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The Primal Key by C.A. Hartley


Volume 1 of The Plight of the Plexus
by C.A. Hartley

Anne Clarke didn’t mean to mess with Alex’s destiny or place the family in danger. She just wanted a peak inside the box—the one Mom insisted she leave alone. Little did she know she was about to trigger the journey of a lifetime.

In C.A. Hartley’s debut fantasy middle grade novel, THE PRIMAL KEY: Volume 1 of The Plight of the Plexus, Anne struggles to find a purpose for her life. Unlike her twin, Alex, everything she does seems meaningless. Alex’s path is clear and Grandmother Isadora personally oversees his training. He spends most days studying ancient history and languages, perfecting the fine art of divination, and learning how to traverse past lives. If he’s properly prepared, the family believes Alex will complete a centuries-old, preordained ancestral quest to find the broken pieces of the Carnelian Tablet. Once found, the tablet will reveal the location of The Primal Key—the key that unlocks parallel dimensions.

After years of living in Alex’s shadow, Anne’s curiosity and envy get the best of her. She goes against Mom’s wishes and opens the forbidden storage box. As she rummages through its contents, Anne prematurely unleashes her suppressed talents—dangerous skills that can’t be curbed once released. In her panic, Anne accidentally creates an unstable portal that lands her in Central Park, New York City. Worse, Anne’s actions lead Seth Barthony, Grandmother’s murderous adversary, to their house.

As Grandmother’s comrades find Anne and whisk her to safety, Mom and Alex remain in danger. Mom forces Alex to flee while she lures away Seth’s agents. With the help of Aunt Selena, Alex escapes as Seth’s agents destroy their home and abduct Mom. With Mom in Seth’s clutches, Selena and Alex travel to New York to meet up with Anne. They plan to meet at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, one of Grandmother’s strongholds. But Seth’s agents have tracked Anne and plan an ambush. After narrowly avoiding capture in the Egyptian Art wing, the twins are dashed to Grandmother’s estate, where they learn that Seth has insisted Isadora hand over The Primal Key for Mom’s ransom.

The twins find themselves committed to precarious tasks to rescue Mom and search for The Primal Key. Alex scrambles to uncover clues to the key’s last resting place. The mission takes him to a world where he must speak with ghosts; converse with ancient Egyptian royalty; and search the Met. Anne remains at Grandmother’s estate to hone her talents, focusing on jumping into paintings to travel through time and moving through a web of dimensions. But Anne’s shaky skills could, if forced, kill her and those she loves.

As time runs out for Mom, Alex and Anne devise a risky plan to save her. Woven with facts about art and history, THE PRIMAL KEY is a highly original, fast-paced adventure that envisions a fantastical world where girls and boys can both save the day.

About C.A. Hartley:
Catherine Hartley (C.A. Hartley) is the author of the middle-grade series “Plight of the Plexus,” the first of which, The Primal Key, released in August 2016. Her fascination with the mysteries of the Universe, Renaissance paintings, and a love of fast-paced fantasy novels sparked her idea for the series. Catherine lives in New Jersey with her husband, son, and Styx, her labradoodle. Visit her at

Plight of the Plexus (Volume 1)
By C.A. Hartley
Published by Styxers Entertainment
Publication Date August 2016
ISBN 978-1945471094
Hardcover & Trade Paperback
252 Pages