“She really didn’t want to be one of the giggling girls in the audience, watching passively as the world changed around them.”
Infinity Key is the sequel to Matchbox Girls, the second book in Tzavelas’ Senyaza series. It takes up where the first book ended, but stands alone pretty well. Tzavelas’ does a good job of catching readers up to the plot, although that aspect does feel a little stiff in spots. Infinity Key follows Branwyn Lennox in her quest to rescue her friend who has fallen into a coma thanks to an angel with ill intent consuming her soul. Branwyn is the Action Girl to Marley Claviger’s Research Girl, some of which we got to see in MG. Branwyn shines in Infinity Key, though, and I’m really glad she got to be the star of her own book.
In order to achieve her quest, Branwyn makes a deal with a lord of Faerie and has to contend with his ulterior motives, a host of adversaries, plus her own family and a worried Marley who wants to protect her, but can’t without her permission. Part of the deal is that Tarn (the lord) shows Branwyn how to affect matter magically instead of physically (“dreams and metaphysics” meshing with “iron and steel and titanium.”).
Infinity Key is a good read, and much of that is thanks to the character of Branwyn Lennox. I found her to be a ton of fun because she really does live up to her nickname of Action Girl. She’s not one to mope and fret about what to do. She just does.
Which gets her into all sorts of trouble as she has to tangle with powerful kaiju, Severin (who we met in Matchbox Girls) and the Hunter. While these are not the traditional kaiju from Japanese horror movies, they are still monsters. The scene in chapter 16 where Branwyn actually sees what lurks under the guises these two show the human world is chilling. And while the characters are quite different, the attraction between Branwyn and Severin reminds me a smidge of that between Yeine Darr and the Nightlord in N.K. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. Just something about the terror lurking underneath, although with Severin, that terror isn’t restrained by anything.
One of the things I like about Infinity Key is that Branwyn’s attractions (she and Tarn have sparks (perhaps less frightening) happening, too) aren’t the center of the story. They’re there, but this isn’t a romance novel. Branwyn’s main focus is her dying friend. Saving her is what matters.
Branwyn also has to deal with other lords of Faerie, one of whom goes after her family. Apparently, Branwyn’s badassedness is genetic; her sisters are not people to mess with, either.
As with Matchbox Girls, the prose of Infinity Key is a pleasure to read, for the most part. Tzavelas’ comes up with some wonderful imagery: “handmade paper that smelled of the ocean” and eyes “gleaming like a new-wakened predator’s,” for example. Also, interesting uses of words: “acrid light”, sparkling winds, and a “faulted coast.” I took that last to mean California. What a fun choice.
My disappointments with Infinity Key are few. Occasionally, the writing stumbles, but hey, we can’t all be Ursula Le Guin. I also missed a few of the characters from Matchbox Girls—Corbin especially—but the characters we do meet and the ones we get to know better helped make up for that.
Infinity Key is a fun, fast-paced urban fantasy tale. It’s a good successor to Matchbox Girls. I’m very much looking forward to reading the next book in the Senyaza series, Wolf Interval.