Book Review on Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger

Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade/Young Adult

Hardcover: 496 pages


Twelve-year-old Sophie Foster has a secret. She’s a Telepath–someone who hears the thoughts of everyone around her. It’s a talent she’s never known how to explain.

Everything changes the day she meets Fitz, a mysterious boy who appears out of nowhere and also reads minds. She discovers there’s somewhere she does belong, and that staying with her family will put her in grave danger. In a blink of an eye, Sophie is forced to leave behind everything and start a new life in a place that is vastly different from anything she has ever known.

Sophie has new rules to learn and new skills to master, and not everyone is thrilled that she has come "home." There are secrets buried deep in Sophie’s memory–secrets about who she really is and why she was hidden among humans–that other people desperately want. Would even kill her.

I give this story 4 stars

I’ve been following Shannon Messenger for a while now and remember when she was going through edits with this book and how hard she worked on it. I think her hard work has paid off, and she’s a delightful author to follow.

Twelve-year-old Sophie Foster is a wonderful character. When she was five, she had hit her head which somehow triggered her telepathic abilities. She now can hear people’s thoughts; however, she never tells anybody about it, and she silently suffers through all the noises in her head and the migraines it produces.

Sophie is a prodigy, and although she’s only twelve, she has advanced to the twelfth grade to the dismay of some of her senior classmates.

The story begins with Sophie on a class field trip at a museum. She notices a strikingly good-looking boy with dark hair and startling blue eyes, staring at her. His name is Fitz. He’s a Telepath like Sophie, and he tells her she’s not human–she’s an elf like him. Of course she laughs in his face, and she says, "Fine. I’m an elf. Am I supposed to help Frodo destroy the ring and save Middle-earth? Or do I have to make toys in the North Pole?" Shannon made me chuckle when I read that line.

Anyway, Fitz pulls out his pathfinder–a silver wand with a small, round crystal on its tip–and convinces her to go with him. Sophie is whisked away to another realm. Shannon did a marvelous job creating a world with crystal castles, snow-capped mountains, lush green valleys and people with abilities us as humans would consider magic.

Sophie and Fitz land in Lumenari, which is one of the lost cities. It’s where all the worlds come together: gnomes, dwarves, ogres, goblins, trolls. Fitz explains to her about the government structure, cast system, and generally how everything works in the lost cities. I thought the whole set-up was awesome, and it made me want to live there. Maybe because money has nothing to do with social rank. Everybody has a fine house. Their world is based on talent, and there’s a city designed for the type of work they do.

I thought this was a good book, but what bothered me about it was I thought Shannon was channeling Harry Potter’s world a bit. For example, Sophie is taken to a working-class city called Mysterium, to get some medicine. The town reminded me of Diagon Alley. Especially, when Sophie enters a shop called "SLURPS AND BURPS: YOUR MERRY APOTHECARY." However, she did meet Dex there, and he’s one of my favorite characters.

Another example is when Sophie had to lick a silver strip on her locker which uses her DNA to open it. The strip has a flavor that each faculty member choices, and it reminded me of Bertie Botts. And honestly, if this story had continued mirroring Harry Potter’s world, I would have stopped reading it.

Thank god it didn’t.

So to sum the story up before this review becomes a book itself, Sophie is a prodigy. She has gifts that were stored into her memory but nobody knows by whom. This tale shows how she’s adjusting to her new world and discovering who she really is. It doesn’t answer who her real parents are or who created her and why? I guess we’ll have to wait for the next book to find out, which I’ll definitely be reading when it comes out.

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