Actual rating: 3.5/5
Actual rating: 3.5/5 The Latchkey continues the story began in Archivist Wasp. Isabel, once known as Wasp, has become the leader of the upstarts. Adjustment to a new way of life isn't easy, especially that Sweetwater inhabitants have mixed feeling about whole archivists and ghosts business. When ruthless raiders from the Waste and a deadly force from the Before-time that awaits in long-hidden tunnels appear, things get extremely dangerous for all. To save ex-upstarts and Sweetwater, Isabel will have to unlock the secrets of the twisted experimental program from centuries gone. Isabel isn't alone. She's accompanied by her friendly ghosts that also happen to be killing machines easily excited by human blood. The world presented in Latchkey is brutal. The post-apocalyptic scenery and decaying society are portrayed in a suggestive, sometimes uncomfortable way. It seems that only history buried deep in the tunnels can help to discover a solution that will save others. It’s a bigger and longer book than Archivist Wasp. There are more characters, more action scenes, more depth and more intriguing questions finally answered. The story focuses on Ghost, Foster, and Isabel, but upstarts, especially a fierce young lady called Sairy get nice exposition as well. Before you get attached to someone bare in mind that this time Nicole Kornher-Stacey holds no punches. Things get painful, and we experience quite a lot of trauma (both in the past and in the present). Characters are portrayed in a suggestive, layered way. Despite this, I have a problem with them. I just can't relate to Isabel, and lack of emotional engagement in the story decreased my reading pleasure. It's subjective. I can see other readers rooting actively for her. Pacing is uneven. At times the story moves too fast, at times too slow (especially in the beginning). There were lots of tedious bits, and portions of text that didn't move the plot forward. The writing is dense and good. On the other hand, I must confess I find some of the similes and stylistic choices awkward (although they'll be poetic to others). Here are two examples: She barely registered straightening, sheathing her sword, breaking into a dead run, plowing into that knot of raiders like a meteor. She was moving out of time with the living world, half here half gone, and they didn’t even see her coming until she was already among them and they were falling around her like autumn leaves. I'm not sure if it's intended as a sharp contrast between abruptness of the attack and mayhem and serene, slow-motion falling autumn leaves? I know that it doesn't work for me. Chooser knew what she did to the next two guards, but it was too fast for Isabel to figure out. Only that one of them went down with the whole side of his skull caved in like a stomped windfall plum, and the other one was sliding on her own red trail down the rear wall of the house across the road. Overall, I enjoyed this story, although I'm not in love with it. Some parts were brilliant and enthralling while other not so much. As the book felt uneven for me, I'll set the score to 3.5 shining stars.