Keeper of the Lost Cities

by Shannon Messenger
ages: 10+
First sentence: “Blurry, fractured memories swam through Sophie’s mind, but she couldn’t piece them together.”
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A young boy girl is raised among humans, never knowing that he’s she’s not one of them. He She manifests some special abilities, but mostly what he she does is lay low, living with his her family, knowing somehow that he’s she’s different than they are. Then on his eleventh birthday a school field trip soon after she turns twelve, he she is found by an emissary of the different world, gaining a glimpse into his her real future: that of the wizards elves. As he’s she’s introduced to this world by a soon-to-become good friend, he she learns that his place in the world is a unique one: that of the Chosen One Keeper. (Possibly; it’s not really clear.) He She is sent off to Hogwarts Foxfire, the wizard boarding school elf nobility school, where he she makes friends, endears himself herself to some teacher and offends others, shows incredible abilities in certain areas, gains a mentor, and ends up breaking a lot of rules. He She succeeds in thwarting the evil that he she faces in the end, but it’s only a temporary fix. How can he she, a mere boy girl, save this world?

If you haven’t figured it out by now, my main problem with this one — that I started with high hopes: a separate world with elves! Cool! (And, no, that’s not a train on the cover. I thought it was) — was, that by about halfway through, I realized it was Too Much Harry Potter Knockoff, and not enough cool elves doing cool, unique, elvy things. I thought that Messenger had a cool idea for the world, but in the end, just wasn’t able to pull it off as well as I’d hoped.

That, and  I realized that halfway through, at 488 pages, this was Much Too Long. All of which makes me kind of sad.

(Just for the record: because this is a Cybils nominee, I’ve been asked to make sure y’all know this is my opinion only, and not that of the panel.)

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