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The Skeleton Key
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The Skeleton Key

Series: Pandora English (3)

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275656,996 (3.6)None
By day Pandora English is a lowly fashion assistant. By night, she is a supernatural scion. The Crow Moon is rising and Pandora has a date with Civil War soldier Lieutenant Luke, who will be flesh-and-blood for one night only. When Lieutenant Luke disappears, Pandora must unlock the mysteries of Number One Addams Avenue with her skeleton key and discover the secrets that lie in the forgotten laboratory of Dr Edmund Barrett. For Pandora has been warned: a powerful force is in the house. As Friday the Thirteenth looms, Pandora English and the citizens of Spektor are in grave danger. For the dead will rise and terror shall reign.… (more)
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Title:The Skeleton Key
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The skeleton key by Tara Moss

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Showing 5 of 5
When I received The Skeleton Key in the mail, I wasn't sure it would be my kind of book. I'm a bit (okay, a lot) over paranormal romance at the moment, so I was worried that I might find myself wading through just the kind of novel I'm avoiding right now. As it turned out, I really needn't have worried. There's a hint of romance here, but the emphasis is strongly on the paranormal, and the book as a whole is much more Buffy than Twilight. I actually recommend it strongly to Buffy fans, because Pandora is from a similar kind of normal-but-kickass-chosen-one mould. (Try to say that one three times quickly.)

Although I haven't read the first two books in the Pandora English series, I didn't struggle at all with picking up the premise and the universe. Tara Moss creates an interesting world full of all the usual paranormal types, and manages to avoid the same-old-same-old trap. There are vampires – sorry: Sanguines - here, but there is a refreshing lack of uniformity when it comes to their characterisation. Deus (whom I loved) is a very different character to the undead supermodels who plague Pandora's existence.

One of the things I liked most about The Skeleton Key was the humour that marked the narrative and the character voice. There's a healthy sense of irony here, and that makes the occasional genuinely creepy moment stand out even more. The key villain of the novel is suitably discomforting and, while Pandora largely operates on instinct and employs extreme powers she doesn't fully understand, I didn't find this annoying. Her resignation to her responsibility as the Seventh and her commitment to doing the very things she doesn't yet know how to do somehow made up for the relative ease of her achievements.

Pandora is nineteen, and The Skeleton Key very cleverly walks the (fading) line between young adult and adult fiction. There are no pubescent dramas to distance the book from adults, and there is nothing within its pages that could be considered too 'old' by younger readers (or their parents). The idea of crossover appeal is often thrown about these days, but I think it's an apt descriptor for this series.

All-up, I found The Skeleton Key a light and enjoyable read and I shall definitely look up the first two books in the series – even if my arachnophobia does make me a little nervous about The Spider Goddess...
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  Tara_Calaby | Jun 22, 2020 |
The Skeleton Key by Tara Moss is the third Pandora English novel. I have previously read and reviewed (and enjoyed!) the first two books, The Blood Countess and The Spider Goddess. This review has only very minor spoilers for the earlier books.

In the third Pandora English mystery, Pandora is still negotiating her double life as a lowly assistant at a New York fashion magazine with the reality that she has great supernatural powers and responsibilities.

With the full moon set to rise once again, Pandora has a very special date looming. Her beautiful spirit guide, Civil War soldier Lieutenant Luke, will be a flesh-and-blood man, if only for the night, and she hasn't been able to stop thinking about it. But a chance encounter with playboy Jay Rockwell sees that very human attraction start all over again – even though Jay doesn't remember their previous relationship, or the fact that Pandora saved him from a gang of ill-tempered undead supermodels.

Meanwhile, Pandora – with her special skeleton key – is slowly unlocking the mysteries of the haunted mansion where she lives with her great aunt Celia. What sinister experiments did the architect Dr Edmund Barrett conduct there before he died? Where is his laboratory? And what are the strange noises emanating from the basement?

On the centenary of the mysterious fire that supposedly killed Dr Barrett, he returns to the mansion. He has a message for Pandora. But he has brought with him a dark force that threatens to tear apart the delicate balance between the worlds of the dead and living...


It's been more than a year since I read the first two books, so I may be misremembering, but I think The Skeleton Key is a little darker than its predecessors. The gist of it is much the same — Pandora dealing with New York, her fashion job, and weird supernatural things — but I thought the evil supernatural threat was a bit darker and more serious this time around. Saving the world on a larger scale, but still not too heavy a read.

Although the blurb implies a love triangle, I wouldn't say it's the kind of contrived and increasingly irritating love triangle we've come to expect from YA. (Also, this isn't YA. I'd call it "new adult" although I think the first ones were published before that was much of a thing and also my opinion of "new adult" isn't terribly high.) The crux of Pandora's love life, really, is that one guy is a ghost, and the other has no memory of their first date. Really it's more logistical, in both cases, rather than a case of "oh golly, which should I choose?" So I liked that.

Being the third in the series (although not the final, as far as I can tell/hope) is, I think, the reason the climax is rather more dramatic than the earlier books. Pandora's abilities and the trouble she gets into and has to get out of (trouble which, I should emphasise, is never her fault) has been building book by books. I think it was in book two that we learnt that Pandora is a Chosen One and it's brought up a lot in The Skeleton Key and is part of the reason (sort of) for things escalating. But I get the feeling they can escalate more, so I look forward to the next book, whenever that's written (I couldn't easily find any info on Moss's website).

