Publisher: Maple and Pine
Word Count: 145,111
Publication Date: November 3, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-7334642-1-5 | Trade paper, 448 pages, 6” x 9”, $17.95
BARCODE: 9 781733 464215
ISBN: 978-1-7334642-2-2 | Kindle $2.99
ISBN: 978-1-7334642-0-8 | Ebook - EPUB $2.99
ASIN: B07X9NZWTQ | Kindle $2.99
A squad of marines tracks fugitive aliens to a space station. They attack a rebel cell, and their leader, Admiral Victus, possesses one of the rebels and tricks a ship mechanic named Jack into following the fugitive aliens to the Sol system.
Jenny Tripper is a teenage girl with a knack for telling fortunes. She lives with a literal ghost, and her mother has cancer, a curse of their family. While she cares for her mother, Jenny dreams of one day leaving her New Zealand home and seeing the world.
When Jenny opens a strange puzzle, she activates a message from a mega-corporation that is testing gifted individuals for recruitment into a secret mission. But, before she can solve the challenging puzzle, her mother dies.
After her mother’s funeral, Jenny solves the puzzle, and it transforms into a large box with a ladder inside. She climbs down the ladder and finds herself in a forest. Jenny gets lost, but her silent ghost leads her to a site of ancient ruins where Jenny finds a strange key, and her ghost disappears.
Shortly after, Jenny is found by a representative of the mega-corporation who tells her to hide the key. Jenny is then onboarded into the program where she meets other recruits, and a recent hire named Jack. She also learns the details of the secret mission.
The mega-corporation seeks to unlock an intergalactic gateway, and the recruits must compete for a key that will make them masters of the gateway. She now understands why she must keep her key a secret. Meanwhile, Jack informs Victus that he has located the fugitive aliens.
Jenny struggles in the competition until one of the aliens teaches her how to use her power. The next day, she gets the highest score in the competition and wins the right to unlock the gateway. Her victory is short-lived however because Victus arrives with a small army and steals the key and the aliens.
Though devastated, Jenny learns that there is still a chance to save the aliens with the key she found. She teams up with Jack—who is angry that Victus tricked him—and two of the other recruits. Together, they head to outer space to unlock the gateway.
They succeed in getting to the gateway first, but Victus arrives before Jenny can unlock it. Jenny and Victus face-off over the final lock while ally and enemy fleets do battle. Using her newly realized powers, Jenny overpowers Victus and throws him into the gateway just as it activates.
Having unlocked and activated the gateway, Jenny agrees to become the galactic representative for the Sol system, and she returns home with the cure to her family’s curse. Though Jenny is still sad over the loss of her mother, she has found a new purpose in life and has embraced who she is.
Praise for The Key of Astrea
The entire concept of The Key of Astrea depends on Nicholas Marson's ability to establish Jenny's character carefully, strongly, and immediately. I was amazed and glad to see that Marson took care to create a thorough background in just the first few lines of Jenny's entrance. Her background as a Roma moved to New Zealand is just fascinating, and truly makes her courageous acts later in the story believable and accessible.
- Judge, 7th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published eBook Awards
The Key of Astrea by Nicholas Marson (Maple and Pine, 2019) is a young adult adventure novel with elements of fantasy and science fiction blended together. With some characters that you want to root for, and others that you will love to hate...
With elements of fantasy and science fiction, adventure and romance, The Key of Astrea is one of the most entertaining stories I’ve read in a long time, keeping me reading way late into the evening...
The Key of Astrea is a powerful tale, action-packed, and filled with emotionally intense moments. Nicholas Marson comes across as a master storyteller, who combines realism with high tech concepts to create a story that is transporting...
“The Key of Astrea combines wildly imaginative science fiction with an inspiring young hero who navigates the difficult boundaries of her own identity, her struggles with mental health, and her own recent grief…while battling for the fate of multiple universes. It’s a bold yet sensitive tale that artfully juggles a genre-bending story with the careful and inspiring treatment of difficult concepts—and packs a butt-kicking punch along the way! Young and mature readers alike will be rooting for this complicated yet unequivocally heroic young woman at every turn.”
- Lynsey G., co-founder of Oneshi Press, and IPPY Award-winning author
“The Key of Astrea by Nicholas Marson is a science fiction novel featuring a heroine with a heart of gold and powers that will bewitch you. When a strange holographic woman appeared in her bedroom to sixteen-year-old Jenny Tripper and said that she may have the power to save the solar system, Jenny thought she had either lost her mind or there was something wrong with her. But her ideas change when she realizes that she is not the only one. There are many others like her, people who have special powers just like her and they may be the key to saving their solar system. The only problem is that they have to hone their skills, master their powers and be worthy of wielding a Key that may be the answer to all their prayers. However, when a starship arrives and attacks them and the aliens they have captured, Jenny and the others must work harder than before to not only protect the aliens but the key as well if they want to protect the solar system. It is a big job, a serious job, but is Jenny ready for the responsibility? Does she have it in her?
