Book Review: Keeper Of The Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger

How is everybody’s quarantine going? I’m lucky (depending on how you see it) and I still get to go out to work most days as I am a front line worker in a hospital, so my reading hasn’t increased so much as I’m sure a lot of other people’s has. I decided that I wanted to read some good middle grade fantasy during these testing times and so I downloaded Keeper Of The Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger on to my Kindle. This series has been on my radar since Regan from PeruseProject started reading them and she said that they were a really easy read which was just what I needed.

Sophie Foster has always been different. She excels academically to the point where she is now several years ahead in school and, since a head injury at five years old, she has been able to hear the thoughts of every one around her. Following an encounter with a strange boy that she meets on a school trip, Sophie discovers that she is in fact an elf and is taken to one of the lost cities to be educated in a special school where she will be able to hone her abilities.

The first thing to say about this book is that it is middle grade so it’s difficult to be critical towards it when it isn’t aimed at readers of my age. That being said, I did really like this book. It’s on the longer side for middle grade fantasy but it is such easy reading that it just seemed to fly by.

It’s also difficult not to draw comparisons between it and Harry Potter, as it is does take place in a magical school and also is seeming to follow the “chosen one” trope. It is, however, about elves rather than wizards, and has it’s own magic system that I haven’t seen in any other middle grade fantasy that I’ve read.

Sophie can be a little annoying as a character as she continually seems to ignore the advice given to her by adults, but if she didn’t then there wouldn’t be much of a plot to this book. And I do like the way that family is explored as she has to say goodbye to her human family and move in with her new guardians. This doesn’t always go smoothly, but I think showed a loving family in a way I’ve not really seen before.

The plot was very fast paced, which I loved as it meant that the pages turned quickly. But by the end of the book there are still a lot of unanswered questions. I guess this is to be expected as this is book one in what is already a fairly long series. One thing I will say is that I didn’t really have the desire when I put the book down to pick it back up at the first opportunity. Maybe that’s because I’m not the target demographic so it didn’t keep me quite as engaged as it may have an 11 or 12 year old, but I have read other middle grade that I just absolutely did not want to put down.

If I was rating this book without taking into consideration the fact that it’s middle grade, I would probably give this book something like a 3.5 star rating, but as it is aimed at a younger audience I gave it 4 stars. It was a really fun read and I’m excited to read more of the series, but I have definitely read other middle grade fantasy that I liked a lot better.

What sort of books have you been reaching for during the Covid-19 lockdown? Do you have any recommendations for me for middle grade fantasy? Let me know.

Hannah x

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