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The Golden Key

2.67  ·  Rating details ·  332 ratings  ·  109 reviews
An extraordinary, page-turning Gothic mystery set in the wilds of the Norfolk Fens from the BSFA-shortlisted author.

London, 1901. After the death of Queen Victoria the city heaves with the uncanny and the eerie. Séances are held and the dead are called upon from darker realms.

Samuel Moncrieff, recovering from a recent tragedy of his own, meets Helena Walton-Cisneros, one o
Paperback, 323 pages
Published February 18th 2020 by Titan Books
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Average rating 2.67  · 
Rating details
 ·  332 ratings  ·  109 reviews

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Feb 23, 2020 rated it it was ok
I so anticipated liking this book. The blurb on the back cover pulled me in with the promise of all of my favourite things...seances, disappearing girls, strong female characters, folk tales, dark magic and all set in the liminal space of the Fens, one of my favourite places in the world. I had such high hopes but I soon realised that I wasn'tenjoying the reading experience very much as I found it almost impossible to retain any of the story. I was re-reading passages several times and when
Liz Barnsley
Feb 08, 2020 rated it liked it
I really enjoyed The Golden Key during it's opening chapters, atmospheric and cleverly written but after about the halfway mark I felt it got a little muddled.

It's a bit jump around in its plotting and whilst I engaged with the characters I didn't feel I got to know them enough over the course of the story.

I loved the gothic aspects of it and the beautifully descriptive Victorian era but overall it was a bit messy and the ending was a bit of a let down

Will be interested to see what the author
Feb 14, 2020 rated it did not like it
I really didn't enjoy this book. The first chapter was promising, but I couldn't get into it after that. I have no clue what happened for 350 pages long. ...more
Apr 20, 2020 rated it it was ok
This book made me feel dumb. Not in a “these concepts are really smart and I just need to do some research to understand what’s happening” way, but in a “What did I miss? Did I accidentally skip a chapter” way. It was incredibly disjointed. I kept having to go back to see if I’d missed something. I hadn’t. It just jumped forward in large chunks, and switched points of view at really odd times. It might have been intentional, meant to confuse the reader. It definitely worked.

The writing had an ee
Vincent Desjardins
This book was a real disappointment which is a shame because it has so many elements that I typically enjoy - end of the Victorian era setting, spiritualism, seances, fairyland, changelings, mystery, spooky atmosphere, strong female character, etc. But unfortunately the book's structure seemed a bit of a mess. It was like the author had constructed a connect the dots puzzle, and probably had a good idea in her own head of what she was attempting, but she left out too many of the dots for a compl ...more
Helen Carolan
Mar 01, 2020 rated it it was ok
I had such high hopes for this one. Sounded like it was right up my street. An eerie Norfolk setting a mysterious manor house and the main players all having secrets and a link to the mysterious house. Oh and I forgot to mention it's one of my fave genres.Gothic. Sadly it didn't do too much for me. Very disjointed and confusing. Such a shame as it did have the odd moment when something fab occured. Sadly there weren't enough of those moments. Disappointing. ...more
Feb 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Very good gothic thriller with some wonderful use of atmosphere; smart plotting and a great look at the role and erasure of women in the period. Also wonderfully eerie and perfect for stormy nights

Full review -

Maggie May
Jan 15, 2020 rated it it was ok
A good idea poorly executed. All of the vagueness and skipping around was obviously meant to create mystery but it just kept me from getting into the story.
Feb 02, 2020 rated it did not like it
I had to DNF this one at 64 pages... I tried to read more but I just couldn’t get into it. The writing seems very stilted and there is no real sense of a plot... maybe it gets better further on but I was literally forcing myself to keep reading when I had no desire to.
The Coycaterpillar Reads
Feb 23, 2020 rated it did not like it
Had to DNF @25%

I couldn't connect with the characters or discriptions. A real pity.
Mar 30, 2020 rated it it was ok
I...have no idea what happened in this confusing mess of a book. Atmospheric? Absolutely. Coherent? Uhhhhh...
Apr 06, 2020 rated it it was ok
I was really disappointed in this book. The premise was so intriguing but the storyline was disjointed & scattered. Almost as if they wrote the book in a hurry without filling developing the story
Apr 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
*I voluntarily reviewed this book from the Publisher.

An atmospheric historical tale that will give you the chills and make you want to don your detective hat and figure out the mystery.

It's 1901 and England has become fascinated with the afterworld. Séances, ghostly spirits, and haunting nightmares are commonplace and everyone is searching for answers from the other side. Lady Matthews is determined to uncover the truth about a past tragedy and hires someone with special qualities for the job.
Mar 11, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Andover Library
Feb 23, 2020 rated it liked it
This is a book that needs time dedicated to it. Some books I find I can pick up and put down in the small gaps of time I find to squeeze in extra reading, The Golden Key wasn’t one of those books. I read the first couple of chapters in the bit-by-bit style but I was loosing track of the characters and getting a little lost. However once I sat down and gave this book the time it needed I found myself wrapped up in this hugely atmospheric and eerie tale.

The writing is quite fluid and the jump betw
Kal ★ Reader Voracious

Part supernatural, part detective story with Gothic vibes? Yes please.