This is a true coming of age story, one where the heroine had ample opportunities to grow, develop and correct herself. Becoming invested was the easiest thing to do and putting the book down was the hardest. I didn’t want the story to end, I wanted to know more about Jenny, and I wanted to see what happened next right away. Jenny is so unique, she is not your typical damsel in distress but she realized she had to save herself. She knew what she was capable of from the very beginning and she knew that she had the potential to unlock the power within her. So she did her best and I loved her for that. She is very empowering and that makes her one of the best heroines I have read so far this year. To say that I enjoyed this novel will be an understatement and I literally can’t wait for the next novel in the series. Simply fantastic.”
- Rabia Tanveer
“The Key of Astrea is a work of science fiction, fantasy and coming of age which was penned by author Nicholas Marson. Written for more mature audiences from teens upwards, this conceptual and adventurous work focuses on sixteen-year-old Jenny Tripper as its central heroine. Jenny has often struggled with visions and ghosts coming to her to visit, so when she is told that she may be the one true savior of the solar system, she doesn’t pay it much attention. But when Jenny falls into another universe altogether and finds that she is not alone in the strange gifts she has been given, an incredible journey of strength, skill and space battles soon begins.
One of the things I truly loved about this epic science fiction adventure tale was the way that author Nicholas Marson works some very real mental health issues into Jenny’s storyline, and realistically portrays the psychological difficulties that having supernatural powers and an otherworldly destiny would really have on a teenage hero. Jenny is well developed and likable from the start, and readers will develop great empathy for her amid her exciting struggles, failures, and triumphs, of which there are plenty in this very dynamic plot. Acting in part as a thrilling comic book style space war, and in other parts as an effective and relatable coming of age drama, Marson has created a well-balanced tale that teen readers and adults will both enjoy. Overall, The Key of Astrea is a recommended read for YA sci-fi fans everywhere.”
- K.C. Finn
“'We are assembling a team of unique young people with potential abilities. Abilities that are needed to save a group of people called Selkans. In exchange for your help, Cabin promises to develop your natural talents and cure your ailments.' With her mother succumbing to cancer, 16-year-old Jenny Tripper is trying to brave through her daily life when she receives a strange gift from an acquaintance. She soon finds out that she has been chosen for an important mission in which the survival of an alien race depends on her and others’ special abilities, including a very special key that will unlock a galactic gateway. The Key of Astrea is a coming-of-age, sci-fi adventure by Nicholas Marson.
The story started off by introducing readers to the frightening antagonist Admiral Vae Victus, whose ability to possess his enemies’ minds and bodies was revealed after an ambush against a small group of rebels. On the other hand, it was easy to empathize with Jenny, and her character growth during her time in Acacia City was nicely developed. It was also easy to root for Jack Spriggan who didn’t know the truth about his mission in the beginning. As a coffee lover, I was delighted that my favorite drink played a small but quite a significant part in the story. There are enough thrilling moments to engage sci-fi fans in Marson’s The Key of Astrea which incorporates space travel, alternate universes and extraordinary individuals called ‘Æons’. With its steady-paced plot, clear narrative as well as intricate world-building and interesting characters, this sci-fi novel is a solid read that both YA and older fans of the genre will enjoy.”
- Lit Amri
“The Key of Astrea by Nicholas Marson is a young adult science fiction coming of age tale. Jenny Tripper is sixteen and, yes, there is a good chance she is crazy. On the other hand, as the holographic woman who appeared in her room told her, she could just be the only person with the power to save the entire solar system. It could just have been a ghost, of course, another one, but then Jenny finds herself falling, landing in an alternate universe. Caught in a conflict, she could be the key to the runaway aliens’ freedom but to do that, she has abilities that she must master. There are others like her though and now she has to fight them to get to the key that leads to freedom, a galactic gateway key. Only when a spaceship arrives to collect the aliens does she join forces with her competitors to fight against total military control. Will she master her powers in time? Or will they all be too late?
"The Key of Astrea by Nicholas Marson is an imaginative coming of age story with the main protagonist who is trying to deal with much for her age – grief, mental health, even her own identity – yet at the same time, she is fighting to save a race of aliens. Mr. Marson has written a masterful tale here and clearly he has a fabulous, highly creative imagination and that comes through on every page of this delightful tale. With well-developed characters and a great, action-packed plot, this story will have you hanging onto every word, spellbound as you follow our young hero through every battle – personal and to save the solar system. It’s bound to attract adult readers as well as the younger generations and I guarantee you this is a story you won't forget in a hurry.”
- Anne-Marie Reynolds