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Literature / Keeper of the Lost Cities

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Keeper of the Lost Cities is a series of middle grade fantasy novels by Shannon Messenger.

Sophie Foster has always been different. Despite only being twelve, she's already a high school senior, thanks in no small part to her photographic memory. Even amongst family, she sticks out, being the only skinny blonde among chubby brunettes. All of this, however, pales in comparison to the secret she's kept for years: she can hear the thoughts of others and has been able to ever since a traumatic brain injury when she was five.

While this might sound useful, it's caused Sophie no small amount of grief: she can't turn this ability off and her attempts to mitigate the constant background noise make her stick out. She's too afraid to tell anyone, including her family, for fear of being turned into an experiment. So, when she comes across a strange boy whose mind she can't read and who somehow knows this, she tries to run. When the boy finds her again, he introduces himself as Fitz, explaining that he's an elvin Telepath just like her. Though skeptical at first, Sophie quickly believes him when he shows her the Lost Cities, lands inhabited by elves and other creatures from myth and fairy tales.

In the blink of an eye, Sophie's entire world is turned upside down; she leaves her human family to live with a pair of elves who become her new guardians and she's enrolled into Foxfire, an elvish school where she has to unlearn all of her human-gained knowledge while simultaneously learning how to hone her telepathic abilities. Luckily, she finds a few friends who help make the transition from her old life to her new one a little smoother: there's the handsome Fitz, his younger sister Biana, the laid-back Dex, and the mischievous Keefe.

Unfortunately, Sophie still can't quite manage to totally fit in: despite just recently learning about the very existence of elves, she somehow knows confidential information that only the ruling elves should be privy too. As life with her kind develops, Sophie will discover that not everything is peaceful in paradise and her existence may be one small piece in an ever-changing puzzle.

The series includes the following titles:

  • Keeper of the Lost Cities (2012)
  • Exile (2013)
  • Everblaze (2014)
  • Neverseen (2015)
  • Lodestar (2016)
  • Nightfall (2017)
  • Flashback (2018)
    • "The Talk": A short story from Keefe's POV that takes place shortly before the events of Flashback, and was included in paperback and ebook copies.
    • An untitled interquel short story from Fitz's POV that was included in the Barnes & Noble exclusive edition.
  • Legacy (2019)
    • A short story from Tam's POV that was included with the hardcover's first edition.
  • Unlocked (2020): A companion book that includes an untitled novella. The novella is essentially an extended epilogue to Legacy.
    • "Trust Issues": A short story from Linh's POV that takes place after the novella, and was included in paperback copies.
  • Stellarlune (2022)
  • Keeper of the Lost Cities: The Graphic Novel - Part 1 (2023): The first in a two-part graphic novel adaptation of the first novel.
  • A tenth novel that will conclude the series

In January 2021, it was confirmed that a film adaptation was in development, with Ben Affleck set to direct and co-write.

This series includes examples of:

  • Abusive Parents:
    • The Sencens are explicitly stated (and shown) to be verbally and emotionally abusive. Additionally, Gisela uses knowledge about her son's hatred of her, as well as who he cares about, in order to manipulate him into doing her bidding.
    • Quan and Mai Song cared so much about their public image that they abandoned their daughter Linh as soon as she became a inconvience to them, and let her be exiled over something she couldn't control.
  • Accidental Misnaming: In the first book, Sophie introduces Dex to Fitz and Fitz soon forgets it, calling him "Deck" as he leaves Slurps and Burps.
  • Action Mom:
    • In Neverseen, Della Vacker uses her Vanishing ability to stow away and join the Black Swan, where she naturally kicks ass.
    • Edaline Ruewen and her sister, Juline Dizznee, using their Conjuring and Frosting abilities respectively to effortlessly manhandle Ro, an ogre princess famous for her fighting abilities. Much like Della, Edaline's abilities probably come from the fact that she used to work for the Council alongside her husband as a noble. Edaline also has the added bonus of surprising strength thanks to her years of wrangling unruly animals for rehabilitation. Juline's abilities are likely a result of being a member of the Black Swan.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: In Flashback, when Sophie tells Keefe about Silveny being stubborn and evasive, he points out that that sounds a lot like Sophie herself. Sophie can't deny this claim.
    "Still being weirdly stubborn," Sophie corrected. "I'm worried she's hiding something. But I'm hoping I can wear her down."
    Keefe laughed. "Sounds like what I'm always saying about you."
    "Oh, that was a good one!" Ro said, raising her hand for a high five.
    "It was," Sophie had to admit.
  • Aerith and Bob: Justified. Sophie was born to a human family and given a human name as a result.
  • The Ageless: Elves deem their lifespan as infinite because none of them have died from old age. They can still die through a number of other means, though.
  • All Trolls Are Different: Trolls go through seven life stages. As newborns, they are physically strong but mentally weak, and as they progress through subsequent stages, their strength decreases and their mental facilities increase. Stage Four Trolls like Tarina are considered to have the best balance of physical strength and mental capabilities.
  • Almost Kiss: On two separate occasions, Sophie and Fitz are about to kiss but are interupted before their lips can touch.
  • Alternate-History Dinosaur Survival: Part of the Masquerade is that dinosaurs and other seemingly extinct animals never actually went extinct; instead, they are under the care of the elves, who keep their existence secret from humanity.
