Under Lock and Skeleton Key by: Gigi Pandian

When I saw the cover of this book, I fell in love. When I read the summary, I wanted it and when I was granted my request from NetGalley, I put down everything else to read it.

Under Lock and Skeleton Key follows Tempest Raj, a stage magician who until very recently worked as a headliner in Las Vegas.

She’s mixed. So many people in this book are mixed. Indian and Scottish for her. There’s a Black man who is a single father who is absolutely sweet and his son is adorable. There’s also the Hindi Houdini, her good friend Sanjay.

Honestly some of the best written kids because they reminded me of my younger sibling and their friends when they were around that age.

Tempest’s family has suffered under a curse that her grandfather Ash absolutely believes. The eldest child dies by magic. And it seems true with the families history.

Tempest comes from a long line of magicians (and she owns a rabbit named Abra) and it was only natural that she become one as well. Even though her mother lost her older sister Elspeth during a gruesome magic act.

The curse took a bit of a turn after that. Tempest’s mom died after that. And she says that it’s cheating because her mom was only the oldest since her sister died.

I agreed with her there. I actually highlighted that part in to put in my review because a) yeah that’s cheating and b)it’s so relatable.

Tempest is actually relatable. You don’t need to be a magician to feel for her. She’s lost her show in Las Vegas due to her stage double tampering with her show. Tampering with in it a way that almost got her killed.

That’s where we come in to Tempest’s life, living back in her childhood bedroom in her childhood home that is the number one place I want to live.

Why? Because you get into it by pulled a secret lever and it opens up to a secret staircase that takes you to her room. And the house in general? Well, for one it has a title. It’s called Fiddler’s Folly. It was built in chunks and each part as it was added and grew was built in with hidden reading rooms, bookshelves that open to new hidden rooms.

Tempest’s grandparents actually live in the treehouse portion and it’s yet another incredible construction.

Not surprising since her father owns a construction company called Secret Staircase Construction. They build those hidden rooms and many other amazing things for other people. Her mother worked with her father up until her disappearance.

Now this is supposed to be a review, not spoiler city so I have to reign in how much I want to spill on everything.

What we have in this book is an incredible, diverse cast and each person feels real. They’re all very fleshed out and none of them, to my relief, were annoying. their relationships and the history they share feels real.

Since it’s a mystery I wasn’t sure what to expect. A lot of the ones I’ve tried over the years have been very dark and gritty, more pulp than anything else. But this felt lighter and it is. Yes there’s a murder but that doesn’t change the fact that this book has characters in it that don’t just see doom and gloom everywhere.

There’s a lot of sleight of hand, a lot of tricks and things that were fun to picture while reading. And when the book his 78% I was actually gasping and speaking out loud. There were twists and turns then more twists. It was amazing. It was so well written that I had the distinct feeling that I was there with the characters while everything was going on.

There was one thing that bothered me a little. The central mystery of the story is how was X thing done. And I was very excited to have it explained to me. I’m not a magician, tell me your secrets! That…didn’t happen. Or if it did, I missed it. I was looking forward to it almost being like that old show. Where this magician in a mask would do a really famous trick and then reveal how it was done.

It was that. I was a little put out by it. I wanted to know! But when the book comes out, I’ll buy it and read it again so it’s not a big deal. This is also the first in a series and I eagerly look forward to the next installments!

Even though I didn’t have the magic trick explalined to me, there’s so much magic in this book that it earned a five (5) star rating from me. I recommend it if this is your first forray into mysteries or if you’re looking for one that isn’t super heavy.

Like I said in the beginning, I got this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. A thanks to them and the publisher.


Author. Reader. Reviewer. Interested in Sci-fi, Fantasy, and everything in between. Ya, and Adult. Looking for representaion where it matters! BIPOC, LGBTQ+, disabled, everything! We all deserve stories!

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