My Love Letter to the KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES Series by Shannon Messenger
There aren’t many book characters that I’ve grown up with along with the publishing of the series.
For a lot of people, the series that would fulfill that would be the Harry Potter series. Even though Harry Potter is the biggest series of my childhood, I started reading it just before the seventh book came out. As an elementary school student, I had already read about Harry’s experience as a sixteen-year-old. That’s a huge age gap between me as an teeny tiny child and the characters within Harry Potter — and that’s why I can’t necessarily say that I’ve grown up with the characters within the Harry Potter series.
Thus, Keeper of the Lost Cities series by Shannon Messenger has a very special place in my heart for being the first series I read that I grew up with along with the characters. It’s a little bit sad that I’ve outgrown the characters now (seriously, why are Sophie and her gang of friends aging so slowly? Is it the Elvin genes? It has to be the Elvin genes. 😆), but nevertheless, I still feel like I’m maturing and discovering more about my world as the characters in the KOTLC series are maturing as well.
And isn’t that all you can really ask for in a series? 😊
The mysteries, characters, and world-building in the KOTLC series are all memorable, yes, but that’s not even close to the reason why I am filled with excitement every year when the next book of the series comes out. Every time I glimpse the KOTLC series on my bookshelves, or open the books once again to reread, I’m filled with an enormous sense of nostalgia.
I found this series during the start of middle school. When I read the first and second books today, I’m transported back to a time when I was a different person in my wisdom, confidence, and dreams. I walked differently, talked differently, and dressed differently. I read to escape rather than appreciate the world around me, and I hadn’t written my 90,000 word book yet.
Reading the first and second books, in essence, makes me remember how far I’ve come in creating a life that I love. It’s sometimes easy for me to forget that the life I’m living now is one that I dreamed of having in the past when there’s so much that I’ve yet to accomplish, do, and experience, but reading my childhood favorites reminds me to take a step back and appreciate my present.
I found out about the existence of the Keeper of the Lost Cities series when I was in middle school. Back then, I spent hours roaming Barnes & Nobles every few weeks and left with a ridiculous amount of books each time. It was either that, or I would go to the library and check out thirty books at once. 😅 (Yes, I got stares every time. I did finish reading most — if not all — of the books I checked out though! Ah, the amount of free time I had back then… 😋)
On a shelf that featured new releases, the second book of KOTLC caught my eye — the cover was shiny and awash in my favorite color, aquamarine, and the detail of Sophie and Keefe on the cover made me pause, if only to appreciate the art.
I took the book off the shelf and read the very vague (but intriguing) synopsis of the story. I figured that Exile was the second book of a series, so I went to find the first book. I used to have this process where I would carry books around with me for at least half and hour as I walked around the bookstore so I could think about whether I really wanted to buy the books or not, but eventually I put down all the other books I had picked up and bought the first two books from the KOTLC series.
If I didn’t discover KOTLC that day in Barnes & Nobles, I think a lot of things would be different in my life.
I got my friends to read it, and suddenly we had inside jokes for every situation possible relating to the characters, places, and themes from KOTLC. I improved my skills drawing faces by looking at Jason Chan’s art (he’s the guy behind all the KOTLC covers!) and observing how to draw faces at different angles. And, of course, I had fun judging the development of the character relationships throughout this series. 😊
I’m not sure if I would be so in love with this series if I had suddenly stumbled upon it today. I love this series because of the memories of childhood fun and my love of fantasy books back then, as well as the reminder it brings for me to appreciate my present more because time passes by so quickly. My childhood has been slipping away from my fingers like sand being pulled back by waves to float in the cold and unrelenting ocean, and I won’t be a teenager for long, either.
Reading a book from the KOTLC series is like getting a glimpse into my life back when I was a young girl who knew so many things about this world… and still knew so little.
Opening one of these books is like having an explosion of childhood memories wash through my mind. This, I think when I reread the first, second, third, fourth, and fifth books, embodies a time of before.
I didn’t have this blog back then. I didn’t know how to do calculus or chemistry, or that I would be able a run a mile under seven minutes and thirty seconds. My worries and dreams in the past, as well, seemed to lie on the opposite end of the world compared to the ones I have today. College seemed like eons in the future, and despite every adult telling me that my years in middle and high school will pass by like that (accompanied with a snap of their fingers 👏), I still couldn’t grasp how quickly time would pass.
I now know that time passes by very, very quickly, and that it’s up to me to use it and enjoy the best I can.
And now, with the recent release of the sixth book of the Keeper of the Lost Cities series, Nightfall, I’m reminded of all these moments in my childhood attached to reading this series. I might be an immensely different person compared to the me who picked up Exile at Barnes & Nobles years ago, but it doesn’t mean that I can no longer enjoy this series.
I’m excited to be able to read this story with a new set of eyes, with more knowledge about the world and how relationships between people work, and see how my newly-gained education and wisdom will change my understanding of this lovable and lovely series. 😊💕
Shannon Messenger was one of the first authors I met that I absolutely adored, and I’m so happy to see the KOTLC series continue to grow. Honestly, I hope this series never ends (or go until Book #100 for a minimum length 😆), but for now, I’ll just write this love letter to the KOTLC series and excitedly read Nightfall when I’m able to get a copy of it.
(I tried to get a copy of Nightfall as soon as it came out, but I made the mistake of not pre-ordering and now it’s all sold out in bookstores!!! *sobs* 😭 I guess this will help me improve my patience?? 😇)
Before you leave,
📚 What are your childhood favorite books and series? What feelings surface when you reread one of your favorite childhood books? Have you written a love letter to your favorite book/series before? And are you a fan of KOTLC? Tell me in the comments below! 😋
To wrap this post up, here are two lovely pictures of Shannon Messenger’s signature on the front cover page for Neverseen and Lodestar! 😍😊
I love those lines she wrote along with her signature because they make total sense if you’ve read the book. 😄 Anyways, I hope you enjoyed reading this love letter to KOTLC, and have an amazing rest of your day! 🤗
This book chat is part of Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday meme. You can find her blog @ Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe, though currently the host is Greg Pattridge. His blog can be found @ Always in the Middle. Thanks for the feature!