Keeper of the Lost Cities: Unlocked by Shannon Messenger

Keeper of the Lost Cities: Unlocked

Shannon Messenger, Author

Aladdin, Fiction, Nov. 17, 2020

Suitable for ages: 8-12

Themes: Fantasy, Comprehensive guide, Novella, Magic, Abilities, Magical Creatures, Evil, Relationships, Friendships

Book Jacket Synopsis:

Sophie Foster is regrouping — and Keefe is recovering — after the battle in Loamnore. And now, devastating discoveries threaten to destroy everything they’ve been fighting for.

Answers have never been more elusive — or more needed — and each new challenge drives deeper wedges between allies, friends, and enemies. Impossible choices lie ahead. So do necessary sacrifices — if Sophie and her friends are willing to make them.

Told through the perspectives of both Sophie and Keefe, this newest chapter in the Keeper of the Lost Cities series is packed full of hard truths, new powers and game-changing tsits — and that’s not all!

Unlocked Book 8.5 offers a comprehensive guide to the world of the Lost Cities, including never-before-seen artwork, a map of the Lost Cities, character profiles, world details, quizzes, and Iggy coloring page, and elvin recipes. Peek into the Council’s top-secret Registry files, as well as Keefe’s lengthy Foxfire disciplinary record and Sophie’s equally long medical report — and so much more!

Why I love this book:

Fans will find this book different from Shannon’s first eight novels. Unlocked actually gives readers a nice break to peer more deeply into all of the action and details of the first eight novels in greater depth. I find Unlocked a refreshing break to let my mind catch up before Shannon releases the conclusion of the series in Book 9 next fall. I’ve often wondered how she managed to keep all of the intricate details and plots straight in her mind. Unlocked will do the same for readers! The information is enlightening and fun.

The first two-thirds of the book is informational and full of secrets, profiles, information on the Council, the Black Swan and the Neverseens. There is a section on all the intelligent species, culture and their relationship with the elves.  And there are beautiful colorful illustrations of the main characters and eight significant scenes from each of the first eight books followed by a commentary of Keefe’s memories of the major events. What surprised me the most was the youthfulness of the elves — even though readers know that elves live many centuries — it still surprised me to see that the adults looked like they were in their early 20s and 30s. In my mind, Councilor Bronte is ancient — but he’s not.  My favorite illustration is of Flori under Calla’s Panakes tree.

The last third is a 200-page novella that focuses on Sophie and Keefe and is written in alternating voices. The novella picks up after the ending of Legacy, when Keefe’s mother-of-the-year, Lady Gisela, exposes him to a powerful energy with the hopes of triggering dangerous abilities within him. Actually I like this stand-alone novella and see how important it is for readers to hear directly from Keefe about what has happened to him, his fears, concerns and his decisions for the future. That is all I am going to reveal about the novella, as there are many who are reading their holiday copies of the book. I will add that the novella will make global readers eager for Book 9. You know Shannon couldn’t end the novella without one huge cliffhanger! And she did so with a big smiley face!

So while we read, Shannon is masterfully writing and plotting the finale. Unlocked has been an ambitious and important undertaking. But It sure is a handy guide for what is to come!

Resources: Visit Simon and Schuster for a free downloadable curriculum guide.

Shannon Messenger graduated from the USC School of Cinematic Arts, where she learned — among other things — that she liked watching movies much better than making them. She studied art, screenwriting, and film production, but she realized her real passion was writing stories for children. She’s the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the award-winning middle grade series Keeper of the Lost Cities, as well as the Sky Fall series for young adults. Her books have been featured on multiple state reading lists, published in numerous countries, and translated into many different languages. She lives in Southern California with an embarrassing number of cats. Visit Shannon at her website.

Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

*Reviewed from a purchased copy.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

15 thoughts on “Keeper of the Lost Cities: Unlocked by Shannon Messenger

  1. I got behind on this series (I’ve only read through book 6), which is a shame! It’s nice to know that Unlocked helps organize some of the previous events so readers can remember them—I always worry with book series that they will not remind me of what happened previously, since I don’t usually have time to reread the older books in the series. It’s also neat that this keeps up the plot momentum with a novella! Thanks for the great review!


