Book Review: The Key in the Lock – Beth Underdown

Book Review: The Key in the Lock – Beth Underdown

Release Date: January 13th 2022
Publisher: Viking
Pages: 304
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4.25/5 stars


I still dream, every night, of Polneath on fire. Smoke unfurling out of an upper window and a hectic orange light cascading across the terrace.

By day, Ivy Boscawen mourns the loss of her son Tim in the Great War. But by night she mourns another boy – one whose death decades ago haunts her still.

For Ivy is sure that there is more to what happened all those years ago: the fire at the Great House, and the terrible events that came after. A truth she must uncover, if she is ever to be free.

Brimming with secrets, this lyrical haunting historical thriller is perfect for fans of Elizabeth Macneal, Sarah Waters and Diane Setterfield.


The Key in the Lock is the newest release from Beth Underdown, author of The Witchfinder’s Sister. I absolutely loved The Witchfinder’s Sister so I was really intrigued to pick this one up. In the book, we follow Ivy Boscawen who is struggling with the grief of losing her son Tim in the war. Mourning the loss of his young life, she reflects on the death of another boy decades earlier – a mystery that still haunts her. Though there was a fire and a tragic death, Ivy knows that isn’t the whole truth. Ivy soon discovers if she is ever going to let that night go, she must find out what really happened.

The Key in the Lock is a slow burn mystery. It is atmospheric and Underdown feeds the reader little bits of information as the story progresses. It’s incredibly well-paced and throughout the tale, I was never quite sure who to trust. Each character has their own motivations and Underdown does a terrific job of bringing the characters to life. Ivy is a brilliant protagonist, determined to uncover the truth whilst still learning to cope with the loss of her son. She felt like such a realistic person – she’s flawed and makes mistakes but ultimately wants to do the right thing. The Key in the Lock is a beautifully told story and one that kept me reading for hours on end.

I really enjoyed the way the story was told in two different timelines and the Cornwall setting really comes to life in Underdown’s prose. The Key in the Lock feels very well researched and I did not want this story to end. The Key in the Lock is a stunning historical fiction read and I am so excited to see what Beth Underdown does next.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.