Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger


Rating: 5/5 stars

Length: 496 pages

Series: Keeper of the Lost Cities, Book 1

Genres: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Adventure


I can honestly say that once I picked up this book I was unable to put it down. In fact, I ended up staying up until about 3:30am to finish this book because it was such an engaging read. “Just one more chapter” turned into reading the whole book in one night. While I don’t suggest giving up on sleep to anyone, I do suggest reading this book. It’s an amazing debut novel and shows that Messenger’s story telling will only get better as she continues to hone her craft.  Anyone who’s into fantasy novels (like the Percy Jackson books) would probably enjoy this novel.

Whether you’re a Middle Grader yourself or an older individual, such as myself, I recommend giving this book a read. No matter how old you are, I truly believe that you’ll be able to find something in this book that you enjoy. You might even be able to find something in this story/world that you feel like you can relate to.

Keeper of the Lost Cities a fantasy book about a twelve year old name Sophie Foster who isn’t like your normal kid. Not only is she a Senior in high school, she’s also a telepath – someone who’s able to read minds. Believe it or not, that’s the most normal thing about Sophie and her world in this book!

While the size of this book might seem daunting, it’s a quick read full of action and adventure. The characters are engaging and feel real, almost as if they could jump off the page and hold a conversation with you. The plot was interesting and left me wanting more – which makes me happy it’s a decently sized series. There are so many twists and turns in this series that it got to the point where I had to keep reminding myself who was on what side and how they’d proved that. I loved every second of it.

Sophie herself is a great character to follow around and get into the mind of. While she’s only twelve, due to circumstances unknown to Sophie at the start of this book Sophie is much more mature than I was at twelve. She’s able to think through her actions and make decisions based on what she believes will do the best good for society. The fact that she has to make these decisions just goes to show how much pressure is on little Sophie’s shoulders!

Fitz, the mysterious boy that introduces Sophie to her new world, doesn’t play as big of a role in this story as I would have expected, but I can’t say I’m disappointed at that. Sure Fitz was an amazing character to read about, but the other characters that we get introduced to more than make up for Fitz not being in every scene. He still plays a main part in the story, and does so wonderfully, but it shows that things are bigger than just two teenagers.

In regards to the secrets in Sophie’s memory, this book only teases out a few of those secrets which left me wanting more. I know that this plot line will play an important role in the whole series which makes me glad that Messenger didn’t give everything away in the first book. I can’t wait to see how this plot line progresses.

Another thing that I really enjoyed about this novel was the fact that the characters acted appropriate to their ages. Many Middle Grade or Young Adult books I read make the main characters seem much older and more mature than they should be but that issue was not present in this novel.

Messenger did an amazing job at keeping her characters true to their ages, and although Sophie may seem very mature for her age at times, at other times she’s your average twelve/thirteen year old who has fears and insecurities that anyone that age would have. Sure she’s got a lot of responsibility, but Sophie still finds time to play games with her friends and just run around goofing off like any kid. She has a crush just like your average twelve/thirteen year old might have, though she doesn’t realize it. In fact, true to the age she’s supposed to be, Sophie goes out of her way to deny it to her friends. She doesn’t think she does, so she couldn’t possibly… right?

I can’t wait to continue on in the series and read more about the crew and how they’re going to handle everything that’s been thrown their way.



*Spoilers ahead*

Before I get into the specifics of the story itself, I’d just like to say how great a job Messenger did at creating this world. It’s obvious that Messenger put a lot of work into creating a complex world and working all of the different elements into a cohesive whole. Even things as “basic” as figuring out a way to get into and out of Atlantis was well thought out, let alone the Light Leaping technology and systems and how complex yet easy to understand they are. I can’t wait to explore more of this world throughout the rest of the series.

While it should come as no surprise, as she’s the main character and thus we spend the most time with her as readers, Sophie is my favourite character of this series. Messenger has made her a complex character filled with plenty of skills and faults. I love that Sophie is able to communicate with animals and does so only to help them out. She doesn’t take advantage of this power at all, even though I can imagine how easy it would be to do so. Sophie has an amazingly strong set of morals and only chooses to act when she believes it’s the right thing to do. Sure she slipped up one time and read her teacher’s mind in order to study for her midterm but she regretted it right away and came clean instead of cheating to get a decent mark. No child is going to be perfect but Sophie works extremely hard to be the best that she can be.

On top of all of that, Sophie made the toughest decision of all time when she chose to remove her existence from her family’s minds. What normal twelve year old would be mature enough to make this decision? To take on all of the pain on their own to spare their family from the pain of thinking that their child/sibling is dead? I can’t imagine the ache that left in Sophie’s heart, but she was willing to do it to save her family from that very agony.

Heck, when Sophie gets kidnapped she makes sure that her best friend, Dex, is safe even though it almost costs Sophie her own life. Not only does she force her rescuer to go back to get Dex, when she’s Leaping with him she throws all of her concentration at keeping him whole even if it results in her fading. Some might say that Sophie is loyal to a fault, but I counter that by saying Sophie knows who’s important to her and will do anything it takes to ensure their safety. I hope that everyone is able to find a friend like Sophie throughout their lifetime.

And can I just say I enjoyed how accident prone Sophie is? I’m not saying that I hope she gets injured more throughout the series, because that would just be mean, but I can honestly say that I relate to this. It’s not like Sophie goes out of her way to do dangerous things, they just kind of happen to her. She thought that she needed to whip her assignment in Alchemy and look how that turned out! (But really, who would know what WHAP means without being told?)

