Book Review – Take the Key and Lock Her Up by Ally Carter

Take the Key and Lock Her Up (Embassy Row #3)

Author: Ally Carter

Publication: December 27th, 2016

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Format: Kindle Edtion, 336 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Thriller, Mental Health

Read: April 2017

Ally CarterGoodreads


The princess is dead. Long live the princess.
Centuries ago, the royal family of Adria was killed…or so everyone thought.
Now Grace Blakely knows the truth: There was one survivor, and that survivor’s blood runs through her veins. This simple fact could cause a revolution—which is why some people will stop at nothing to keep it from coming to light.
There is only one way for Grace to save herself, save her family, and save the boy she loves. She must outmaneuver her foes, cut through the web of lies that has surrounded her for years, and go back to the source of all her troubles, despite the risk.
If she wins, she will inherit a throne.
And if she loses, she will inherit the fate of all the dead princesses who came before her.


Plot – 3.5 out of 5 stars
Sadly, I’m still disappointed. The plot of this book is full of mystery and suspense. There’s action, it’s dramatic, full of death and violence. But it was still kind of boring. Honestly, I just think this series tries too hard to be intense and it doesn’t pull it off as well as it thinks it does. This book was not as entertaining as I wanted and the ending wasn’t that surprising.

Writing Style – 4 out of 5 stars
Part of me feels like I should complain more about the writing style considering that most of my issues with this series comes down to execution but I just can’t help flying through these books. The writing is set a medium place but it’s simple and easy to read. It’s a bit intense, kind of emotional but unfortunately, those things didn’t really translate well. It was confusing sometimes and it could get repetitive.

Characters – 3.5 out of 5 stars
This is definitely my least favorite part of this series which is so sad because I’ve really loved this author’s characters in the past. I just wasn’t feeling the main character and the side characters barely show up enough throughout the story to be considered a part of it.
Grace gets on my nerves. I tried, I swear I really tried to understand where she’s coming from but she’s just really dramatic and pessimistic to the point where reading from her point of view was draining for me. She’s reckless and angry and she gets pulled into crappy situations because she’s just not clearheaded at all. She’s depressed, worried and just totally and completely frustrating for me.
There’s not enough page time for the side characters. From the friendships, to the romance, even to the familial relationships portrayed in this book, they all just show up when they’re needed and there’s never any actual development to back up everything the dialogue is trying to say. I don’t know the side characters well at all and it’s another one of the things that made this series disappointing overall.


I was hoping for this finale to blow me away completely but this is definitely my least favorite series from Ally Carter. That statement kind of makes me want to cry!

The plot was dark. We follow Grace who is running for her life along with her brother and his best friend after learning about their heritage and the danger that follows it. Unfortunately, running doesn’t solve anything for them and she finds herself right back where all her troubles started. This series has been generally lackluster for me and sadly, this book continued with that pattern. The plot of this book is supposed to be dark and dramatic, full of suspense and mystery and make the reader feel like things are getting more and more dire as the story goes on. But it just didn’t make me feel anything. It was like it was hitting all the emotional spots it was supposed to but didn’t actually transmit itself like it should’ve. It felt kind of generic. Maybe it’s because I’m such a huge fan of that style of contemporary thrillers that this one just didn’t resonate as much with me but it was just very plain. It was really easy to read and I flew through the chapters, but it was generally uninteresting. I found that I didn’t really care either way, if the characters survived or if things went their way, I just wasn’t invested enough. There wasn’t a lot of action in this book in particular, one of the few things that had me more interested overall throughout the books, and I didn’t have a lot of connection with the main character or the side characters and there wasn’t much to keep my attention as the book went on. Despite all of these general complaints, I didn’t hate the book. I appreciate what the author was trying to do and I kind of like that she branched out from the usual kinds of stories that she writes, even if I didn’t particularly like the result. It was entertaining as I read and the ending was fine, not the mind blowing splash that I was expecting but definitely a solid closure for such a roller coaster of a series. I wish I could’ve loved this as much as I wanted to but it just wasn’t for me.

Grace is just incredibly frustrating for me. I got really tired of her drama and her pessimism. I understand why she is the way she is and how her history affects her actions and her thoughts, but there comes a time when I would like my main characters to accept their emotional hurts but to try and work through them. Grace never actually got through that. She had very little emotional and personal development throughout the story. After three books of her putting herself down and taking everything on her own shoulders, it just got all and it was too much for me. She had a lot of potential as a character but she just got on my nerves.

It hurts me a lot to see the side characters get such a short end of the stick. Considering how frustrating Grace is for me, I’d hoped that the side characters could lift the spirits of the book as well as her own spirits. However, they don’t really get the chance to. There’s a lot of talk of how nice they are to her and how great of friends they are, but the only time they show up within the narrative are when Grace needs saving or she needs them to pull off some crazy idea that she thinks will help solve her problems. None of them really talk and I found it quite strange that they jumped in head first in a lot of her schemes when she was actually keeping things from them. And don’t even get me started on the romance. There’s no chemistry between the characters, a past history that sounds more distant than the main character tries to make you think it is and no actual development of their relationship as the series goes on.

Overall, I just wanted so much more from this book and this series. The plot was supposed to be an intense ride with the main character as she tries to piece together all these different aspects of her life but it just didn’t feel as powerful as I feel the author wanted it. It was easy to read and entertaining while I was paying attention to it, but generally not impressing and bland compared to my favorite books from this kind of genre.

So that’s it for this post! I’m done with reviews for this series guys I swear haha. I really want to thank everyone who is still sticking around and looking at my posts, even though I’ve been super inconsistent and quiet through the blogosphere. This month has been kind of hard for me and my mental health but I hope that next month gets better and I can keep better pace with the posts I want to share with you all. Thanks so much for reading and I’ll see you on my next post!


3 thoughts on “Book Review – Take the Key and Lock Her Up by Ally Carter

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