The League of Skull & Bones by M.J. Fletcher
Jess Grimm has the ability to travel to any dimension in the multiverse. There’s only one problem… it’s killing her.
Jess is a in a race against time to find a device that can slow the progression of the power inside her, but she isn’t alone. Others want her power, and they don’t care how they get, or if she is dead or alive when they do.
The only person willing to help her is the mysterious Ronan Sparrow a member of the League of Skull & Bones, one of the very groups that want her power. But what does Ronan want in return? Can Jess trust him or will she find herself alone with enemies on all sides?
The League of Skull & Bones, Book 1 of The Grimm Chronicles
Available on Amazon League of Skull & Bones (The Grimm Chronicles Book 1) † BN
When I saw this was the first book in a new fantasy/steampunk series, I looked forward to jumping into it. I found the book’s synopsis intriguing and couldn’t wait to read Jess’s story. I had not read any of M.J. Fletcher’s other works, and, unfortunately, I didn’t realize until after I had finished the book that it is a spin-off from The Doorknob Society Saga. Although this story can technically stand alone, and, overall, I was able to understand and follow the plot easily, I have to admit that while reading the book, I kept wishing to know more about Jess’s past and the experiences that led her to become the hardened, scarred young woman who is introduced to us in The League of Skull & Bones. Now, I want to backtrack and read with The Doorknob Society so that I can fully appreciate the creative futuristic fictional world Fletcher has created and have a better understanding of the dramatic transformation that Jess has already gone through when The League of Skull & Bones begins.
Jess Grimm is a member of the Skeleton Key Guild, one of several societies that exist among the “Old Kind,” a human species with the ability to harness energy to open portals and travel among dimensions in this complex, multiversal world. All members of the Guild possess a skeleton key which allows them to access their powers; however, Jess doesn’t need a key because her body has become the vessel itself for “the Artifact,” a great power that has been infused within her.
The skeleton key tattoos embedded in each of her forearms symbolize the potent power she now possesses. Although the author doesn’t go into detail about the circumstances of why and how Jess obtained the Artifact, it seems her powers are superior to those contained in the skeleton keys other members carry. It is also evident that Jess is still struggling to embrace and manage the new power she now wields. While others envy her and long to possess the power within her, she sees the Artifact as a curse since it is literally draining her life force every time she uses it.
The plot centers around Jess’s journey to find a Timelock, a rare and illegal piece of technology that can stop the Artifact from burning her out and eventually killing her. The entire story is narrated from Jess’s POV and, while it limits our understanding of other events taking place and we aren’t able to get insight into any other characters’ thoughts and motivations, her POV is effective in building angst and suspense as Jess struggles to figure out whom she can really trust. Both her grandmother, head of the Old Kind Council, and her mentor/trainer, DeAndre, keep warning her to be wary of others and to question everyone’s motives.
Although I missed out on understanding how Jess’s life used to be, she refers to herself as being a changed woman, one who carries both physical and emotional scars from what she’s endured from the past. The Jess I meet is a strong heroine whose intelligence, skill, and kick-ass power have made her a valuable member of the Council’s special teams who are tasked with hunting down criminals. After fighting in an Old Kind war, Jess has earned the reputation of being a skilled fighter and killer; by her name alone, she is both feared and revered by others of her race.
Jess is still haunted by nightmares of a gruesome attack and tends to keep her personal distance from others. The scars that mar her body are one main reason she avoids relationships, although two men who are featured in the book, Merric and Ronan, will eventually cause her to reconsider her need for the comfort and support a personal relationship can offer.
In her journey to save her own life, Jess discovers a ruthless enemy, Nyla Foxglove, is scheming for a way to take Jess’s power from her regardless of the repercussions. Nyla is a tauntingly evil antagonist whose arrogance and self-serving needs make her easy to immediately dislike. In order to defeat Nyla, Jess infiltrates The League of Skull & Bones, a secretive and elite group of enforcers the Council uses to do their “dirty work” in order to find out who among the Council is allied with Nyla and her plans for a coup.
This first book in the Grimm Chronicles is full of mystery, suspenseful action, and a slight touch of romance all rolled up into a well-crafted plot with one heck of a shocking cliff-hanger ending that left me reeling!
The book was an enjoyable read, but I still wish more details about Jess’s backstory were included to help me connect with her more easily and see the full depth of her character. However, I also realize that including this exposition would be redundant for those readers who have already been following The Doorknob Society Saga and want to continue the journey by reading The Grimm Chronicles. Overall, this first book shows a promising start to this imaginative new series.
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
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Reading Order for The Doorknob Society Saga:
The Doorknob Society
The Skeleton Key Guild