Book Review: Keeper of the Lost Cities

An exciting tale of elves, gnomes, trolls, and other creatures, this fantasy book is a great read!

Characters shown are Sophie and Dex, from left to right.

Lyra Lu, Contributor


“Whatever, my point is, none of us have been able to take Stina down, not even Princess Prettypants Biana. You’re the new variable―something none of us expected―so you’ve got to end Stina’s reign of terror. Everyone’s waiting for it.”


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Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger is a compelling tale of elves, gnomes, trolls, and just about any other mystical animal you can think about. Except dragons, as dragons have yet to appear. It’s a middle grade fantasy series that spans 8 books at the current moment and the 9th coming out the following year. Expected to be a 9 book series, I have to say, I’m going to be sad when the series goes, especially since I’ve been with it since I was at the precarious age of 8, with not a care in the world, except desperately wanting to experience magic. As a wise man (or woman) once said, “You can’t buy happiness but you can buy books, and that’s kind of the same thing.” 

Keeper of the Lost Cities is a highly fantasy orientated book, seeing as none of the characters are human, and they live not on Earth. They live in a place that humans know as Shangri-La, a fictional realm described by author James Hilton, which has become synonymous with ‘earthly paradise’. Messenger does a splendid job of world building, especially with each new place the crew ventures to. Her characters too, are layered with depth, but it may take a couple of books for that to happen. What drew me in 3rd grade was the exciting plot, and the lush world. Each page presents a new mystery, thrill, or just a few hearty chuckles. 

Admittedly her writing is nothing extraordinary, but keep in mind that the book is for the middle grade audience, and her true talent lies in her ability to invent stories. Certain books are slow, some drag on, but a majority of them have major plot twists, humorous dialogue, brilliant story, or just a peek into their not so mundane lives. The first book actually holds a strong resemblance to the Harry Potter series, which I noticed since I read that series just a few months prior. Initially, this was slightly off-putting for me, as I like unique, individual stories, but following the first book, the story diverges fully, and still continues to do so. Not to mention, they aren’t even wizards, they’re just elves with a whole bunch of varying abilities. 

Whatever you’re looking for, be it fantasy, humor, slice of life, or an adventure, this book is sure to keep you on your toes, flipping page after page until you reach the end. In fact, reading until the end won’t satisfy you either, as most of her books end off with a grand cliffhanger. Keeper of the Lost Cities is a good series to binge, as there are currently 8 beautiful books out. Happy reading!

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“Her mom’s hair was longer, her dad looked a little thinner, and Amy looked older, but it was definitely her human family. Three echoes of a life where she thought she didn’t belong. But they had loved her―which was more than she had here.”