Sunday, October 13, 2013

Book Review: Exile by Shannon Messenger (Keeper of the Lost Cities #2)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great characters, story, and universe building
Cons: Maybe could have used a bit more reintroduction at the beginning
The Bottom Line:
Story continues
Introduces alicorn
Plenty of danger

The Black Swan Isn’t Through with Sophie

Last year, I got pulled into the world of the debut novel Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger.  This middle grade fantasy as lots of fun, so as soon as I got my hands on Exile, the sequel, I made time to read it.

In the first book, we met Sophie, an extremely intelligent girl who discovers she's not really human - she's an elf.  But of that book sets up the parallel world that the elves inhabit and why we mere mortals don’t know about it.  If you haven't read the first book, DON'T READ THIS BOOK!!!!  Not only will you be lost in knowing the world that the author has created here, but major events from the first book are spoiled here.  You could still go back and read it, but it will be a much fuller experience read in order.

So READ THE FIRST BOOK and then come enjoy this one.

As this book opens, Sophie is trying to enjoy her break from school and part of that is hunting magical creatures with Grady, her guardian, and her friend Dex.  But both of them are surprised when she makes contact with an alicorn.  These rare creatures are very important to elf society, and finding one is huge.

But Sophie can’t completely celebrate the find because The Black Swan is still leaving her messages.  What is their plan for her?  And with the kidnappers still out there, will she ever feel safe?

To be honest, even though I had read the first book, it was a year ago, and I didn't completely remember all the events and quirks of this particular universe.  It's always a hard call for the author how much of the exposition to repeat in the sequel, and in this case I felt Shannon erred by not including a bit more.  But as I got into the book, it began to come back to me, and soon I felt right at home back in Sophie's world.

The plot might appear to wander a bit as the book progresses, but trust me, it all comes together in the end and makes sense.  I know my interest never waned and I was always disappointed when I had to put it down to go on with my life.  Frankly, the world that Sophie lives in was so real that I would often find my mind dwelling there for a little while even when I was trying to get back to work.

In the first book, I found Sophie a compelling heroine, and she still is a strong main character.  She grows as a result of what happens in this book, and I can't wait to see how it plays out in the third.  The rest of the cast are equally as strong, and even when what some of the characters do frustrates you, you can completely understand where they are coming from.  That's strong characterization.

All of this is pulled together by writing that gets out of the way and pulls you into this other world.  It flows well and paints such great pictures you can easily imagine the world Sophie is living in without seeing it at all.

Exile: Keeper of the Lost Cities is a great sequel and continues the story.  Fans of the first will definitely not be disappointed and will find themselves waiting for book three.  I know I already am.

This review of part of this week's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday hosted by...wait for it...Shannon Messenger.  And no, that didn't influence by review.  In fact, I started reading her blog after falling in love with the first book.

To fully get into the world that Shannon has created, it's best to read the Keeper of the Lost Cities in order.


  1. Sounds like a good story. I am amazed as to how writers can create these imaginary worlds. Thanks for the review.

    1. Yeah, the detail and thought that does into creating a world like this always blows me away, too.