  • Amicable Exes: Alden and Alina dated for a bit before Alden fell in love with and married Della. Alina initially tried to break up the wedding, but eventually came to terms with Alden's choice. By the time Sophie enters the picture, Alina and Alden have restored whatever friendship they had.
  • Amnesiacs are Innocent: The Council decides they cannot punish Alvar for his involvement with the Neverseen because all his memories have been wiped.
  • And Here He Comes Now: In Nightfall, Physic arrives at Choralmere just as Mai is asking about her.
    "How long do you think it'll be before your physician arrives?" Mai whispered.
    A knock rang through the house in answer.
  • Angst Coma: Elven minds break from guilt which can sometimes induce a death-like coma.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Dex's younger siblings, Lex, Bex, and Rex, have a penchant for embarrassing him in front of his friends.
    All three of them screeched to a halt when they noticed Sophie, Fitz, and Biana.
    "You'll have to excuse our daughter," Kesler said, glaring at Bex. "She's developed a gift for figuring out the most embarrassing thing she can possibly say and then saying it. We're working on it."
  • Antagonist Title: Book 4, Neverseen, is titled after the faction of the same name who serve as the series' main villains.
  • Archnemesis Dad:
    • Keefe and his dad, Lord Cassius. Lord Cassius was a cold, unfeeling father - could almost be classified as abusive - and he and Keefe never got along very well. One memorable moment is when Lord Cassius discovered that Keefe had been drawing in his school notebook, and in his anger, he ripped all the drawings to shreds.
    • Tam and his father. Tam expresses great bitterness toward his father and obviously hated him when they still lived together.
      Tam: I melted down the chain [of my registry pendant] after I ripped off the crystal and threw it in my father’s face. Now if I ever face him again, he’ll see exactly how little I miss living in his glittering prison.
  • Armor-Piercing Response: In chapter 38 of Legacy, Cassius claims in a response to Keefe that Keefe was always afraid of his mother. Keefe is dismissive of the claim, but Cassius lays out how Keefe was afraid of losing what little love he thought he had. Keefe is temporarily silent at the uncomfortable truth.
    Keefe snorted. "I wasn't afraid of her. […]"
    "You were terrified," Lord Cassius insisted. "Because she gave you just enough love to show you how wonderful it could be if she truly cared for you—and then casually withheld the rest, leaving you wondering where you went wrong, and trying to figure out how to fix it, and being constantly afraid that you'd lose what little you had."
    A beat of painful silence passed as Keefe shifted uncomfortably in his chair.
  • Arranged Marriage: Ro and Bo were put in an arranged marriage so that they don't have to face each other in a fight to the death once King Dimitar dies.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In Neverseen, when a character is describing how humans twisted the elves' gifts to them, they say humans "twisted them into weapons, or bargaining chips for their political agendas, or soggy, chemical-filled Twinkies."
  • Asskicking Leads to Leadership: The ogre ruler is chosen by victory in battle. Any willing candidates spar to the death, and whoever is left standing becomes king or queen.
  • Awkward Kiss: In Nightfall, Sophie and Dex share a very awkward kiss with a lot of bumping into each other, which helps them both conclude that they're better off as friends.
  • Battle Amongst the Flames: The climactic battle in Neverseen takes place inside a ring of fire.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness:
    • The elves are all supremely beautiful and are presented as one of the most peaceful species, though this is played with as its shown that their society has its own flaws and prejudices.
    • The Vackers are heroic and described as exceptionally beautiful even amongst the elves. In Flashback, it's stated that Alvar- who had been working with the villains- had never been as effortlessly attractive as his younger siblings.
  • The Bet: Keefe and Ro have three bets throughout Flashback. The first two, overlapping with Humiliating Wager, are respectively about how long the Tribunal will take, and whether Sophie will succeed at a certain telekinetic move. The third is about whether Sophie can get Ro and Bo's story out of Bo before Keefe comes to Havenfield, with the winner getting one guaranteed dare over the loser. Keefe ends up losing by coming to Havenfield. By the end of the novel, Ro has yet to cash in the dare, though she seems to consider using it to make Keefe confess his feelings to Sophie. She ends up cashing it in the next book, Legacy, using it to make him stay away from the Neverseen after they get a warning about them.
  • Betrayal by Offspring: In Neverseen, Alvar is revealed to be working for the Neverseen by spying on his father.
  • Big Bad: The Neverseen is a rebel group who delights in killing humans, killing gnomes, and killing traitors.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Even though they're twins, Tam is extremely protective of his sister, Linh.
  • Blindfolded Trip: In Lodestar, Sophie is blindfolded for the walk to meet Gethen, since he's being kept in a high security location.
  • Boarding School of Horrors: Exillium is a school for the "hopeless cases", that is elvin children who're Talentless, exiled, or both. The food is horrible, the medical care is subpar, and the teachers hate their job. The students aren’t allowed to speak to each other or even give out their names, and they have to hide their faces behind masks. Their "ticket" to the next day's class is a bead that gives you an electrical shock when you touch it, and beads have to be earned through your efforts. This all changes after a few choice words from Sophie to Councillor Terik.
  • Brain Bleach: Sophie expresses strong disgust when she sees Silveny and Greyfell having sex.
