Take the Key and Lock Her Up by Ally Carter // Book Reviews

Hey hey!

I have FINALLY finished the Embassy Row series by Ally Carter. So, today I have a review for the finale of the series. It’s spoiler free so if you haven’t read this book yet and want to know my thoughts first, read ahead! If you haven’t read book #1 or 2, I recommend reading them first before reading this review. Just as a precaution because I don’t want to accidentally spoil you. But there aren’t any major spoilers from the previous books if you’re worried. Let’s begin!

30254923Take the Key and Lock Her Up by Ally Carter

Series: Embassy Row (#3)
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Publication: December 27th 2016 by Scholastic Press
Pages: 327
Source: Borrowed

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.


I found the concept of this series real great with the conspiracies, lost princesses and secret societies. However, the overall execution didn’t impress me even and I was disappointed after each book in the series. I believe this novel was much too short to deal with all the conflicts and ideas explored so there wasn’t enough depth and development. Perhaps I’m rating this book a bit higher than my actual feelings. I feel like it’s more of a 2.75 but I’m feeling generous. Plenty of angst, plenty of drama. Let’s get into it.


I was confused for a while at the beginning of this book. It felt a bit directionless and I couldn’t understand what the squad was trying to achieve. I had some serious The Princess Diaries vibes in the second half. We don’t really get to learn anything significant until the last portion of the book. It was still an entertaining read. I was just hoping for greater intensity for a finale. The story wrapped up a little too nicely, too easy in my opinion and, it didn’t seem realistic. However, there aren’t any irritating loose ends. The revealed “truth” at the end really didn’t seem as horrible as everyone was making it out to be. It was a tad anticlimactic.

The murder mystery element and mystery component in general mostly disappeared due to the revelations of the previous books. There was so much potential in this series, tucked away and ready to be awesome so I’m kind of frustrated.  It took a whole for the gang to get back into action. Grace tends to be isolated for a lot of the book somehow getting lost/kidnapped/separated. The standard.


There’s a different vibe in this book. We have grace with the whole “on the run” thing going on. So, we exit Adria for a large portion of the novel to run around in the U.S. I found myself to be rather confused with the different settings because I couldn’t figure out when they left someplace to another. Like where were the transitions?


So, we get a bunch of mysteries and a bunch of teens attempting to figure them out. Of course, at the centre there’s Grace but I wished the gang had a greater presence. I liked getting to know them in the first book, but then they kind of disappeared in the second one. So, the friendship that evolved in the first book disappeared in the second, only to come back in this one. However, it seemed that Grace’s friends only appeared at necessary times with “crucial information” and that was a huge disappointment for me. Rosie is so adorable and precious. She’s the youngest of the squad and one of those characters that must be protected at all costs. Then there’s Noah who’s great, Alexei who I found pretty meh and Megan who’s a whiz.

We have a whole cast of diverse characters and I love the number of different races there are. It would be suspicious if there wasn’t considering the books are set in a place with a whole lot of embassies from different countries all lined up on a street. However, the only thing there was to identify this were labels of ethnicities. And it was quite bland. I’m wary to call it diversity.

Grace was much less irritating in this book. She can still be annoying a lot of the time due to her melodramatic nature. But I’m happy it was more subdued in this book. Her thoughts can be extremely repetitive and we’ve got plenty of that internal monologue going on. This was annoying because she could not make up her mind. On the other hand, she can be rash and thoughtless and a lot of problems probably could have been solved if she didn’t have such a struggle with this. I guess you can say she’s a teenager thrusted with heaps of responsibility so it is a realistic portrayal of a dynamic teenage girl. These types of characters particularly annoy me though and perhaps my expectations are too high. But, her unreliable nature does add to the story and make it unpredictable.

“No you misunderstand, Madame Prime Minister. I’m not just good at staying alive. I’m also really, really good at drugging people.”

(This dialogue I did enjoy)

Grace’s sarcasm (which used to be my favourite thing about her) felt a bit off in this book. I just wanted her to hush. Also, she’s got the “I’ve got the whole world on my shoulder and everything is my responsibility and that happens in my fault” attitude and ugh. It’s different to being an independent teen. So, we kind of get the self-sacrificing with consultation trope.

She’s just feels so immature and it’s difficult to enjoy a book when you dislike a lot of the actions of the protagonist. I could not deal with her reckless behaviour. I really tried to excuse some of her behaviour because of the horrors she’s faced, her shame and guilt. But a lot of the time, I couldn’t because someone needs to put some common sense into this girl. However, her PTSD which is completely valid kind of disappeared, which I thought was strange. I know I’m nit-picking at Grace’s character but when you start ranting, it’s difficult to stop. I know that she is the protagonist so she gets the most attention, but if felt there wasn’t any (significant) secondary character development.

The parentals are mysteriously absent and seemed unconcerned about the whereabouts of their children. Teens casually travel to another continent? No signs of parental involvement. And apparently, the adults of the world are absolutely incompetent at… anything. Considering the teens seemed out of their league, it made the adults look even worse.

I didn’t realise until someone mentioned it, but where is Grace’s dad? Was this explained?

I’ve said this before but I am not a fan of the romance between Grace and Alexei, and this book didn’t convince me otherwise. I didn’t get any chemistry between them or when this romantic relationship started so if someone could please point me in that direction, I will be grateful.


This book consisted of mostly short sentences and I’m not quite sure whether they worked in the book’s favour. I think they were attempts of making it sound epic but often fell short and ended up feeling awkward.


This was definitely a fast paced book. Although this did make the story a bit jumpy and I had a couple of moments where I needed to reread a scene to understand what happened. However, I got through the book quickly.


“Nursery rhymes usually start with the truth,” I say, thinking of the song my mother used to sing to me about Adria’s lost little princess.

I still don’t quite understand the meaning of the titles. I thought I did, but I didn’t. Someone help me.

Unfortunately, this series wasn’t for me. I really enjoyed Carter’s previous works but this trilogy just felt meh. Though I still can’t wait for new books from Ally Carter.

3 stars

Goodreads   Purchase *

Emily x


What did you think of the book? Do you usually have high standards for series finales? Were you a fan of the characters? Comment below!

* I am a Book Depository affiliate

Leave a reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s