I highly recommend this series to fans of not-too-heavy urban fantasy. Although I've said The Skeleton Key is darker than its predecessors, it's still on the lighter side of the urban fantasy genre, in my opinion. It builds on the earlier books more than The Spider Goddess did, so I don't recommend reading it before the others. But all in all, an enjoyable read, particularly in a week when I needed something relaxing to take my mind off business.

4.5 / 5 stars

You can read more of my reviews on my blog. ( )
  Tsana | Dec 15, 2013 |
The third in the Pandora English series, it didn’t quite grab me as much as the first two, but I can’t put my finger on why. However, it was still VERY enjoyable to read. Picking up from when ‘The Spider Goddess’ finishes off Pandora is still trying to understand what exactly her role as ‘The Seventh’ is going to be in the upcoming battle between the dead and living. Everyone in the hidden paranormal world of New York seems to expect her to save the world with her wonderful gifts – but they are all less forthcoming in telling her HOW to do it and what the gifts actually are! Still not knowing what to do hasn’t stopped Pandora from being dragged into an adventure and this book is no different. As with the previous books Pandora learns about more of her powers by accident as she fights to close a door to the realms of the dead without becoming one of them.

I love how Pandora lives in two worlds - the ‘normal’ and the ‘paranormal’ – to her it is just as normal to see ghosts as it is to make coffee for her boss, who she suspects has been turned into a vampire. The characters, even the wacky undead ones, are very believable; as is the concept of a whole suburb called Spektor that no-one in New York has heard of. There are still some mysteries to be solved such as how to save the world, why does her elderly great-aunt look so young and beautiful, and which is best a human boyfriend or a ghost one?
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  sally906 | Apr 3, 2013 |
This is the third in the Pandora English and picks up not long after the previous book. Pandora is plunged deeper into the mysteries that make up her life. But there is so much that is not explained and at this rate it will be half dozen books before many of them will be answered. This is one of the frustrations with this book.

However, as much as this is an enjoyable read, it's a bit light on and lacks real depth. It's not a complex story and is easy to read and straight forward. ( )
  Balthazar-Lawson | Mar 29, 2013 |
The third Pandora English novel is just as quirky and fun as the previous books, filled with humour, action and ZOMBIES! The Skeleton Key follows Pandora as she uses the special key to unlock the secrets of her great aunt’s house and the creepy suburb of Spektor. And my, what she finds is definitely creepy!

One of my favourite things about the series is Pandora, because she’s so familiar and relatable, without the ‘endearing’ traits of having low self-esteem or bad coordination. She has to make a conscious effort to be brave, to face her fears, she’s not afraid of new social settings but is understandably nervous, and she worries about things before going to bed each night. But Pandora isn’t whiny, doesn’t expect special treatment and is very much in control of her life. All admirable qualities in a main character! I also love that The Skeleton Key allowed us a glimpse into Pandora’s great-aunt Celia, and we get to see her witchy powers in action.

An increasing source of discomfort for me, as the series goes on, is Pandora’s attitude regarding the two men in her life: the ghostly Lieutenant Luke and the handsome Jay Rockwell, who is blessedly normal. I understand the conflict they cause for Pandora, who craves both the normalcy that Jay provides and the supernatural help that Luke gives her. But I don’t like that she is constantly skipping between the two like a pendulum. She rationalizes going out on a date with one right after the other, and when she’s in their company she completely forgets about the other until she gets home, and then she has a long think about the situation she’s gotten herself into. I think a lot of confusion would be avoided if she stopped seeing both until she cleared her thoughts, but I guess that’s not entertaining to read about.

I really like the supernatural world that has slowly developed over these three books, but there are many more questions to be answered so I’m glad that it looks like there are a few more books to come. As usual, the necromancy/zombie lore used in this book is well researched and doesn’t feel like it has been contrived to fit the story, which is great, and I beginning to really enjoy the unique spin that Moss puts on her supernatural creatures. I also liked the place that the house has in this book – it has been almost like another character in the books, and now with some of its mysteries revealed, the feeling has been compounded.

The Skeleton Key is not to be missed by fans of the Pandora English series, and readers who enjoy paranormal romance with more emphasis on the ‘paranormal’ than ‘romance’ should give the series a try. I am looking forward to following Pandora’s further adventures as the series progresses.

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review.
You can read more of my reviews at Speculating on SpecFic. ( )
  alcarinqa | Jan 11, 2013 |
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By day Pandora English is a lowly fashion assistant. By night, she is a supernatural scion. The Crow Moon is rising and Pandora has a date with Civil War soldier Lieutenant Luke, who will be flesh-and-blood for one night only. When Lieutenant Luke disappears, Pandora must unlock the mysteries of Number One Addams Avenue with her skeleton key and discover the secrets that lie in the forgotten laboratory of Dr Edmund Barrett. For Pandora has been warned: a powerful force is in the house. As Friday the Thirteenth looms, Pandora English and the citizens of Spektor are in grave danger. For the dead will rise and terror shall reign.

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