The first book I read by Gigi Pandian was in her series that featured an alchemist who was several hundred years old and her gargoyle who could move between being stone and animated, depending on the circumstances. Certainly a step into the world of magical transmutation. The book was so engaging I didn’t stop to think if I considered it possible, I just sat back and enjoyed the book.
Since then, I’ve been watching for another Gigi Pandian book and was finally rewarded when I saw Under Lock and Skeleton Key. This one has absolutely nothing to do with alchemy and everything to do with magic, secret rooms, and people who seem to be connected to generations of mystical people. Whether the main character has magical qualities or is simply an adept illusionist, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is she is clever, engaging, and connected to a family of some of the most wonderful people you will meet between the covers of a book.
Tempest Raj is an illusionist/magician whose act has been sabotaged by an employee resulting in the closing of her show and lawsuits that have left her destitute. Her contract in Vegas is canceled and she is forced o move back home to live with her father who owns a unique construction company. Her mother died a few years ago, but when she was alive she would design magical places in houses that the company was hired to build, based on family stories. They were famous for creating hidden rooms, moving staircases, magical entrances requiring special keys or approaches, and all things that sound like fun. Since her death, the company has continued their construction, but she had a quality that made each job more personal which they sadly miss.
Tempest’s home is filled with these hidden places, as is the house the company is currently building. In addition, her grandparents live on the property in a treehouse, and the entire area sounds like a place that would appeal to the child in all of us. Certainly for me it was enough to make me want at least a tour, if not a chance to live there.
Of course, the magic is only part of the book. There is also a murder which appears to be magical and yet Tempest is convinced it is something that has just been manufactured to look that way. She needs to solve this mystery and also decide what she is going to do with her life going forward. The reader is given the opportunity to experience, at least in their mind, some of the magical places Tempest’s parents created while they read about her attempt to solve the mystery of the murder that literally rolled in front of them. If you want to read my review, here is a link to it: https://www.mysteryandsuspense.com/under-lock-skeleton-key/
I hope you can suspend reality and immerse yourself in this magical world long enough to enjoy the people and items that make it a fascinating place. As for me, I’m giving serious though to finding someone who will build me a hidden room, even if I just use it as a pantry. For now, I’ll just say Happy Reading.