by Shannon Messenger
ages: 9+
First sentence: “Sophie’s hands shook as she lifted the tiny green bottle.”
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Others in the series: Keeper of the Lost Cities
Review copy snagged off the review shelves at my place of employment.

First off: kids like this series. So, take everything I say about it with a HUGE grain of (adult) salt. Also: spoilers for the first one. Obviously.

Sophie is still living with the elves. She’s still multitalented, which many of her age-mates find annoying. She’s still trying to get used to living with her adopted family. And she’s still trying to figure out who the Black Swan are, and why they created her.

It’s a lot for a 12-year-old to handle.

Especially since she found a rare alicorn — part unicorn, part Pegasus — in the woods and brought it home. It could “reset the timeline” (no, I have no idea what that means), and so Sophie’s been given charge (reluctantly) by the Council to tame and train the alicorn. Which, of course, she forms a bond with.

Much like the first one, this one was TOO long. Sure, there was a lot of white space and the text is big, but at 570 pages, I was exhausted before I was halfway through. And, much like the last one, I feel like Messenger has a good story in here. This time, though, she needed an EDITOR to hack her stuff down to 250 pages. (Especially all of Sophie’s anxiety moments. ENOUGH ALREADY.) I did like some of the characters — Keefe, especially– and I thought Messenger tied up the story nicely while leaving some threads for the next book.

(Can I hope for that one to be shorter??)

But, as I said at the first, kids do seem to like this series. It’s good for those who aren’t old enough for Harry Potter or want more like that. But it’s just not doing it for me.

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