Fourteen-year-old Genna has never before broken one of the most fundamental laws of her people: never to leave her house at night, and never to go into the forest after dusk. The forest, which borders her small village, is inhabited by nightlings, mysterious creatures with legendary powers. The two realms are kept at peace only by an ancient treaty, giving humans reign over day, and nightlings rule by night.
But then Genna and her brother Dan break the pact and journey into the forest at night, thinking that only there lies the hope of saving their mother from the brink of death. Instead, they uncover something more dire than they could have imagined. A nightling slave tells them of a dangerous agreement the village’s leader has made with the nightling leader, Letrin—a scheme which, if fulfilled, could cost much more than Genna’s mother’s life.
When Genna is brought before Letrin herself, she strikes a deal with him whose terms even she doesn’t fully understand. She must set off with her brother along dark Moonroads to bring back what Letrin has requested, and uncover the truth about the nightlings, truths which will overturn the parts of her world she has always taken for granted.
The Ruby Key was an interesting, well-written fantasy with a lush and well-developed world of danger, mystery, and power. It took me a little longer than normal to get into this book, mostly because of the layers of the world I was trying to understand, but once I did, I was hooked. Genna is an excellent, relatable character with strong motivations and a likable personality. And the world is like a character in and of itself, with multilayered history and magical creatures of dangerous power, the kind of world fans of Blackbringer will love.
This book is on the older end of the middle-grade age range, so I would recommend it to readers ages eleven and up; parts of it might honestly be scary for younger readers. However, for fantasy fans of that age who like strong plots and complex worlds, I would highly recommend The Ruby Key.