I received a finished copy the publisher, Titan Books, in exchange for my honest review. This has not affected my opinions.
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Oct 30, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Nothing happened! How could you go a third of the way into a story - any story! - without anything happening!

This had all the promises of a good book - Magic! Mystery! Victorian England! - and then nothing ever happened. More seriously, there were times when the descriptions felt as though the editor finally had enough and threw the copy at the wall because even after draft five, nothing ever happened!
Jun 10, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2020
I wanted to love this, and I’d forgive a lot of its incoherent and inchoate rambling on the strength of its fantastic creepy atmosphere, but ultimately I believe that a gothic requires closure, if not explanation.
Benjamin Appleby-Dean
Mar 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lgbt
A haunting, liminal piece of work that hides most of its horror in the spaces between the pages, in the unsaid rather than the described. Extraordinary.
Feb 29, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: from-publisher
You can read my full review on my blog, The Writerly Way, here.

Many thanks to Titan Books for a finished copy in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

I’m a very simple woman. I see Gothic and a hint of the supernatural and I am there. The Golden Key sounds like a perfect combination of ghosts and superstition and haunted buildings … and it was a good combination of these things, but it left some things to be desired.

The Golden Key is a haunting, atmospheric Gothic tale that artfully blend
Feb 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Golden Key is a wonderful debut novel by this author and I’m grateful to Titan books for providing me with copy for review, historical is a genre that I rarely get the opportunity to read and with the addition of some wonderful fantasy elements this book ticked a lot of boxes for me. The setting as the blurb explains, is in a Britain shortly after the loss of Queen Victoria, the seance scene has skyrocketed along with the naysayers, what is without doubt though, is a number of missing childr ...more
Kym's Open Books
The writing style in this book is very unique and took me quite awhile to get used to. It took a bit more time for me to read and absorb the information. There are many dark twists with seances, ghosts, a spooky house and missing kids. I feel like this should’ve grabbed my attention more but it didn’t. I also had a hard time following POV as they were changing a lot and sometimes I wouldn’t notice the change.
I loved reading about Helena and her challenging female roles and I especially loved re
Kelly Van Damme
Feb 13, 2020 rated it liked it
Hi and welcome to my review of The Golden Key!

Folk tales and dark magic, seances and mediums, a twenty-year-old mystery waiting to be solved AND a pretty cover?! This little blogger was all in! The Golden Key delivers all these elements, and does it with verve. Reminiscent of Rebecca and the novels of Laura Purcell, The Golden Key starts out with the kind of Gothic gloom I simply adore; the prose marvellous, detailed but not overly so; the story incredibly atmospheric, dripping with a brooding t
Kate (Looking Glass Reads)
Traditional Victorian gothic is mixed with elements of mystery and fantasy in The Golden Key by Marian Womack. In this, as of yet, standalone novel, the supernatural clash against psychology and detective work. Underneath that lies something more than the Victorian indulgence for séances and tarot readings. There’s something uncanny happening, something that can’t be explained by normal measures but can be felt and seen nonetheless.

The book is told from multiple viewpoints—a young man with a str
I was sent this review copy for free by Titan Books for the purposes of providing an honest review.

Trigger & content warnings are under spoiler tags as there are a few of them.

(view spoiler)
Nicole Sweeney
Mar 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Review originally posted on The Bibliophile Chronicles.

When I first read the synopsis of The Golden Key (and saw that stunning cover) I was completely intrigued. The story follows Samuel-Montcrieff, a young man recovering from a recent tragedy and residing in Victorian London. He encounters a lady named Helena Walton-Cisneros, who finds herself caught up in solving the mystery of three young women who disappeared in the Norfolk Fens twenty years ago - but all is not as it seems, and the Fens are
Dan Bassett
Feb 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
1901, Queen Victoria has passed away and England is in mourning and caught up in the craze of seances and contacting those they have lost.
Helena Walton is known for her uncanny ability to find things that are lost and is hired by Lady Matthews to solve a twenty year old mystery of her three stepdaughters who vanished on the Fens of Norfolk.
However, the Fens are the land of dark magic, folk lore and the devil himself....
Why have children been disappearing? Why have some been found catatonic? And
Jo Hindhaugh
Jun 21, 2020 rated it did not like it
Reading the blurb for this book, it sounds like the perfect book for me: historical setting, mysterious disappearances and a gothic style. But it doesn’t deliver. There is no sense of being in England in 1901 as there is no real description of the setting or historical detail. Yes, there were mysterious disappearances, but the plot is too complicated and jumps from one thing to another so that even episodes that are meant to be dramatic are barely memorable and left on questions like “What had H ...more
Sophie Farr
Jan 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Spooky, lyrical and full of atmosphere.

I've always enjoyed books that play with ambiguity – the author assumes her reader is sharp enough to use their imagination to fill in any spaces, and it always leaves me thinking about the book for longer after I've finished it.

Now I need to add Marian's short story collection to my reading list!
Doris Raines
Jan 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
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Marian Womack is a bilingual writer born in Andalusia and educated at the universities of Glasgow and Oxford. She is currently completing a part-time Masters Degree in Creative Writing at Cambridge University, and recently graduated from the Clarion Fantasy and Science-Fiction Writer’s Workshop at USCD. She is co-editor of the academic book Beyond the Back Room: New Perspectives on Carmen Martín G ...more

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