How do I start writing about Keeper of the Lost Cities? It has become my favorite series this year and has helped with my depression over the beginning of the spring. So I can’t promise these reviews won’t be biased a bit. But I’ll try to give the most unbiased account I can of the books. The author Shannon Messenger is also doing a read-along of each book over on Instagram.
The first book of the Keeper of the Lost Cities series opens with a girl named Sophie. She’s a twelve-year-old high school senior who doesn’t fit in with her class or her family. She meets a boy who turns everything upside down one day when she’s on a school field trip to a natural history museum.
The boy Fitz, reveals that Sophie is actually an elf. Sophie is, of course, skeptical, especially when Fitz offers to prove it to her by taking her to a place he calls the Lost Cities. Sophie thinks he’s bad news and runs off only to end up using powers she didn’t know she had in the process. With a renewed trust in Fitz, she visits the Lost Cities and finds them to be more incredible than she’s ever imagined.
Soon she accepts the truth of her being an elf. She has to deal with the loss of her human family, who can’t know about her new life. The question of where she’ll stay, and mysterious questions about her past.
Sophie, it turns out is unique even for elves. These elves are more along the line of Tolkien-esque elves, beautiful, and mysterious, only they have unique abilities such as telepathy, empath, and prokinetics. Sophie’s ability turns out to be telepathy, with the addition of the fact she has an unreadable mind, so even other telepaths can’t hear what she’s thinking.
This leads to the elves’ ruling body, the Council’s distrust of her. So they set Sophie up with a trial period at their elite academy called Foxfire. There Sophie struggles to make friends and unlearn everything she thought she knew about the world.
Meanwhile, her assigned guardians Grady and Edaline Ruewen, are a reclusive couple. They haven’t been the same since they lost their daughter Jolie, sixteen years previously, and death is uncommon in the Elvin world so they don’t find many people who understand. Sophie was paired with them due to the loss of her human family and the fact the council thought they’d have a shared bond over the loss.
But Sophie is struggling to connect here too, with the Ruewen’s stuck in the past over Jolie and not sure they want to connect with Sophie.
Yet, as she stays in the Elvin world longer she begins to find friends. Fitz who rescued her begins to hang out with her, and she finds a best friend in Edaline’s sister’s son, Dex. Soon her friend group grows larger to include Fitz’s sister as well as his friend Keefe. And Grady and Edaline finally seem to be getting to the point where they want to accept her, and Sophie finds herself beginning to bond with them as well.
But even though things are going better for her things keep drawing her back to her mysterious past. A group called The Black Swan, and something called Project Moonlark, seem to come up in every investigation Sophie tries to do about herself.
Sophie even begins to receive notes from The Black Swan, telling her to take action about events going on in the human world.
As Sophie comes closer to the truth about her past someone else is trying to stop her from discovering it and is willing to go to any lengths to do so.
- Sophie is written realistically. She’s twelve at the start of the book and acts the way a twelve-year-old might act in situations she’s put in.
- The cast of characters. I love the ensemble feel from this book and especially in the later books
- The lack of diversity. It improves slightly in later books, but the whole cast in the earlier books are white save for a few side characters.
I’d recommend this book to any reluctant readers or fantasy fans. It’s a great set of epic adventure and the author is great with pacing and the larger plot.
Overall this is one of my favorite series so far this year due to the plot and my love of the ensemble cast.