In my continued backlog reviews, I’m focusing on the next book in Shannon Messenger’s The Keeper of The Lost Cities series. The fourth book Neverseen is also one of my favorites.
TW: Mention of torture, and murder.
Spoilers for Neverseen
After the events of the last book, Sophie and her friends are on the run from the Elvin Council and hide with the mysterious organization that helped create Sophie, The Black Swan.
Sophie and her friends don’t exactly trust The Black Swan, after all, the organization has refused to reveal who they are, and put Sophie and her friends in danger multiple times. Sophie also isn’t looking forward to working closely with her creators.
The group ends up spending some time in Florence, a human city, also known as a Forbidden City to the elves, trying to solve The Black Swan‘s clue about their hideout. On the way, they find out someone may have been following them in their journey.
But even when The Black Swan reveals their identities, things are still a mystery. However, they offer to share a memory Sophie has been trying to trigger since the second book and the two enter into a rocky alliance. Sophie does meet someone new that she trusts while staying with the Black Swan, a gnome named Calla. Sophie learns that Calla was a part of Project Moonlark, the project that helped create Sophie and Sophie finds herself becoming friends with the kind gnome.
However, the rest of The Black Swan wants the group to focus on lessons and strengthing their skills. Why? They are going to rescue Prentice from Exile, the Elvin prison where he was sent after his mind was broken. Now that Sophie can heal minds healing Prentice might just hold the answers they need to find the rebels. But Prentice isn’t the only thing the group has to worry about.
When a mysterious plague starts effecting the gnomes, residents of the Lost Cities and helpers to the elves in exchange for protection. Sophie worries that something bigger might be afoot with the orges and that it might have something to do with her reading the orge king’s mind in the last book.
But when the raid on Exile doesn’t go as plan Sophie must make a bargain that puts her and her friends in danger at the elves school for hopeless cases, Exillium. While attending she meets two mysterious elves who may hold clues about the plague, if only Sophie can get them to trust her enough to reveal them.
As the plague worsens Sophie must find the answers to save her new friend and the gnomes that live in the Lost Cities but are she and her group ready for a betrayal that hits close to home for more than one of Sophie’s friends.
This is one of my favorite books of the series because of a lot of characters I really like getting introduced, including The Black Swan’s collective. The group also gets closer and certain issues between different characters are resolved from previous books. I’d say however it is one of the sadder books of the series though I won’t say why.
Five Favorite Things:
- Calla, she’s just a great character and the bond she and Sophie share is really sweet.
- We get to see more of the group interacting with each other.
- We get to see more of one of the parents of the group.
- Two new, favorite characters are introduced.
- Sophie learns more about her past.
Overall I really enjoyed the book, it has got some mentions of physical violence, but nothing too over the top so I think it would be fine for a mature middle schooler.