Review Blog

Aug 06 2019

The seven keys by Allison Rushby

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Walker, 2019. ISBN: 9781760650797.
(Age: 10+) Highly recommended. Themes: Cemeteries, Magnificent Seven, London, Victorian age, Death, Supernatural, Foundling Hospital. Standing at the gates of Kensal Green Cemetery, Flossie knows that something is wrong. The Turnkey, Hugo Howsham, worked with her to prevent a Nazi takeover of Great Britain seven years before, the two combining the power of their keys to destroy the skull that allowed the dead to communicate with the living. Hugo had made her promise to keep this secret and Flossie had not told any of the other Turnkeys about the power contained within their keys when they are united. But when he steals Flossie's second key she knows that he is amassing the keys to gain power over the Magnificent Seven, the seven cemeteries within Greater London. But to what end?
She tries to elicit the help of the Turnkeys of the other cemeteries, but they are so disappointed with her that they repel her, forcing her to work on the problem herself. Surprisingly Hugo allows her to summon Daisy, her former maid and the two investigate, all the while keeping watch on Hugo.
A glittering sequel to The Turnkey (2017), the ghostly Flossie is an admirable character, keeping watch over the interred in her cemetery, Highgate. It is her job to keep everyone at rest, but when the interred in several cemeteries seem disturbed, she must act.
She is dismayed when she sees Hugo march the interred to Kensal Green and even more upset when she realises that his possession of three keys makes him almost visible to the living.
She and Daisy go to his former house and there search his archives to find the reason for his removing the interred from their place of rest. As an architect he proposed the building of an enormous pyramid to house all the dead, rather than waste space in the city of London on the seven cemeteries. Flossie realises that he is putting this plan into operation using the dead as his slaves.
Wonderfully evocative of nineteenth century London and its seven cemeteries, the storyline is captivating, the main character, Flossie an engaging young girl, working hard to ensure her interred remain happily at rest.
Daisy, a new character in this book is from the Foundling Hospital, a London charity begun in the late eighteenth century, which takes in children. Now open to visitors, it is a salutary reminder of the numbers of vulnerable children with nowhere to go in the times described so well in this novel. Add it to your list of places to visit when next in London.
This fine historical novel, is an engaging and spirited sequel which will leave readers wanting more.
Fran Knight

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