  • Broke the Rating Scale: In Unlocked, the "seriousness" rating for the Great Gulon Incident is 11 out of 10, and the damage to the glass pyramid (which occurred in Lodestar) gets a 20 out of 10.
  • Bystander Syndrome: Since the elves have such long lifespans, they tend to ignore addressing any immediate, low-stakes problems (such as fixing the matchmaking system), instead focusing on long-term issues.
  • Casanova Wannabe: One of Dex's younger brothers, Lex, tries to act like a young ladies' man, only for his father to block him and give him a talking-to.
    "He's just jealous," the boy told Biana. "He knows the ladies like me better."
    "Okay," Kesler said, grabbing the boy's arm before he could wrap it around Biana's waist. "Looks like we need to have another talk about appropriate behavior around girls, Lex. Rule number one- we do not touch them without their permission."
  • Change the Uncomfortable Subject: In Everblaze, when Sophie's friends are talking about how they manifested their special abilities and turn to her, she quickly changes the subject, since her awakenings were traumatic.
  • Chekhov's Gun: When Sophie interrogates Gethen in Lumenaria, there is an unobtainable sword in his cell signifying that prisoners can't do anything. When Fintan, Brant, Gethen, and Alvar destroy the castle with outward channeling, the swords breaks free and Gethen uses it to kill Mr Forkle.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • Sophie's human family doesn't seem to have much plot importance once Sophie begins living in the Lost Cities. They're never completely out of the picture, but that's mostly to remind the audience of Sophie's former life. Then Nightfall opens with Sophie reuniting with Amy who explains that their parents were kidnapped by the Neverseen. Sophie's rescue of her parents winds up revealing one of the Lost Cities darkest secrets: the real reason behind Atlantis' sinking.
    • The way Marella is introduced in the first book makes it seem like she'll become a permant part of Sophie's friend group, but that doesn't seem that'll be the case come Exile. Marella comes back into the fold in Nightfall when she has Mr. Forkle try to trigger her abilities in one last ditch attempt to manifest. Turns out, she's a Pyrokentic. This ends up being a boon when she eventually becomes Fintan's pupil, putting her in the unique position to elicit information from the former Neverseen member.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Jolie met Brant when she was six. They became instant best friends and eventually fell in love with each other, becoming a couple.
  • Childish Tooth Gap: Dex's younger brother, Rex, has a missing front tooth, accenting his youthful exuberance and mischevious behavior.
  • Child Prodigy:
    • Sophie's photographic memory helped her skip mutliptle grades when she was living amongst humans. She even managed to snag a spot into Yale despite being only twelve.
    • Keefe is the only elf we know of who skipped a level at Foxfire, thanks in no small part to his Photographic Memory, which also allows him to skip classes and not fail his exams.
  • The Chosen One: Sophie, the one and only “Project Moonlark”. She was meant to grow up amongst humans and provide a new outlook for the elves, who have been philosophically stagnant for thousands of years. Subverted because she was literally genetically engineered for this purpose while the usual recipients of this trope usually are because of a prophecy or supernatural ancestry.
  • City of Gold: The goblins live in cities made almost entirely of gold.
  • Cliffhanger: Starting with the third book, the book will end with some sort of cliffhanger:
    • Everblaze ends with Sophie and her friends announcing their intent to join the Black Swan.
    • Lodestar ends with Sophie meeting her sister, who recognizes her despite having her memory wiped.
    • Nightfall ends with Alvar waking up and not knowing who he is.
    • Flashback ends with Sophie learning that she's unmatchable thanks to her unknown biological parents.
    • Legacy ends with Keefe in a coma right after his mom triggered his other ability.
    • The Unlocked novella ends with Keefe leaving for the Forbideen Cities, and confessing his feelings for Sophie to her via a farewell letter.
    • Stellarlune ends with Elysian being proved to be a person not a place like they'd assumed.
  • Clockwork Creature: Tinker's home has clockwork animals of her own design walking around.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Sophie and Dex were kidnapped, tortured, and burned by the Neverseen for information about the Black Swan. The fact that both of them are twelve years old (by human count, anyway) doesn't make their torturers go anymore easy on them.
  • Commonality Connection: Keefe and Fitz became friends because they were fellow outsiders no one else wanted to hang out with. Keefe was "the weird kid who'd just skipped a grade", and Fitz was always disappearing to go on secret missions for his dad.
  • Conflicting Loyalty: Jolie worked undercover for the Black Swan by infiltrating the Neverseen, but after she fell in love with Brant- who was with the Neverseen- she felt her loyalties shifting.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: In Flashback, Leto warns Keefe- who is currently skipping his elvin history session- that he can become very creative with his punishments. When Keefe expresses curiosity, Ro shuts him down since, as his bodyguard, she has to be there for his punishments, too. Leto- knowing about Ro's dislike of elvin history lectures- agrees and tells her that he found "an entire room filled with recordings of speeches from the Ancient Councillors that I think you'll find particularly enjoyable." Ro promptly starts dragging Keefe back to his session.
  • *Cough* Snark *Cough*: In Legacy, King Enki gives a dismissive, backhanded reply to Sophie when she asks about his crown. This leads Ro to cough something that sounds like "awfully smug for a tiny hairless dude".
  • Covert Distress Code: "Swan song" is the Black Swan's code word for a last resort.
  • Cry into Chest:
    • Sophie cries into Fitz's shoulder in the first book as she leaves her human family behind.
    • Keefe cries into Sophie’s shoulder in Neverseen.
  • Cute Clumsy Girl: Sophie often trips over her feet even just by simply walking from one place or another, usually for comedic effect. When things get dangerous, she becomes significantly less klutzy.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Elvin society has its own flaws, such as prejudice against the Talentless, multiple births (e.g. twins and triplets), certain Talents such as Shades and Pyrokinetics, and couples deemed a bad match. Most members of the Black Swan and the Neverseen were subjected to this kind of discrimination and seek to do something about these prejudices (though their methods vary greatly).
  • Disney Death:
    • Sophie and Dex's kidnappers make it look like they drowned by throwing their respective registry pendents into the ocean. Beliving them dead, the elves hold a funeral.
    • In Exile, Alden's mind breaks from guilt, effectively turning him into a vegetable by elf standards. Since healing a broken mind has never been done before, he is considered technically dead. As such, a funeral is held. Fortunately, Sophie is able to heal Alden.
    • In Everblaze, Fintan seemingly dies along with Kenric, but makes a dramatic reappearance in Neverseen.
  • Ditch the Bodyguards:
    • In Exile, it's mentioned that Sophie has tried many times to ditch her bodyguard Sandor, to no avail.
    • In the Keefe short story, Keefe tries to sneak out to join Sophie but is stopped by his bodyguard Ro.
    • Biana often uses her invisibility to sneak away from her bodyguard Woltzer.
  • Domestic Abuse: In Everblaze, Sophie suspects that Lord Cassius abuses his wife, even though this accusation is proven false.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Ro hates being called by her full name, Romhilda.
  • Doorstopper: Flashback is 845 pages long, with other books aside from the first, easily reaching the 700 mark.
  • Double Agent:
    • Alvar's been secretly working for the Neverseen for years.
    • Oralie stays on Sophie's side, even when the rest of the Council is hunting her down. She even commits treason to keep Sophie out of the Council's hands.
  • Double Reverse Quadruple Agent: Jolie Ruewen was an elite prodigy secretly working undercover for the Black Swan by pretending to join the Neverseen but she's not sure if she's actually for the Black Swan or the Neverseen. And let’s not get Brant mixed up in this.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: In Legacy, Fitz fails to get that Sophie needs reassurance that he'd still want to be with her even if she's unmatchable. He assures her that her status doesn't matter... because they'll find her genetic parents so she can become matchable. Despite her repeatedly saying that that's not gonna happen.
    Ro sucked in air through her teeth. "Ooooooooooooo, you were sooooooooo close."
  • Dramatic Unmask: In Everblaze, one of the Neverseen members' hood comes off, revealing that the person underneath was not Lord Cassius, as previously thought, but Lady Gisela.
  • Egocentric Team Naming: In Exile, when Sophie, Fitz, Biana, and Keefe are preparing to play base quest, Keefe expresses his preference for teaming up with Sophie and her getting to use her special ability: "I vote for The Unstoppable Team Keefe! Or Team Foster-Keefe if you're one of those egomaniacs who needs your name in there. I can share some credit."
  • Embarrassing Initials: Sophie's human sister is Amy Rose Foster. In Everblaze, Sophie says she doesn't think their parents realized the initials spelled "arf" until it was too late.
  • Embarrassing Pyjamas: In Neverseen, the Black Swan give Sophie and her friends colorful furry onesies to use as pajamas while they're staying at Alluveterre in the hopes that they would be embarrassing enough to discourage them from meeting after curfew.
  • Embarrassing Tattoo: After Ro, who has expressed disdain for all things sparkly, loses a bet with Keefe in Flashback, she ends up getting a tattoo reading "Sparkles Rule!".
  • Empty Bedroom Grieving: For many years after the death of their daughter Jolie, Grady and Edaline kept her bedroom just the way she'd left it. Edaline would sometimes go into the room just to lie down in the bed.
  • Evil Gloating: In Neverseen, when Sophie and Biana run into a Neverseen member in Brackendale, Sophie tries to egg him into talking about the group's plan. However, he doesn't fall for it.
  • Evil Is Burning Hot: Fintan and Brant are both Pyrokinetics, and work for the Neverseen.
  • Evil Makes You Ugly: After Brant reveals that he's part of the Neverseen, he accures injuries such as missing an ear and a hand, and his face becomes "more scar tissue than skin".
  • Face–Heel Turn:
    • After being elected as a Councillor, Dame Alina tells Sophie she's "not afraid to make hard choices". She doesn’t go back on her word.
    • Brant suddenly turns on Sophie when she discovers he's actually evil.
  • False Reassurance: Alden's favorite phrase is "No reason to worry." Even when there are definitely many, many things to worry about.
  • False Utopia: Elvin society is introduced as having no war, No Poverty, and no crime. It's later revealed that the elves discriminate against those without any Talents and the Council has swept huge problems under the rug for centuries, which only gets worse when they punish Sophie and prosecute the Black Swan to restore the citizens' trust in them. According to one of the author's notes in Unlocked:
    […] I've always thought of the elvin world as a "Crumbling Utopia"—a place that seems idyllic at first, but the longer you linger, the more you start to see the flaws in the systems. Those flaws are where the story comes from.
