Olivia Woods' 'The Soul Key' is a follow-up to her previous novel, 2008's 'Fearful Symmetry'. In all, I felt 'The Soul Key' was just okay. Compared to other books in the DS9-Relaunch series, it lacks a certain edge and emotional depth to it. It comes off as very comic-book like; more action than character development, lack of feeling, just not enough depth and a conclusion that lacked excitement.
The Good: This book wraps, for the most part, the Mirror Universe saga that's been played with for the past few years in the books. There are still some unanswered questions brought up by previous books, but 'The Soul Key' sets out to wrap and conclude the Iliana Ghemor arc that began in 'Warpath' and was the center of 'Fearful Symmetry'. Unlike that book, 'The Soul Key' fleshes out the Ghemor characters. We are treated to a host of Mirror Universe DS9 appearances, from O'Brien to a Mirror Universe Vaughn and even Winn and Opaka. In this way, it felt like a real Deep Space Nine story with many familiar characters being woven into the story.
The Bad: The book featured more action than it did character development. The main cast of characters really serve as a back-drop to this novel. Though Captain Kira and Commander Elias Vaughn are the main 'stars' of the novel, really, they aren't given much in terms of development. After waiting so many months for this novel, and years for this plot to be fleshed out, as a reader, I was expecting or wanting more movement in the plot surrounding the main group of characters of the re-launch series. We're only given a few moments that hint at what's in store for Dax; Ro Laren is reduced to nothing more than a cameo appearance. At the conclusion of the book, my reaction wasn't one of real excitement. Instead, it was a shrug and question. That's it? We've been waiting all of these months, these years, for this? The book itself is anti-climatic and seems (ultimately) beneath the quality of a majority of the relaunch novels.
In all, 'The Soul Key' is a quick read that suffers from a simplistic plot execution. If you come in expecting a lot of movement and development of the main group of characters - think again. It appears we'll have to wait another year or two before there's a novel that deals with the main core group. The book is also confusing in that much of the plot builds upon the previous novel and past novellas - all of which were published a year or more ago. It was hard, even having read all of the novels, to recall small plot details and facts. A decent read, not horrible, but confusing at parts and unsatisfying at the end.