Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Great characters, laughs, advances story
Cons: Pacing off, especially early on
The Bottom Line:
Sophie's next chapter
Pacing off but still has twists
Laughs, great characters
Will a Flashback advance the Neverseen's Plans?
When you buy an 850-page book, you need to plan when to fit it into your reading schedule. The week before Christmas was looking very open to me, so that's when I decided to work Flashback into my reading schedule. I'm surprised I was able to wait that long since the Keeper of the Lost Cities books always call to me as soon as they are released.
If you haven't discovered this series yet, it is a middle grade fantasy series. The main character is Sophie Foster, an elf who was raised by humans until she found out the truth about herself and went to live with the elves. However, she has quickly learned that there are forces out to destroy her new world and enslave her old world, and she has a place in saving both of them.
And yes, I'm being extremely vague in my series description. If you haven't read this series yet, DON'T START HERE. Seriously. There are so many plot threads and characters that if you jump in here, you will be lost. Yes, author Shannon Messenger does a good job of reminding us what has come before, but it won't be enough if you are new to the world. Fortunately, these books are great, and you'll enjoy every twist along the way. This also means I will be mentioning spoilers for previous books in the series with my plot teaser for this book. It can't be helped. So if you want to read the series spoiler free, go see my review of the first book to find out why you should read the series and then start reading it.
As this book opens, Alvar's sentencing for his betrayal is about to happen. The entire Vacker family has assembled in Tribunal Hall, and Sophie and Keefe have been invited to be there as well. It becomes clear why when the sentence is read, and Alvar is sent to live with his parents and siblings, Sophie's friends Fitz and Biana. Both of Sophie's friends, but Fitz especially, don't trust their older brother and suspect a trick of some sort.
But before Alvar's dwelling is even ready for him, Fitz and Sophie are attacked by the Neverseen, barely escaping with their lives. As they spend time in recovering, they begin to wonder what their attack means in the group's long term plans. Can they figure it out?
If you think this book is going to spend a lot of time in the past, you will be disappointed. Yes, memories do play a part in some of the action here, but a very small part. Flashback does have a specific meaning in this book, and I will leave it for you to figure out.
I've been impressed with the pacing of the last couple of books in the series. Despite the length, I've felt like the pages weren't wasted. Here, I did feel the pacing was off early in the book. It definitely got better as the book went along, and the climax was gripping and page turning as always.
And this isn't to say we don't get quite a few developments over the course of the book. Fans will be very happy about several things that happen here, we learn a bit more about some things I suspect will come into play in future books, and we get a couple of nasty cliffhangers. Yes, I'm ready to read the next book already, although it won't be out for a while yet.
As always, the characters are great. There is a large cast, and some play larger parts than others, but they all get a few moments to shine. I think this might be the funniest book in a while; I was certainly laughing quite a bit as I read it. Much of the humor comes from the characters and their interactions, and I just loved it.
While I do think the book could have been shorter, fans of the series will still be delighted to read Flashback. It is well worth blocking off the time it will take to read the entire thing.
Missing some of Sophie's adventures? Here are the rest of the Keeper of the Lost Cities books.
This review is part of this week's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday.