interludes reverting back to the 17th century and the life and times of Isobel Key.

And it seemed like modern day folk of St Andrews had some insight into Lou's bloodline, even if she knew nothing abo
Oct 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The story begins with Lou quitting her job at the store she’s been working at for a number of years. She knows she can find better with her college degree. Her best friend, and roommate, Tammy was just given a promotion and assignment in Scotland. This is the perfect time for a vacation for Lou. Plans have been made and they reach Scotland.

Tammy has a few meetings to attend when they first arrive, but they schedule a guided tour of the Highlands. During their tour, both women take a liking to
Charity Bradford
Dec 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fun little read. McConnel did a nice job comparing the fear of witchcraft with modern day Wiccan beliefs. Lou's soul searching came across as real and believable. Ultimately, her search for herself leads her to find more than she ever hoped for.

I really enjoyed the back and forth between the present and the past. In fact, I believe I enjoyed Isobel's story more than Lou's. I wanted more of that story, the details, the every day. Kudos to McConnel for her twist ending. You expect one t
Alice Kaltman
Oct 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The Secret of Isobel Key wonderfully merges historical fiction and contemporary romance. McConnel crafts a multi-layered romantic mystery with the right amount of well-timed reveals. But The Secret of Isobel Key is more than just mystery and romance. I see it as a feminist tale in which Isobel of the past, and Lou of the present, experience joys and sorrows in their quests for self discovery. Both heroines make mold-breaking decisions and sacrifices, fighting the tides of convention. The period ...more
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Jen McConnel is an award winning author. She writes Young Adult and New Adult fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. When she isn’t writing, she can be found on her yoga mat, teaching, or wandering off on another adventure.

Follow Jen on Twitter @Jen_McConnel, and visit to learn more.

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Isobel Key (2 books)
  • Her Secret Inheritance

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