Saturday, March 13, 2021


by Shannon Messenger
Recommended Ages: 12+

In this sequel to Keeper of the Lost Cities, Sophie Foster moves into her second year, or rather her first full year, as a student (confusingly enough, a third-year student) at a school for up and coming elves in a world hidden from human eyes. In case you're tuning in late, Sophie was raised among humans until recently, and has only recently discovered where she truly belongs – although some would challenge whether she belongs there, considering that she was genetically engineered by a secretive, dissident group called the Black Swan for reasons no one quite trusts or understands. She has more than her fair share of elven super-powers, including telepathy combined with a mind impenetrable to (most) other telepaths, an ability called inflicting (mostly used to inflict pain on other people), a gift for languages, and possibly more talents yet to emerge. She also gets into more than her fair share of scrapes, including a recent kidnapping ordeal from which she returned to find other people frightened by the danger she represents. And now she finds herself at the center of a new storm of controversy when she forms a mental bond with a creature of incredible rarity, known as an alicorn.

At least figuratively speaking, Sophie is under the gun this year, challenged with taming the super-stubborn winged, sparkly horse in time for an important celebration, while also needing to learn more about memories that have been erased from her mind, and possibly other ways she may be malfunctioning or broken. There's a lot on the line: like the sanity of someone very near and dear to her and a couple of her closest friendships. But the path between Sophie and the information she needs is fraught with deadly peril for her, for the alicorn and for at least one of her closest friends.

This young adult fantasy world is full of attractive scenery, colorful characters and the appeal of an unusual concept of magic, leading to unique complications in the heroine's life. If I were to find fault in it, I would point out that the characters go perhaps a bit over the top emotionally, and my goodness, are these elves psychologically fragile for beings who are supposed to be superior to humans! Also, anyone expecting the series to hew to the "Harry Potter" format of one book per school year may struggle with the fact that it takes two-thirds of the book for Sophie's second (or third?) year at Everblaze to begin, and it ends only a couple of weeks into the term. This could mean the whole series covers a relatively brief but eventful period of time – or that it's really going to be a long one. Nevertheless, it's enjoyable enough that I plan to explore it further.

This is the second of eight "Keeper of the Lost Cities" novels by the author of the "Sky Fall" trilogy. Subsequent titles in this series include Everblaze, Neverseen, Lodestar, Nightfall, Flashback and Legacy, plus a short story called Unlocked.

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