  • Family Theme Naming: The Dizznee children have names that rhyme: Dex, Rex, Bex, and Lex.
  • Fantastic Nature Reserve: Elves keep a couple of every endangered species- fantastic or known to man- in the Sanctuary to protect them from human pollution and hunting. They've never let a species go extinct and protect several species human think have disappeared long ago. In order to avoid predation, carnivorous animals are exclusively fed vegetarian food that can taste like meat.
  • Fantastic Underclass: Elves without any abilities, called Talentless, are relegated to living in "working class" cities, attending the Sucky School Exillium, can only marry other Talentless or else be scorned for being a "bad match", and are generally looked down on.
  • Fatal Flaw: Guilt would qualify for all of the elves. Most of the main characters' fatal flaw is related to the way guilt manifests in them:
    • Personal loyalty gets Sophie into a lot of trouble over the course of the series. She can also be reckless, as well as indecisive.
    • Fitz has issues with anger, which causes him to lash out at others. This is deliberately exploited by the Neverseen in Flashback.
    • Keefe is extremely reckless, has low self-worth, and little regard for his own life. All three come together when he volunteers to fight King Dimitar in Sophie's place in Nightfall.
    • Tam holds onto grudges and prioritizes Linh's safety over everything else.
    • Dex has an inferiority complex and struggles with jealousy.
  • Fingore: In Neverseen, the Black Swan say they'll have to freeze off Gethen's fingernails to remove the tracker substance from them, disturbing Sophie enough to enter her nightmares. They later assure her the process was painless and that they'd only made it sound more painful to frighten Gethen.
  • Flashy Teleportation: Alicorn-style teleportation splits the air with a thunderous crack which opens a portal into the void.
  • Forgot About His Powers: In Nightfall, Sophie and her companions need to transport an unconscious Alvar. Sophie hefts his shoulders off the ground and calls for someone to get his legs, before Tam reminds her that they can just move him telekinetically.
    "You Foxfire people always forget the obvious," Tam told her, floating Alvar's body off the ground. "Remember telekinesis?"
    Sophie's cheeks burned. "Right. I guess that's smarter."
  • Full-Name Ultimatum: In the first book, when Sophie is trying to sneak out and is caught by her family, her mom calls her by her full name when demanding that she tell them what's going on.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Dex is a brilliant Technopath, able to create new inventions within a matter of days or weeks. He's talent is second only to the Black Swan's Technopath, Tinker, who's home is esentially an engineers heaven.
  • Gasshole: Sophie's pet imp, Iggy, is well known for producing very stinky burps and farts.
  • Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke: Sophie's genes were tweaked by the Black Swan in order for her to have enhanced abilities.
  • Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: In Legacy, when Sophie is lost in the hallucinations of the King's Path, Stina ends up slapping her to snap her out of it before she can accidentally inflict on everyone.
  • Get Out!: In Everblaze, after Sophie and Grady tell Brant he can be healed, he screams at them to get out because he doesn't want to be.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Silveny transmits to Sophie an image of her and Greyfell having sex, in a truly Too Much Information moment for a middle grade book series.
  • Getting Smilies Painted on Your Soul: In Everblaze, Sophie inflicts happiness on Bronte during a session with him. The results aren't pretty; he starts laughing uncontrollably, crying and becoming hysterical.
  • Girl Posse: Stina is sometimes accompanied by two other girls who are described as her minions.
  • Girls Love Stuffed Animals: Sophie has a blue stuffed elephant named Ella that she can't sleep without. Her sister, Amy, posses a stuffed rabbit that she keeps to remind her of Sophie.
  • Half-Identical Twins: Tam and Linh are brother and sister, but identical in every other way- they have the same face, eyes, and hairstyle.
  • Hands-On Approach: In the first novel, Dex puts his arms around Sophie to help her adjust a stellarscope, making her blush.
  • Hazy-Feel Turn: At the end of Neverseen, it seems like Keefe has decided to join the evil organization. He states that it's because there's no point in going against his mother's plans for him, but is he saying that for the benefit of Brant and Alvar or does he truly belive that? The following novel confirms that he was pretending so as not to give the game away before he can even play it.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In Neverseen, Calla turns herself into a Panakes tree to save the gnomish species from the plague.
  • Hiding Behind the Language Barrier: In Flashback, Tarina switches to an archaic troll dialect during her first meeting with Sophie so she can tell her some information without letting the others around them know, since Sophie's ability as a Polyglot allows her to understand the language.
  • Hope Spot: After the Downer Ending of Neverseen, it seems nothing will be okay ever again... then Prentice wakes up.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Elves aren't fond of how humans have been treating their shared home; they're often puzzled by their viciousness and lack of forward thinking in regards to enviromental health and animal life. Some even think they're beyond help and believe shoving them all into a sanctuary like the elvish Sanctuary is the best solution.
  • Humans Are Special: Although they have finite lifespans, do not have superpowers, are less beautiful and on average less intelligent, humans have one ability that has led the Neverseen to see them as a threat and an example to learn from. They are immune to guilt. Which means that unlike, they are able to commit atrocities if it means protecting themselves and their loved ones, without their mind breaking down. However the fact that ogres and goblins are warrior species and thus use violence, just like the Neverseen themselves who kill with limited mental consequences makes one skeptical about the uniqueness of this particularity granted to humans.