    • You are really only two books behind. In the early books, I read them more than once so I understood the action. Then I began to read the last 100 pages of the novels to remind me of what the action was before the next book. But, I’m hooked. I think my favorite of all of the books is book 4 the Neverseen where the plague is unleashed on the gnomes and Calla sacrifices herself to become a Panakes tree.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have only read the first two books in this series. I’m not great with series that go on and on. I’m glad to see the books doing so well. I did enjoy the first two. Shannon is a terrific writer. Thanks for telling me about this one.


    • I usually read trilogies, but this series hooked me from the start. I would love to be a cell in her brain — don’t know where she comes up with such intricate plots. There is so much detail in her book — my great granddaughter loves the detail! Glad that she wrote this 8.5 book to help me put it all into perspective.


  3. I’m not much better in my reading of Shannon’s series. I’m waiting to begin book 4. I’d be further along if she hadn’t given me her MMGM duties :). I will catch up and hope to do so before the big finale next fall. I also like that 8.5 gives readers a chance to take a breather before #9 is released. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on today’s MMGM.


    • Book 4 is my favorite because of the plague that the Neverseen unleash among the gnomes. And, Calla who sacrifices herself to become a magical Panakes tree, so that the blooms can become harvested to heal the gnomes. And, there is much more. I’ve found if I read the last 100 pages of the previous book, it reminds me of what I need to know. 8.5 does allow readers to put their minds around the entire series — and you can read it rather quickly.


  4. Glad you’re still enjoying this series. I only read book 1 and there are too many in the series for me with all the other books I want to read. But I’m glad Shannon has so many fans.


    • Shannon has so many MG fans. If you attend a book signing, you’ll see tween/teen girls standing in lines outside the doors just to meet her and get their copies sign. I gave my great granddaughter the first two novels in 2018 and she binged the entire series. Now she’s 14 1/2 and she has to wait a year for the new books. But she can’t believe how Shannon keeps the details straight and she loves the fantasy world she’s created.


  5. Ahhh, I was initially put off by all the tiny details in the beginning, but after reading your review I’m going to have to take a stab at it again! Keefe is my favorite character, I think I cried a little bit after the end of Legacy. I’m realllyyy excited to see what’s going on with him!! It’ll be super nice to have all the information about the series in one place too, so I won’t have to re-read all eight books before I get to book 9! Thanks for the wonderful review!


    • I know many of her fans felt that way about the details — read what interests you. Keefe is my favorite character too. I can’t imagine what mommy-dearest has planned for Keefe and I don’t think we’ve seen the true depth of the powers she’s triggered in him. How do you feel about what Sophie did to the Neverseen storage cave? I think their game plan does have to change. Afraid to say to much. It’s fun to discuss the book with someone who’s read them all. And, I’m glad my great granddaughter is hooked. One day, I’ll sit down and read the entire series again. I did that with the Unicorn Chronicle by Bruce Coville — which mostly can be found in libraries now. Another favorite.

      Did you go to Shannon’s FB page where she’s interviewed by a guy in Australia. Her enthusiasm is cool. And, I’m not sure book 9 will be the finale.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I haven’t been on Shannon’s Facebook!! Oh my gosh, I might be in graduate school by the time the series ends haha. That just makes it all the more special though 🙂 I think I might have to skip everything and go straight to the novella. The drawings were so pretty, but also they really threw me off! I did not imagine Bo to look like that AT ALL oh my gosh! I’m really worried about Keefe, I’m guessing that it’s not unlocking a power but maybe inventing a new one??? Like installing it or something. His mom is so crazyyy!! I don’t remember what Sophie did to the storage cave 😦 Yeah, I feel like the Neverseen at this point is two factions with Vespera and then Lady Giesla so it’ll be really interesting to see how that plays out! I love discussing the books with other people who’ve read it. Your great granddaughter has good taste haha!


      • Yes, I think there will be a power play between Lady Gisela and Vespera. Yes, I am concerned about Keefe. But I think he will figure it out. Just don’t know how Shannon can wrap this up with one book. There are way too many characters. I’m glad that her editors have told her to do whatever she feels is best for the series. It if takes a 10th book, its okay. I’m sure her readers won’t mind — and I won’t mind. Hope you watch the interview.

        Liked by 1 person

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