The Key by Simon Toyne

Conspiracy thrillers don’t come any bigger or better than THE KEY — from the author of the bestselling thriller debut of 2011, SANCTUS: ‘Plenty of action, plenty of intrigue and wonderfully imaginative. The sort of novel to devour in one sitting’ Kate Mosse. Hounded. Haunted. Hunted. She is the most important person in the world. She is The Key. In the ancient Turkish city of Ruin, American journalist Liv Adamsen lies in an isolation ward staring at walls as blank as her memory. She knows she entered the monumental Citadel at the heart of Ruin but can remember only darkness. Something strange is stirring within her, whispering that she is ‘the key’. But the key to what? For the Ghost, a mercenary operating in the Syrian Desert, Liv could unlock one of mankind’s most potent secrets. For the brotherhood in the Citadel — now cursed by a terrible plague — her return is the only way to ensure their survival. And for a powerful faction in Rome, she threatens the very future of the Catholic Church. Hunted across continents and caught up in events that defy explanation, Liv turns to the only person she trusts — a charity worker named Gabriel Mann. Together their paths lead to a shocking discovery — one that will tear them apart and change the world forever!

The Key follows directly on from where Sanctus left off. It’s going to be hard to write about the plot to The Key without giving away the ending to the first book. Needless to say that central character Liv is now host to a spiritual being and must fight against the odds to save the world from imminent and apocalyptic disaster. This follow up has taken the over the top aspects and moulded it into a coherent and tight narrative that borders both thriller and supernatural aspects.

Toyne spent much of Sanctus building his skills, though many moments of the first book were a little cliché, you could see the passion behind the words. With The Key, Toyne has stepped up a gear and has written a far superior book. His writing flows with more fluidity and rather than using staccato bursts with many short sentences, his prose reaches further and builds tension better.

While I enjoyed Sanctus, there was always a part of me hoping that the book would divert from the “Dan Brown” elements of religious conspiracy and show something new. It was within the last pages that Sanctus started to show its hand, albeit in a rather over the top fashion.

In The Key everything is better. Liv is stronger but still holds a fragility that the reader will find endearing and Gabriel is more bad ass action hero which lends the book a cinematic feel. Also, while the religious conspiracy angles still play out, the book takes on a more spiritual and supernatural angle which feels more natural for the overarching plot. I won’t use the superlatives that I used last time, but I will knock out a nice clichéd term and say that The Key is gripping.

I have to wonder where Toyne will take us next, not just in plot but in locale. The Key saw the story move from Turkey to the Syrian Desert and the change of location heightened the book by adding more backdrops to the narrative, which can only help the author to explore new options. I hope that Toyne sticks with the ideas explored in this part when writing the third instalment in the series. I believe that he has more to show and as he has grown from Sanctus to The Key, one can only assume that he will grow again and release an even better book.

Published by Harper Collins. This book was kindly sent from the publisher.

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