The Key Finder

The Key Finder


Fiction - Fantasy - General
120 Pages
Reviewed on 10/21/2016
Buy on Amazon

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Book Review

Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite

Tony is just an ordinary boy. He goes to school, he has friends, and he has a family. However, his family seems somewhat incomplete as he only has a mother, no father, and his mother’s parents and siblings. It’s as if his father never existed. His questions go unanswered or misdirected until one day, when he was about fifteen, a key literally lands at his feet. It’s not a key as we would know it, but it does open doors in a sense and, at a specific time later that day, the door opens to another world, sweeping Tony and his friend, Gabriel, into a parallel universe. The search for Tony’s father heightens because in this new world it is quickly revealed that Tony’s father is king. But there’s a war and evil spirits, quite literally, are taking over.

Mary Beth Bowman’s young adult fantasy novel, The Key Finder, takes the reader on an exciting adventure, not to rescue a princess as one would expect, but rather to ensure that the prince gains his rightful place on the throne. Like the battles between good and evil in C.S. Lewis’s stories about Narnia, the author reveals another alternate world, where good must once again conquer evil. The plot is thick with adventure and fascinating characters, some of whom trick even the reader into trusting their evil ways. Tony’s key not only pulls himself and his friend, Gabriel, into another world, it also pulls readers in to join in the crusade to save a world in crisis. A real page-turning adventure.

Jack Magnus

The Key Finder is a young adult epic fantasy written by Mary Beth Bowman. Tony Bagwell never got to know his father. He always did wonder about him, but his mother told him that his dad was dead. She claimed he had died in an accident, but his grandfather had hinted once, when Tony was almost ten years old, that there was more to the story. Tony had tried his best to get his grandfather to tell him more, but the older man was adamant about a promise and assured Tony that he'd know more when it was the right time. When Tony was 15 that moment arrived. He had been counting the stars in the sky from the vantage point of his bedroom window, when his attention was caught by the strange behavior of one of those stars. It seemed to be hurtling out of the sky and towards his window. Tony stepped back just in time before it crashed through the glass and landed on the floor. The thing was shaped like a crystal, and it had broken into halves. Tony reached down to pick up what had been inside.

Mary Beth Bowman's young adult coming of age fantasy novel, The Key Finder, is an original and exciting tale about a parallel world and the quest that Tony Bagwell must undertake there. Tony and Gabriel, his best friend who accompanies him on his journey, are complex and believable characters, who each have skills essential to the quest. The Key Finder's plot is an intriguing one as the world where it's set is inhabited by all manner of non-humanoid creatures. Bowman's story-telling is inspired, and her epic fantasy tale will please fantasy lovers of all ages. The Key Finder is highly recommended.

Michelle Randall

For the most part, Tony is your average, everyday kid, with nothing special about him. His mother sews for a living and no one talks about his father, so Tony gave up on asking. He doesn't really have any friends except maybe Gabriel, and it turns out that Gabriel is exactly who Tony needs in his life. One night a crystal box falls into his room, with directions to use the mirror at a specific time. Tony's mother seems perfectly fine with what is going on, which has Tony even more confused, so he asks his friend Gabriel about it, and to go with him. At exactly 4 pm, the boys are transported to another world where they must choose to embark on a quest to save the king and the kingdom from an invading evil. The Key Finder by Mary Beth Bowman is a fantasy book, but it is also a coming of age story, as Tony finds strengths in himself along the way that he never knew he had. Author Mary Beth Bowman evokes images reminiscent of Dr Seuss creatures in this story.

The Key Finder is a journey, a quest to conquer an invading evil, but it is one wrapped in pretty paper. Until you strip off the outer shell and look deep within, you can't see the evil, and so many people of the kingdom are being swayed by the pretty exterior. This is such a timely and thoughtful book because we are all swayed by pretty wrappings at times, and forget that what is inside is not always the same. Author Mary Beth Bowman writes a well written, clean book with no sex, language or graphic violence, so I have no problem recommending it to young children. I think it is a book that parents should read as well, and then use it to talk to their children about what they read and the world around them.

Susan Sewell

The Key Finder by Mary Beth Bowman is a YA science fiction fantasy that takes place in another world. Tony Bagwell has never known his father. When he asked his mother about him, she told him that his father had been killed in a train wreck. Early one morning, when Tony is fourteen, unable to sleep, he is looking at the stars. As he gazes, one of the stars begins moving closer until it comes through his window and lands in his room. It is a crystal box holding a message and a mirror. Tony tells his best friend Gabriel about the box and the request within it. He asks Gabriel to be with him when he opens the box. Unexpectedly, the box explodes and they are surprised to find themselves in a forest, not of their own world. They are met by Lilah, Tony's cousin, and Dowd, his uncle. Tony's relatives explain to the boys that it is up to them to help save Tony's father.

Rowan, another human that lives in this world, helps Lilah train Tony and Gabriel to use their mind powers and prepare them for their trip. Now, Tony and Gabriel are on a quest in another world. They are trying to rescue the king and his kingdom. On their journey, they meet geists and spirits. The spirits are parasites that feed on the souls of their victims. The geists use mind control to try to stop them from completing their mission. There are traitors in their midst, and when Tony and Lilah are separated from the group it seems unlikely that their mission will succeed. Will Tony fulfill his destiny?

The Key Finder by Mary Beth Bowman is an exciting YA fantasy novel that takes the reader to another dimension. Tony and Gabriel's awesome abilities help them with the complicated task of saving the king. Although Tony has never ventured into unknown worlds, he somehow manages to keep his wits. With the help of his best friend, Gabriel, they may have a chance to complete the challenge issued. The author has created a colorful and fascinating story-world with unique beings and creatures. It is a dimension that exists parallel to ours. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves sci-fi stories and fantasy novels, and finds other worlds fascinating.

Lisa McCombs

“Tony Bagwell was not a very unusual boy. He had no special talents or features and was, by most acquaintances, very easily forgotten. This did not bother Tony, however. He was quite content with life for the most part.” And then everything changed. Tony is visited by a strange, very bright light through his bedroom window. As it gets closer, Tony realizes that the light is coming. Right. At. Him. He tells his mother, who doesn’t appear very surprised. She cautions him to not be late to accept this invitation. Of course Tony is further confused and feels the need to share this with his only friend, Gabriel. Gabriel is convinced to join Tony on whatever adventure he faces. The boys travel to another dimension where they meet Lilah and Dowd, and Tony learns of his destiny.

The Key Finder by Mary Beth Bowman is an engaging fantasy story for young teens and middle school readers that masterfully weaves a fabric of words that keeps the reader turning the pages. Bowman’s use of sarcastic dialogue perfectly reflects the intended age group, while utilizing a fun vocabulary readers will find both understandable and challenging. While Tony realizes the forces of a world beyond his imaginable existence, the reader is entertained by the possibility of life in an alternative dimension. I really enjoyed the story line of The Key Finder and am excited by Bowman’s exploration of a more “male” reading experience so often overlooked in contemporary young adult fiction.