The Skeleton Key by Erin Kelly #bookreview

On my blog today, I’m sharing my thoughts on the new novel by Erin Kelly, The Skeleton Key.



Summer, 2021.
 Nell has come home at her family’s insistence to celebrate an anniversary. Fifty years ago, her father wrote The Golden Bones. Part picture book, part treasure hunt, Sir Frank Churcher created a fairy story about Elinore, a murdered woman whose skeleton was scattered all over England. Clues and puzzles in the pages of The Golden Bones led readers to seven sites where jewels were buried – gold and precious stones, each a different part of a skeleton. One by one, the tiny golden bones were dug up until only Elinore’s pelvis remained hidden.

The book was a sensation. A community of treasure hunters called the Bonehunters formed, in frenzied competition, obsessed to a dangerous degree. People sold their homes to travel to England and search for Elinore. Marriages broke down as the quest consumed people. A man died. The book made Frank a rich man. Stalked by fans who could not tell fantasy from reality, his daughter, Nell, became a recluse.

But now the Churchers must be reunited. The book is being reissued along with a new treasure hunt and a documentary crew are charting everything that follows. Nell is appalled, and terrified. During the filming, Frank finally reveals the whereabouts of the missing golden bone. And then all hell breaks loose.


I’ve always enjoyed Erin Kelly’s work, so I was looking forward to reading her new novel The Skeleton Key, which has a very intriguing premise. Readers of gothic suspense will really enjoy her latest book. Erin Kelly begins the novel with a shocking opening with a horrific attack on a young woman, and the reasons behind her attack are disturbing, giving that opening prologue a chilling note that carries right the way through the rest of the story. This is what propels you into the book, as I wanted to understand more about what happened to the woman and why.

The central premise in Erin Kelly’s latest novel, centres on a book called The Golden Bones, which, although has brought success to the author and wealth to them, has also created turmoil and upset for decades since its release. It is focused on a treasure hunt for the bones of a woman named Elinor, scattered in the countryside, and one bone, fifty years later, still hasn’t been found. There are also a group of people who call themselves by the disturbing name ‘the bone hunters’ who are obsessed with the treasure hunt. Now that the fiftieth anniversary is approaching since the book was first published, the media interest is picking up again.

I was captivated by all the characters in this book. Erin Kelly delves into their stories and brings them to life so well on the page, making this book a masterclass in characterisation. I loved how Erin Kelly gradually pulled us further into the mysteries of the novel, making me even more curious about the character’s and what was going to happen to them, especially with what was going on with the bone hunters. You can see the obsession that the bone hunters have with this case. Erin Kelly draws on this well to create tension, especially with the main character, Nell, whose point of view the novel is mainly told from. You can see their obsession with the treasure hunt is becoming dangerous and I had no idea what they might do next to achieve their goal.

You can really feel the emotions Nell is going through especially as she becomes reacquainted with her family again, after she has stayed away from them for so long, following the trauma she went through. This really made me connect to her character.

The Skeleton Key draws you into the disturbing mystery Erin Kelly has created. It is definitely one of the most original thrillers I’ve read this year.

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Publication date: 1st September 2022

Print length: 545 pages

The Skeleton Key is available to buy:

Amazon UK Kobo Waterstones

One thought on “The Skeleton Key by Erin Kelly #bookreview

Comments are closed.