  • Humiliating Wager: Keefe and Ro have a couple of bets with embarrassing stakes in Flashback.
    • In the beginning of the book, they have a bet on how long the Tribunal will take. If it lasts until sunset, Ro wins, and Keefe has to wear ogre armor to school (which looks like a metal diaper) instead of his uniform. If it's done in an hour, Keefe wins, and Ro has to start calling him Lord Hunkyhair. Keefe ends up winning.
    • Later in the book, they bet on whether Sophie will be able to pull off a telekinetic move. If she can't, Ro wins and gets to shave Keefe's head. If she can, Keefe wins, and Ro has to get a tattoo reading "Sparkles Rule!". Again, Keefe wins.
  • Hypocritical Humor: In Exile, when Sophie, Fitz, Biana, and Keefe are dividing into teams for base quest and deciding to play without special abilities, Keefe comments:
    "Lame. I vote for The Unstoppable Team Keefe! Or Team Foster-Keefe if you're one of those egomaniacs who needs your name in there."
  • I Am Not My Father: Keefe is an Empath like his father, Lord Cassius, and also has several marked similarities to his mother, Lady Gisela. He doesn’t want to be like either, especially his mother after he finds out she's the Neverseen's true leader.
  • I Don't Like You And You Don't Like Me: Keefe hates Tam because he’s a pretentious bastard. Tam hates Keefe because he can't be trusted.
    Keefe: Someone needs to tell Shade Boy the role of Troublemaker with Daddy Issues is already filled.
    Tam: The only people who refuse readings are those with darkness to hide.
  • Ignoring by Singing: In Neverseen, when Sophie shares the news that Silveny is pregnant, Keefe keeps begging for everyone to stop talking about alicorn mating and birthing, eventually covering his ears and leaving the room, singing, "LALALALALA! I CAN'T HEAR YOU!"
  • Immortality Begins at Twenty: Elves stop aging once they reach adulthood. Their only sign of old age is Pointy Ears, but those don't begin occuring until their 1,000th year.
  • Implicit Prison: Alvar is put under house arrest in Flashback, and is unable to leave the Vacker's property. Dex fashions a device called The Warden to monitor Alvar's every move.
  • Inconvenient Attraction: In Neverseen, Sophie is anxious over the prospect of Fitz finding out about her crush on him and wishes she could get over it to make everything easier.
  • Informed Attribute:
    • Elves are stated to have no concept of sexism. However, they abide by gender stereotypes, to the point Keefe was mocked by other elves for braiding and generally taking care of his hair because he is a boy. Similarly, they are said to have no concept of racism and do not take race into consideration when choosing a partner. However, every black (except Livvy/Doc) or Asian character in the books is related to each other and the Song family has been Asian-coded (Sophie describes them both as anime characters and K-pop stars) for generations. Most of the couples- at least those who have children- are monoracial as well. The fact that elves even have races identifiable to humans is indicative of the dissonance between what is stated by the author and what is represented in the books, as the main reason humans have is because they tended to keep to their own race when mating in the past, which wouldn't have been the case for elves, and Elvin families should have become a blend of all races with time.
    • Telepathy is supposedly a rare Talent, but it's the most represented Talent among the cast: Sophie, Fitz, Alden, Kenric, Tiergan, Prentice, Emery, the list goes on.
  • Inhumanly Beautiful Race: Elves look a lot like humans and all of them are supermodel beautiful.
  • Innocent Blue Eyes: Elves are a peaceful species who created a society where poverty has been eradicated, know no concept of racism or sexism, and they all have blue eyes (except for Sophie, but that's mainly because she was genetically engineered).
  • It's All My Fault: Alden's mind breaks because of the guilt from helping to break Prentice's mind and leaving Wylie parentless.
  • It's Quiet… Too Quiet: In Neverseen, while walking through the forest at Brackendale, Sophie realizes what feels wrong about the place: it's far too quiet.
    That was when Sophie realized what was wrong with the forest.
    It didn't rustle.
    Or crackle.
    Or make any of the sounds trees normally made.
    Other than the roaring boobrie, the whole place seemed to be holding its breath.
  • I Will Punish Your Friend for Your Failure: The Neverseen threatened to hurt Sophie if Dex didn't give them the information they wanted.
  • Jerkass:
    • Bronte is prejudiced against Sophie for her human upbringing (in the first two and a half books at least), and really doesn’t like that he can’t Inflict pain onto her.
    • After becoming a Councillor, Dame Alina goes from supporting Sophie to being against Sophie in less than twenty-four hours.
    • The Hekses are weaseling bastards who jump on the bandwagon and insult everyone under the sun.
  • Killed Off for Real:
    • Jolie Ruewen was killed in a fire before the start of the series. Although we have never actually seen a body, Shannon Messenger has confirmed that she is truly dead.
    • Kenric was killed by Everblaze in Everblaze, leading to a Meaningful Funeral and Personal Effects Reveal. As with Jolie, we haven’t seen an actual body yet, leading to some theories of how he might have survived like Fintan, but most agree that it’s fairly certain that he is dead.
  • Kissing the Ground: In Nightfall, after Keefe gets off of a rough boat ride, he shouts, "SOLID GROUND!" and bends to kiss the rock beneath him.
