Key of Knowledge
Narrated by Susan Ericksen
I enjoyed Nora Roberts’ Key series when it came out in 2003 and was delighted to discover that Susan Ericksen, one of my go-to narrators, was the narrator. Unfortunately, the first hours of this second entry are a bit rocky for me in audio.
In this trilogy, three young women are summoned to a mysterious mansion and asked to complete a quest. Three half-goddesses/half humans were imprisoned thousands of years earlier. Each woman will have 30 days to locate a magical key to unlock the prison. If they succeed, they will receive a great deal of money. If they fail, they will lose one year of their life. Blythe gave the print edition a C+ here at AAR, noting that the, “Dana/Jordan relationship is a little too familiar for Roberts fans. Dana is like an amalgam of Eve Dallas, Maggie Concannon, and, well, several other mouthy Roberts’ characters.” I liked Key of Knowledge in print more than Blythe, but in audio, my assessment is close to Blythe’s.
Susan Ericksen does a marvelous job reflecting the characters’ emotions; normally that works, but this time proved problematic. Let me be clear, the problem isn’t with the narration; it’s with the novel’s conversion to audio. Throughout much of the first few hours many of the characters are angry, chief among them Dana, our heroine. As Blythe noted, Dana is mouthy. She’s also sarcastic. And she’s really angry. Dana’s mad about the deterioration in her job at the library, she’s angry that her former lover Jordan has returned to town, and she’s frustrated that she’s having problems finding the second key. Early on Dana’s alternately snarky, sarcastic, and angry, and Ms. Ericksen gives these emotions full weight. I didn’t notice this when I read the book years ago in print, but in audio it’s readily apparent and it wasn’t enjoyable.
After the first few hours, I once again was sucked into the story. I enjoyed Dana’s interactions with her friends Malory and Zoe (the heroines of the other two books) as well as Jordan’s interactions with the other heroes. There are many scenes featuring multiple characters, and I never questioned who was talking. And one of the climactic scenes with Jordan at his mother’s graves brought me to tears; Ms. Ericksen can definitely pull out my emotions as well as those of the characters.
If the trilogy sounds interesting, I strongly suggest that you start with the first, Key of Light; I’ve recently listened to it in audio and can heartily recommend it. As for the second, if I choose to reread, I’ll opt for the print version rather than the audio.
Breakdown of Grade – Narration: C and Book Content: B+