Book review: Shannon Messenger's 'Exile' is excellent

By Tara Creel

For the Deseret News

Published: Monday, Sept. 30 2013 3:01 p.m. MDT

"EXILE: Book 2, Keeper of the Lost Cities," by Shannon Messenger, Aladdin, $17.99, 576 pages (f) (ages 8-14)

Sometimes in a series, the second book turns out to be nothing more than a setup for the third book, which results in a disappointing read. Shannon Messenger avoids that fate and writes a stunning sequel in "Exile," the second book in the Keeper of the Lost Cities series.

To be released on Oct. 1, readers return to Havenfield in "Exile" — Sophie's home in the Lost Cities with her guardians. Although Sophie has many friends and is constantly discovering new abilities, she still can't forget that her kidnappers are out there somewhere, waiting for their next chance to strike.

When Sophie finds Silveny — one of the last living alicorns — and is given the task of rehabilitating her, Sophie feels like she has the distraction she was waiting for. But then Sophie finds her abilities are breaking, and the only way for her to be fixed is to trust in the Black Swan.

Sophie must journey into danger to not only prove herself but also provide hope for her world that is losing its light.

Messenger brings back all the characters that fans of the series grew to love in the first installment, but gives them room to grow and sends secondary characters to the forefront for a turn in the spotlight.

Mysteries of earlier deaths, crimes and broken laws are explored and come closer to being solved. Sophie continues to develop relationships with her guardians, her friends and her teachers. New creatures are introduced and the Lost Cities become an even more believable place to live.

Shannon Messenger's quirky and imaginative writing moves the story along with a speed that middle readers and adults alike will appreciate. Messenger built a world full of color and vivid details that will pull the reader in and hold them there long after they are finished reading.

While Messenger's writing overcame the bleakness of a second installment, it did other things expected of a penultimate novel: finish with just enough closure to keep the reader satisfied, albeit with much anticipation, until the third book comes out.

Tara Creel is a Logan native and mother of three boys. Her email is taracreel@gmail.com.

Twitter: CreelTara

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