Review of The Key of Astrea

The Key of Astrea by Nicholas Marson (Maple and Pine, 2019) is a young adult adventure novel with elements of fantasy and science fiction blended together. With some characters that you want to root for, and others that you will love to hate, Marson has a firm grasp on writing compelling characters thrown into circumstances outside of their own control.

Jenny Tripper is a teenage girl with more than her fair share of things in her life she’d like to change. She doesn’t anticipate these things changing any time soon, so when a surprise birthday present turns out to be far more than it appears, she’s dragged into a whole other world filled with aliens, spaceships, and gates that connect the worlds. Along the way, there are ghosts and magical items, and new friends all learning to master their innate abilities so they can save an enslaved alien species.

While much of the book is told from Jenny’s perspective, some chapters are instead from the perspective of Jack Spriggan, an adult mechanic and pilot who is unwittingly swept into the larger plot of the novel. By alternating between the perspectives, Marson is able to reveal details that would otherwise be lost in the background if the novel was told from only Jenny’s perspective.

Fans of sci-fi books and shows that sometimes include a bit of a mystical or magical element will likely enjoy The Key of Astrea. The action is fast paced, and readers may even find themselves holding their breath as they fret over the outcome of Jenny’s adventures!

Content notes: The novel’s plot involves a surprising on-page death of a pet, as well as human deaths from cancer and violence. Additionally, the main character is Romani, and occasionally refers to herself and others using the widely known slur that has been and still is in popular usage related to this people. Some of the depictions of mental illness may also be problematic for some readers. Other elements may be troubling to other readers, but these aspects in particular caught my attention.

The author provided us with a free copy of this book in exchange for review consideration.

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