The Key and the Flame, by Claire M. Caterer (book review) – through the tree-door, into magic and danger

book cover of The Key and the Flame by Claire M. Caterer published by McElderry BooksBackpack with bandana and inhaler? Check.
Iron key from Mr. Gallaway? Yes.
Enough courage to fight for their lives? Hope so!

Oh, she wanted an adventure this summer visiting England, but Holly never intended to strand her asthmatic little brother and their new friend in a medieval world where magic is punishable by death!

You can get this first volume of a planned five-part series now at your local library or independent bookstore; book two, The Wand and the Sea, is due out in summer 2014.

Would you be brave enough to open a door to an unknown place?

Book info: The Key and the Flame / Claire M. Caterer. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2013. [author site]  [publisher site]   Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Holly longs to have an adventure during her family’s trip to England. The gift of an iron key opens the way into a dangerous world where magic is forbidden, and she discovers her hidden powers!

If her brother Ben hadn’t been playing his video games, then the eleven-year-old wouldn’t have walked into the forest all by herself, hearing that humming, finding a tree with a keyhole in it, a keyhole that just fits the key given to her by the cottage caretaker… and she wouldn’t have seen ghosts in the ruined castle, ghosts of Ben and neighbor Everett being threatened by swordsmen!

A key to a magic place? Ben and Everett go along with Holly to the keyhole-oak, and the trio falls into the Middle Ages! (good thing Ben has his inhaler) Except none of the history books they’d read ever mentioned talking cats or centaurs…

This particular past has many types of magical creatures, all sentenced to death by the non-magical King and his wicked adviser. By using the key to travel here, Holly has proved that she is a most-magical Adept, perhaps the one prophesied to restore magic to balance the world!

Why don’t the griffins and shapeshifters believe that she’s just a girl?
How can she prove to the King that she’s not a magical threat?
Can she harness her magic in time to rescue Ben and Everett from certain death?

“Only the strong of heart take the circular path, for to return from whence you came brings the ending back to the beginning.” First in a five-volume series, The Key and the Flame  takes readers from a boring US suburb to a magical English forest where friendship and courage are tested to the limits.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on

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