  • Last-Name Basis: Keefe often calls Sophie by her last name.
  • Leaning on the Furniture: In Legacy, when Sophie and Keefe meet with Cassius in his home, Keefe makes a point of propping his feet onto Cassius' desk to show his disrespect. Sophie curls her feet up to rest them on the seat of her chair, enjoying how it bothers Cassius.
  • Let Me Get This Straight...: In Exile, Keefe summarizes the situation once he's brought on board with the new plan:
    Keefe: So, let me get this straight. We don't know where we're going, or how long it's going to take us to get there, and we're flying to meet the Black Swan- who may or may not be evil murderers- and this whole thing could be a trap?
    Sophie: Pretty much.
  • Let Us Never Speak of This Again: In Everblaze, after Bronte recovers from having happiness inflicted on him, he turns to Sophie and Kenric and says, "We will never speak of this again."
  • Love Dodecahedron: Sophie instantly falls for the handsome Fitz. Fitz's best friend, Keefe, falls for Sophie. Biana used to have a crush on Keefe, but her affections seemed to move toward Dex. Dex used to have a huge crush on Sophie until realizing that they're better off as friends.
  • Luke, I Might Be Your Father: Sophie thinks that Kenric might be her birth father, but Mr. Forkle denies this is true.
  • Meaningful Funeral:
    • Sophie and Dex have a funeral that leaves Grady and Edaline stricken for a second time - first they lost their daughter, now they supposedly lost their adopted daughter, too.
    • A funeral for Alden is held when his mind breaks from the guilt brought on by Prentice's situation.
    • Kenric's Killed Off for Real funeral is rudely interrupted by King Dimitar, the ogre king.
  • Metaphorgotten: In Nightfall, when they're trying to figure out what to do with Alvar:
    Sophie: And he can't fool us if we're on to the game, right?
    Biana: Unless there's more than one game.
    Sophie: So we take the player off the field, or... I'm losing track of this metaphor.
  • Mirthless Laughter:
    • In chapter 36 of Legacy, Keefe bursts into joyless laughter at the latest turn of events.
      Laughter dragged Sophie out of her shocked daze.
      Joyless, hysterical laughter that went on and on—until Keefe was clutching his sides and wiping tears from his cheeks.
    • In the Tam short story, Tam laughs joylessly a few times at the circumstances he's facing.
      Laughter burst out of him at the reminder—cold, erratic sputters.
      Tam let out a dark laugh.
      Another dark, bitter laugh slipped through his lips as he considered the chances of that.
  • The Mole: Both Alvar and Brant were secretly working for the Neverseen for years.
  • Moment Killer:
    • In Exile, as Sophie has an emotional goodbye with Grady and Edaline before departing with Keefe and Silveny, Keefe breaks the moment by commenting on how "hardcore" they are with goodbyes.
    • In Flashback, Fitz and Sophie have just confessed their feelings for each other and are about to kiss when Sophie receives a telepathic cry for help from Silveny.
  • Mood-Swinger: Marella's mother, Lady Redek, has mood swings due to a brain injury from a fall. One character recalls a conversation where she laughed, cried, and screamed at them within minutes.
  • Moving Beyond Bereavement: Grady and Edaline lost their daughter Jolie years ago. They kept her bedroom exactly as it was, with Edaline sometimes spending the night in her daughter's bedroom. Part of Edaline's development is reaching a point where she's ready to pack up Jolie's stuff and put it away. In Stellarlune, she even offers up the vacant room as a possible temporary bedroom for Keefe.
  • Muggle Foster Parents: Sophie’s surrogate parents are humans and Sophie herself thinks she's human until Fitz tells her the truth. It's taken to another level as Sophie was implanted into her mother as an embryo and was effectively birthed into her human family.
  • Named After First Installment: Keeper of the Lost Cities is both the title of the first book as well as the series.
  • Narrative Profanity Filter: As the series goes on and the characters get older, it's natural that they'd be prone to swearing. However, the series' demogrphic is middle grade, a category that greatly resitricts overt swearing. As such, the narrative mentions characters who "shouted a bunch of words that would earn [them] a month of detention" or "muttered a few more creative words under [their] breath" and so on.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In Everblaze, Sophie attempts to read King Dimitar’s mind, is found out, almost starts a war, and provokes King Dimitar into unleashing a deadly plague.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: In Everblaze, Grady burns off Brant's hand when he admits to murdering Jolie. He would have burnt the rest of Brant's body as well if Sophie hadn't snapped Grady out of it.
  • Noodle Incident: The Great Gulon Incident is a prank Keefe pulled about three years before Sophie's arrival. Details about it are vague; all that's been shared is it had something to do with gulon, Dame Alina got caught up in it, and Keefe managed to plan it so well that Alina couldn't trace the prank back to him.
  • No One Could Survive That!:
    • Sandor falls off a cliff in Everblaze, breaking almost every bone in his body, but survives due to Elwin's medical treatment.
    • Fitz gets stabbed in Neverseen but barely manages to live long enough for his friends to reach out to Physic.
  • No Sparks: In Nightfall, Sophie and Dex have an awkward kiss which gets Dex to realize that there is no spark between them and they are better as friends.
