Exile (Keeper of the Lost Cities #2)

Title: Exile

Author: Shannon Messenger

Series: Keeper of the Lost Cities #2

Things haven’t been the same ever since Sophie came back from being kidnapped and nearly killed. She’s dealing with the memories. The fact that she can’t go anywhere without a bodyguard. The weird way light gives her headaches, and trying to light step leaves her faded. She has an alicorn to rehabilitate and classes to take and a new family life to adjust to . . . but also the mystery of the Black Swan, the rebellion no one talks about, and the possible existence of multiple factions. Normal elves are scared. But Sophie is determined to find the answers, no matter what . . .

This book twisted away in some unexpected directions. Sophie remains a compelling heroine, and her flaws are ever more present. She’s not sure what to do about her new weakness, so she does what she usually has—keeps her mouth shut. Only this time that decision might have cost her someone very dear to her.

I was fond of how the alicorn ended up being more of an annoyance than a magical, mysterious, beautiful horse. And how Keefe not only calls it Glitter Butt but the alicorn seems to approve of the nickname. Or maybe she’s just fallen for Keefe and not Sophie. Either way, the alicorn causes not only much of the drama but much of the humor.

I was sad that Keefe had so much of a chance to take center stage. Not because I disliked Keefe, but because Dex, Fitz, Biona and the others I liked so much from the last book were much less present. Keefe himself is a lot of fun, and a welcome levity to some really serious situations. I do think Dex and Keefe could have a great thing going (much to the horror of the school administration) if Keefe succeeds in wheedling Dex over to his side . . . In a similar vein, it felt like fewer adults had a chance to participate, but the ones that do, particularly Alden, had a lot more punch. And Bronte managed to surprise me (it will be interesting to see if he maintains that shred of sympathy or if he turns back into a total curmudgeon).

All in all this is a strong followup to the first book. Darker, certainly. Now we’re dealing with PTSD, loss, grief, and brokenness. And the hints about the Black Swan, the rebellion, and how this utopian society is starting to crumble are still vague and mostly formless. There simply isn’t enough information to even guess what might be going on (though there are characters I’ll be watching to see if my suspicions hold true). I rate this book Recommended.

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