I also appreciate that Sophie will go to almost any length to keep her word. It was extremely hard for her to disobey her guardians’ wishes even though they had just withdrawn from trying to adopt her and that doing so was to ensure that human lives would be saved. Sure the elves have been ordered not to interfere with humans but Sophie couldn’t just sit by and watch them die when she could do something to stop it.

Sophie does what she can to keep her telepathy a secret from the rest of society, even her best friend. I can’t imagine that this was an easy thing to do, but it does show how series Sophie is about keeping her word. She promised Alden that she’d keep her powers a secret so that’s what she did until she couldn’t anymore.

Speaking of her telepathy, I found it really cute that Sophie and Fitz were able to create a telepathic bond. Sophie’s powers are strongest when she’s trying to communicate or locate Fitz (and yes I believe it’s because she has a crush on him but that’s not the only reason. He was her first real friend and showed her that she’s normal even though she always felt like the outsider) and by the end of the book Fitz is able to break through Sophie’s impenetrable mind to communicate with her. Sure he’s still not able to read her mind, which is probably for the best as Sophie’s mind seems to be a mess of hidden messages and powers she hasn’t had activated yet, but being able to communicate with her is a giant leap forward. And being able to communicate with her this way is what ended up saving Sophie’s life. Fitz was able to tell her that he was there and she was safe now even though her consciousness was trying to fade. He pulled her back from the brink and got her to hold on while Elwin used his “magic” (it’s medicine, I know. But it’s more fun to call it magic) to make Sophie healthy again.

Outside of Sophie and Fitz, I really enjoyed the interactions that Dex had with the rest of the cast. It’s obvious that he doesn’t like Fitz or Biana, but he’s willing to stop complaining about them constantly to Sophie because she’s his best friend and is friends with the two of them. That doesn’t mean that he isn’t still jealous of Fitz, but it shows that Dex is a real friend by trying to put aside his jealousy for his friend. Yes, that jealousy pops back up when Dex sees that the Vackers know why Sophie’s upset and he doesn’t, but it doesn’t stop him from going to make sure that Sophie is alright when she’s so obviously upset.

Dex is a complex character because he’s very insecure about his place in society but does his best to thrive despite this. While he was smart enough to be brought to Foxfire, he doesn’t feel like he belongs with the nobility. I love that he does all he can to make Sophie feel at home and that he was able to find a true friend in her. Like I said earlier, everyone deserves a friend like Sophie. As Dex himself is a pure heart, I’m glad that he has Sophie right by his side. It sucks that he feels like he has to continuously prove his place, and that his powers (when they show up) aren’t cool enough, but I’m glad that he’s able to find a place that he belongs within Foxfire.

Speaking of people that I’m glad were able to find their place, Edaline and and Grady had a long way to go themselves. While I’m sure it’s hard to deal with death as a race that is basically immortal, I’m glad that by the end of the novel these two realized how essential Sophie had become to their lives. I’m sad that they had to go through thinking they’d lost another daughter, but I can’t say I’m upset that it finally showed them that they weren’t willing to give Sophie up. They’re able to start filling the hole that missing her family had left in Sophie and Sophie was able to help them fill (at least part of) the hole that was created by losing their daughter Jolie. These three were a perfect match for each other and I’m glad that Alden thought to place them together.

I have to admit, I’m jealous of the three of them being able to live on a farm filled with all types of animals, both magical and not. I wish my home was filled with that much love and energy!

Della and Alden would have been a good second place home for Sophie, but it wouldn’t give her the same love and understanding that living with Edaline and Grady will give Sophie. On top of that, Alden treats Sophie like more of a child than Edaline and Grady do most of the time. Edaline and Grady understand that Sophie is smart and mature enough to make her own decisions about certain things, and are willing to listen to her opinion (most of the time) whereas Alden does his best to keep things from Sophie. I don’t imagine that living in a place where your guardian decides what you can and can’t handle would be a good fit for Sophie. Even the difference that Sophie feels when having serious conversations with them is obvious. Sophie feels claustrophobic when sitting in Alden’s study but she’s fine with having serious conversations with Grady and Edaline. Sure, these conversations don’t happen in Edaline and Grady’s studies, but that just shows they’re more open with Sophie and understand where she’d feel most comfortable when having serious conversations.

Finally, I want to touch on the war between the Black Swan and the other secret organization. I love the fact that Sophie’s neighbour in the human world is the reason that she was safe for so many years and that she was able to unlock any of her powers. Sure he caused her telepathy to be unlocked at an early age, but Mr. Forkle went above and beyond to further unlock powers in Sophie so that she might be able to escape her kidnappers and save both Dex’s and her lives. I can’t wait to see how Mr. Forkle and the rest of the Black Swan organization play a role in the series.

I honestly believe that the Black Swan isn’t an evil organization like elven society believes. While I can see why they’re hiding from the ruling powers, I don’t think that they’re actually trying to harm elven society. If anything, I think that they’re around to help humans in secret, even though it’s against elven law.

On the other hand, I really do believe that this second secret organization is the evil organization. They’re obviously trying to get rid of the human race, probably because they don’t think that humans are worth saving. Not only are these people willing to kidnap and fake the deaths of children (and then kill them when they’re no longer useful), they have no qualms with torturing people to get the answers they’re looking for. I know we haven’t seen the last of these guys.

Oh, and screw Bronte.



Other reviews for the series:

  1. Exile (Book 2)
  2. Everblaze (Book 3)
  3. Neverseen (Book 4)
  4. Lodestar (Book 5)
  5. Nightfall (Book 6)
  6. Flashback (Book 7)

9 thoughts on “Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger

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