‘Without the Keys, something terrible will happen. Something that cannot be undone. And with them, I might bring an end to the riddle of the Prophecy and my strange part in it. If Alice and I are on conflicting sides of the Prophecy, the Keys would be dangerous in her hands. Which means I have to find them. And I have to do it before my sister.’
The story takes place in the late 19th century, where Lia Milthorpe, a 16-year-old heiress, is struggling to deal with her father’s sudden death and her twin sister’s growing distance. While Alice, her sister, and Lia have never been close, Alice has been behaving strangely recently, and Lia doesn’t understand why. But when Lia comes across a book hidden in her late father’s library which tells of an ancient Prophecy that has twin sisters fighting a battle on opposite sides, one sister aiming to end the world and one to save it, she thinks she may have finally figured it out. Through the book, Lia tries to get the answers to her questions while Alice always seems to be steps ahead of her.
The characters in this book are well-rounded and you really feel for Lia as she struggles to reconcile her fate, as dictated by the Prophecy, with her desire for a normal life with the young man she is in love with. I tried very hard not to whip through this book as I wanted to savour the mystery and the atmosphere that the author, Michelle Zink, has created. I have a soft spot for spooky stories in the gothic tradition, and this one fits in very nicely. While the secretive Alice remains a bit of a mystery, it only serves to enhance our affinity for Lia, who is open, honest and caring, and can’t understand how her twin is so different. For the first novel in a trilogy, this book offers great incentive to keep reading.