Take the Key and Lock Her Up by Ally Carter
Publisher: Orchard Books
Format: ARC e-book
After not loving the sequel to the Embassy Row series, See How They Run, I was a little nervous to how I’d take the final book! But, it was still one of my most anticipated books, because I feel like Ally Carter will always have my loyalty, no matter what. So, with rocky expectations, I dived into The the Key and Lock Her Up, but was pleasantly surprised to have a solid conclusion to a series that started with a bang and ended with a knotted bow. Be warned, I’m going to be talking about the ending, so if you haven’t read the series yet, or are just interested, there will be spoilers!
So, the book opens with Grace and Jamie and Alexei having fled back to America to escape the ‘evil’ councillors who want to kill them. Fair enough. It’s a punchy beginning, and does well to remind you of the peril that faces the trio if they return to
Genovia Adria. But, overall, I thought the pacing was slow. A lot of the book compromises of Grace having the same ‘I’m going to end this’ conversation with all the people around her. It was repetitive and a little eye-roll inducing. I much prefer a character that can appreciate that working as a team has its benefits, and that there doesn’t always have to be a solo sacrifice to get the best outcome!
But, of course, Grace had a big sense of self worth because she was the one they were after as the secret princess of Adria, with the power to bring down the corrupted government. At one point, she agrees to a betrothal with Princess Anne’s son, and I was so pumped for some The Selection based shenanigans, but on the other hand, Grace and Alexei are an OTP, so I was pleased when the prince relationship didn’t amount to much.
There was a lot of scheming, but also a fair amount of action, with everyone heading to a prison in Russia, and ferreting around in an old and abandoned US basement, so top marks for balance!
The book got infinitely better when the rest of the gang turned up from All Fall Down. I forgot that the might have been some romantic tension between Grace and Noah, but I always saw them as 100% friends, so when they were close, I was just like ‘Yes, friendship goals.’ Megan, Rosie and Lila were just as great as they were before. I almost wish the team was more prominent, but I do get the Grace is the most important, as you know, the princess and everything.
I was also pleased that Grace’s mental health had somewhat recovered from the second book, where she couldn’t seem to recover from knowing she was the one to ‘kill’ her mother. While that was still mentioned a number of times, it wasn’t as consuming as being the heir to a throne, and her priorities changed.
No longer in the centre of a romantic tug of war, she could get on with saving the country. Hallelujah. I was not a fan when a secondary love interest type of guy was bought into the second book, for seemingly unnecessary reasons, until Alexei ‘kills him’ and then it’s just a device to make him a fugitive too. I got all the romantic scenes between the couple that I so desperately wanted.
Ally Carter knows what she’s doing. If the middle of the series feels like a dud, just wait for the finale. While I’d now say that Embassy Row is my least favourite of all her series, overall, it’s a fun time that captures all the same vibes her previous series have, while being different enough to keep readers satisfied. I liked how definitive the ending to Take the Key and Lock Her Up was, and now that I can rest assured that Grace and her family are okay, I’m ready to return to the Gallagher academy, where I truly belong!
Which is your favourite Ally Carter series? Are you a fan of books including princesses? Did you predict any of the ending?