To quote a legend, a hero, and a fearless writer, Nora Ephron: “Reading is everything. Reading makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something, learned something, become a better person. Reading makes me smarter. Reading gives me something to talk about later on. Reading is the unbelievably healthy way my attention deficit disorder medicates itself. Reading is escape, and the opposite of escape; it’s a way to make contact with reality after a day of making things up, and it’s a way of making contact with someone else’s imagination after a day that’s all too real. Reading is grist. Reading is bliss.”

This could be embroidered on my sofa pillows, engraved in the pillars and beams of my house.  It’s difficult to find a chair or nook which doesn’t offer at least one reading selection nearby, often in more than one form—hardback, paperback, magazine, e-reader, newspaper, laptops—and more than one genre or discipline: poetry, essays, non-fiction, romance, mystery, suspense, biography, travel, self-help, novels considered page-turners and literary, though I cringe a bit at separating them from the afore-mentioned categories. (I’ll write a post about that in the near future.)

As a novelist, I find the amount of time I have to dedicate to reading others’ works is being squeezed a bit.  Most of you have likely noticed the waning frequency of my blog posts, another sign of the deadlines I’ve been facing.  But I am forever hopeful, filling my coffers with offerings which hold promise.

And I am happy to be able to share a novel I have owned since its release in February of this year, and have finally had the chance to slowly savor.  Its author, K.H. Mezek, is one of the talented writers I had the good fortune to get to know during my residencies at Noepe Center for Literary Arts on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.

Key of Mystery, book 1 in the Night Angels Chronicles, promises to be intriguing, and it is.  Right from the beginning, I was drawn into the Young Adult novel, and the girl whose eighteenth birthday fell on a Friday the 13th, which also happened to be the day of her father’s funeral.  With the only clue to his mysterious death being an ancient key, Sera embarks on a journey involving demons, Night Angels sent for her protection, and a political establishment determined to unleash disaster.  Like a Pandora’s Box, the key can open a portal for annihilation, and it is desired by many, possibly even the man she is falling in love with—Peter. Mezek has expertly captured the voices of her characters—from the teenagers, to the drug addict mother, to one of my favorites in this novel—Vera, the housekeeper.

Mezek teases us in the prologue with a 1934 Los Angeles Times article quoting a Hopi legend about a Lizard City built beneath it some 5,000 years prior by a civilization expecting a rain of fire; and the disappearance of a mining expert whose search through the existing 280 tunnels beneath Los Angeles was funded by a LA Council.

As I read, I found myself wondering if there was a tablet holding the Secrets to the Origins of Life, and if so, what power it might possess.  This, it turns out, is a perfect way to consume this beautifully written, tension-filled novel, whose ending is as prophetic and teasing as its beginning.  Mezek’s readers will be drooling for Book 2.  Stay tuned for more on this series as it unfolds.

key of mystery

Renee Johnson is the author of Acquisition, and The Haunting of William Gray.  She is currently working on a Young Adult novel, while editing a suspense novel which has international flair–an homage to her love of travel and foreign food.  She lives on a farm in North Carolina with her husband, Tony Johnson, and two very spoiled German shepherds named Hansel and Gretel.