The Golden Key by Marian Womack- Book Review

The Golden Key, by Marian Womack, is a fantasy that has all my favourite themes- a suitably gothic atmosphere, the supernatural, creepy villains and a rational, feminist detective has a mystery to solve.

The Golden Key is another book I picked because of the amazing cover. But I am glad that I did buy this book and finished the book in one sitting. The story is so much more than then you would expect from the blurb’s description. This book has seances, mysteries, great characters, a suitably eerie atmosphere, creepy villains, feminism and other interesting strands but would be spoiling the book if I mentioned anymore.

I normally don’t add the blurb in my reviews but here is it.

London, 1901. After the death of Queen Victoria, the city heaves with the uncanny and the eerie. Séances are held and the dead are called upon from darker realms.

 Samuel Moncrieff, recovering from a recent tragedy of his own, meets Helena Walton-Cisneros, one of London’s most reputed mediums. But Helena is not what she seems and she’s enlisted by the elusive Lady Matthews to solve a twenty-year-old mystery: the disappearance of her three stepdaughters who vanished without a trace on the Norfolk Fens.

 But the Fens are a liminal land, where folk tales and dark magic still linger. With locals that speak of devilmen and catatonic children found on the Broads. Here, Helena finds what she was sent for, as the Fenland always gives up its secrets in the end…….


Helena, an investigator, Eliza, the scientifically minded sister of the local Doctor and Sam, a man with a mysterious past are the main POV characters. These are interspersed with reports from The New Occultist Defence League and other little interesting POVs from other people.

Sam is in mourning for Viola and his uncle takes him to a seance where he views a horrifying manifestation and finds that after the seance strange things keep happening to him. In the meantime, a friend of his Uncle has hired Helena to look into the disappearance of her stepdaughters twenty years ago. The two strands eventually merge to a satisfying conclusion.

The story comes alive when Helena enters the picture. A perceptive woman hides her intelligence by pretending her ability to solve complex crimes is a byproduct of being psychic. A rational woman who despite pretending to be Psychic does not believe in the supernatural. Her struggle to be accepted as a professional rings true in Victorian England. The book is atmospheric with its description of Fens’ creepiness and the increasing unease everyone has around Sam.

The book packs a lot on 320 pages. I wish it was a bit longer as the end was a bit abrupt and a little open-ended. A little more explanation would have helped to make the ending less confusing.

Content warning

Death and disappearance of children, some description of domestic abuse.

Perfect for Fans of

Gothic fantasy. From the back of the book, Rawblood and The Essex Serpent


4 and a half stars .

I would recommend this to anyone who would like a quick and enjoyable read with great characters and atmosphere .

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