Enjoyable. Short and not exactly highbrow literature but enjoyable as a summer reading, when you want to lose yourself in another time and place. For me it was quite predictable for the most part, despite its claim as a "mystery". It was however not boring, simply because I was in the mood to immerse myself in a different time and break away from the present for a while. Therefore, I would say that ,when read in the right state of mind, it can make for a pleasant experience, as long as you do not expect a whole lot in terms of mystery (it is not Sherlock Holmes, by any means) and if you miss the simple, Romantic atmosphere of the 1800's. It does not tackle any complicated philosophical dilemmas and does not require a rested brain. It is a simple story that should be read for its specific mood.
This mystery story is not the type of writing usually associated with Louisa Alcott and I was delightfully surprised at the way she weaves clues into the story. You know a character or an event will somehow relate to the mystery, but there are several possible explanations for each event or character. I couldn't predict the ending, though it makes perfect sense when things are explained. What the mysterious key opens comes as a complete surprise and is a little shocking, especially for a story written in that time period. The story reads quickly, not bogged down by excessive description. Highly recommend it!
A fatal legacy and buried secret haunt the widow and daughter of a rich man who died after a visit from a mysterious stranger. What horrid news did the stranger impart to cause the man's sudden death? And does the young boy who miraculously appears and befriends the family know anything about it? Is his obvious devotion to the widow and young mistress as pure as it seems?
If you're at all familiar with Alcott's Little Women, you'll understand what I mean when I say that this story reminds me of the stories that Jo must have written before she was taught that all-important truth of "writing what you know." It's a nicely written suspense story but it certainly does not rival Alcott's better works. For a short (and free!) read, though, it is a good pick!
I don't quite get why Paul was shoving Helen's offer back into her face, upon the revelation of Sir Richard's secret. In fact the she trevekan revelation doesn't quite make sense, or why it was locked away with Sir Richard's body.
Before I read this I wasn't aware of a short mystery story written by Louisa May Alcott. "The Mysterious Key and What it Opened" is intriguing enough by the title, and once I started reading there were characters who were suspicious, but their reasons weren't obvious. Now that I've read it, I can go back and see clues right from the start, but Alcott wove a few little twists into the story and just enough to throw the reader off.
Several of the characters harbor secrets, but what they are will be revealed later in the story and what the mysterious key opens was a complete surprise to me. A grieving widow, the daughter, a strange young man who shows up and stays, and shadows in the night all make for a very good mystery that is a bit different from what I'd expect from Louisa May Alcott. A very pleasing story.