My rating: 3 of 5 stars
November Keys is described by the authors as a comedy/thriller mingled with fantasy. The storyline is around a football club called November Keys from an English village of the same name. Mixed with this are American gangsters, a myth around ancient creatures who live in the village oak tree, plus a secret recipe for a honey drink magical with beneficiary powers.
It’s a lot to get the readers head around. The village football club, originally housed in a Victorian built structure now plays in a World Super League from a stadium which seats 100000 spectators. The new stadium is funded by American Gangsters who seek a base for their drug cartels and want the secret honey recipe to take over the world.
The American’s bribe or bully the villagers into selling their land, but strange events occur when they try to cut down the ancient tree. John Goldsmith, a man for whom everything must be gold, also wants the secret honey recipe and plots to rescue the village from the gangsters.
I liked the mystical leaf creatures and their desire to protect the village, it worked well as a fantasy storyline, with the back story of the village witch. Mixing this with a football theme was a brave move. Football and sport are a long stretch from fantasy and trying to move a reader’s mind from what they know about football and persuading them to slide this towards fantasy is a risk. Then placing American gangsters who are suited to cities in an English village setting is also a big ask for a debut novel.
The storyline jumps 10 years back and forth at times and there are other plot jumps which take some getting used to. I would have liked characters to be introduced slower and with more depth and individuality so that the reader has a chance to connect to them. I think too many differing strong genre types have been worked into this book in a setting which I struggled to believe, would a football stadium of that size really be built in a village? No it would be a large town or a city. Every book genre, even fantasy has to be believable to work.
A good try for a debut novel but more attention to the storyline needed.
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