Everblaze (Keeper of the Lost Cities #3)

Title: Everblaze

Author: Shannon Messenger

Series: Keeper of the Lost Cities #3

Sophie Foster’s life has been majorly unsettled. The Black Swan, a secret organization that manipulated her genes to give her powerful abilities, has been enlisting her for a while, but never telling her more of the story. And now that she has rebels to worry about as well, an already crazy life is about to get more hazardous. But Sophie isn’t a trained agent, or even an adult. She’s a thirteen year old girl just trying to stay alive. Which may be why it always goes horribly wrong . . .

I loved this. What started out as a series that could potentially go in a number of familiar and well-trod directions has veered away from some of that to blossom into a full-fledged secret war. Only Sophie’s not even sure who the sides are. Or which one she’d be on, anyway. Elf society is fragmenting around her, and since she’s been involved in most of the incidents responsible, people’s attitudes towards her is starting to change. This is much less a school story—school is something Sophie does because she’s young, and needs the education, but the focus is shifting away from classrooms to the larger world.

There aren’t a lot of new characters this time around, but we get more of Fitz and Biana, which is excellent. Still not enough Dex, though (but hints this will probably change at least a little next book). I like that Sophie’s still largely innocent of her male friends’ interest in her, and that the heart of the story is still friendship and not romance. Sophie’s relationship with her adoptive family continues to grow. It’s especially poignant here because Sophie tackles the mystery of Jolie, their natural and now deceased daughter, head on. It’s clear how much she’s helped draw them out of their grief. And I liked that Sophie is herself very aware that she might be stepping into the Jolie-shaped void in their lives. That sometimes their reactions aren’t to her but to Jolie.

Sophie continues to amaze me in other ways, too. I love how unintentionally destructive she is. This isn’t Twilight-grade “I’m so clumsy I should have died”, but a combination of severely misjudging the circumstances, people who are out to harm her, people who want her to be the focal point of trouble, abilities going out of control, etc. I have a lot of fun laughing at her antics, yet somehow she always ups the ante. The motto of this book could almost be: “Keep your friends close and your bodyguard closer.”

I did not expect the ending. It makes sense, and I love it, but wow is this going to make it hard to wait for the sequel (currently on hold from the library, so it’s coming! It’s just a question of whether I break down and order it from Amazon first). It reminds me of The Hound of Rowan in how what appeared to be a simple story about a child stepping into a magical world turns out to be truly epic. The mysteries are coming out slowly enough that readers aren’t likely to be much ahead of Sophie in trying to figure out what’s happening (was a little sad one particular friend didn’t get a resolution now, because it seemed like something important), but each book still manages to reveal major portions of the world.

I would start from the first book to get the full experience, as a lot of what’s going on in this one directly stems from what happened before, and there’s minimal recap to catch up new readers. I rate this book Highly Recommended.

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