  • Obfuscating Insanity: Brant pretended to be broken by the guilt of Jolie's death, while in reality, he was sneaking away to burn things for the Neverseen.
  • Obviously Not Fine: In chapter 41 of Legacy, after Sophie and Keefe have just met with Alvar Vacker, Keefe claims that he is fine when he is clearly not.
    "I'm fine, Foster," he interrupted in a squeaky voice that sounded anything but fine.
  • Oddly Common Rarity: Telepathy is stated to be a rare Talent, yet an overwhelming majority of the elves we're introduced to turn out to be Telepaths, and Telepathy is the most represented Talent within the main cast.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted with Marella and Maruca, whose names are spelled and sound similiar. This is lampshaded in Lodestar by Tam:
    "There's a Marella and a Maruca?" [...] "Yeah... I'm never going to be able to keep that straight."
  • One-Word Title: Aside from the first book, each one is given a title with only one word. This word is usually something relevant to the contents of the book, such as Exile being about Sophie visiting the elvish prison to see if she can heal Prentice or Nightfall being about Sophie and her friends' search for the mysterious facility.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
    • In the first book, when Sophie is leaving her human family, she realizes that she's going to miss her Annoying Younger Sibling Amy, and that, even though they fought all the time, the fighting was actually fun. She rushes over to hug her, and her parents gasp.
    • In Exile, when Sophie visits Everglen after Alden has fallen into a serious condition, Biana is unkempt and without makeup, in contrast to her usual immaculate self.
    • In Neverseen, the morning after Keefe finds out some hard-hitting news, his normally studiously rumpled hair is flat and un-styled.
    • Tinker usually only speaks in questions, so when she makes a direct statement, it usually indicates special circumstances. The first time she does it is when she's told about Dex designing weapons. She's shaken and murmurs, "He shouldn't."
      The words were hushed and simple- but coming from someone who only spoke in questions, they hit with a thud.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Dwarves are mole-like creatures with pointed faces who burrow through the earth like moles.
  • Our Elves Are Different: Elves look like beautiful humans with eyes in various shades of blue and ears that grow points as they become ancient. Most possess some form of superpower such as telepathy or hydrokenesis, are psychologically vulnerable to guilt, and have a technologically advanced society.
  • Our Gnomes Are Weirder: Gnomes are peaceful plantlike creatures with green teeth who can communicate with plants and have them do their bidding.
  • Our Goblins Are Different: Goblins are tall, muscled, gray-skinned creatures, live in cities of gold, and honor their warriors.
  • Over-the-Shoulder Carry: In Flashback, Ro is dragging Keefe back to his session when he makes a needling comment about her and Bo. She responds by tossing him over her shoulder and stomping out.
  • Parental Betrayal: Keefe’s mother, Lady Gisela, is the Neverseen's true leader. She only had Keefe as part of some complicated project she calls "stellarlune".
  • Parental Sexuality Squick: In Neverseen, Della mentions that she initially rejected Alden's advances because of the pressures that come with nobility. Fitz and Biana are put off by the talk of "advances" between their parents.
  • Parental Substitute:
    • Grady and Edaline are Sophie's foster, and later adopted, parents.
    • Sir Tiergan is Wyli's adopted father.
  • Parting-Words Regret: In Lodestar, Sophie is frustrated with Grady and Edaline for sending her to stay at Dex's instead of letting her stay to help defend from a potential attack. She is about to glare at them as she leaves, but then realizes that if something goes wrong, it could be the last time she sees them. So instead, she tells them she loves them.
  • Percussive Therapy: In the first book, Sophie throws rocks at a cave wall while in a terrible place emotionally, taking some comfort in the sounds of the rocks shattering. When she runs out of rocks, she kicks a boulder.
  • Person as Verb: In Legacy, Keefe attempts to cheer up Sophie by suggesting that they use "Fostering it" to refer to anytime a disaster happens.
  • The Place: Exile and Nightfall are titled after plot-important locations that the characters visit. Exile is a high-security prison, and Nightfall is a secret facility.
  • Plant Person: Gnomes are plantlike creatures.
  • Playing with Fire: Pyrokinetics like Fintan, Brant, and Marella can summon and manipulate fire. Pyrokinesis has been outlawed in the Lost Cities after an incident with Everblaze that killed several elves, so any that manifest are labelled "Talentless" and are forbidden from using their ability.
  • Pointy Ears: The tips of an elf's ears will begin to form points when they reach 1,000 thousand years. As they grow older, the points become sharper and more defined. Elves who've reached this age are known as Ancients.
  • Poison and Cure Gambit: In Neverseen, the plague creator blackmails the gnomes into servitude in exchange for the cure.
  • Polar Opposite Twins: Tam is defiant, rebellious, and fiercely protective, while his twin sister Linh is quiet, shy, and drawn into herself.
    The twins might look similar, but their personalities were opposites. Linh was a baby bird. Tam was a stalking tiger.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: In Legacy, when Sophie suggests "the Order of the Phoenix" as a team name, no one gets the reference, since none of the others grew up with humans.
  • Portmanteau: Keefe is fond of merging names together, either to represent a team or potential romantic pairing.
    • In Everblaze, when Fitz starts scheming with Sophie and Keefe, Keefe suggests that their team name could be "the Keefitzter" (a portmanteau of "Keefe", "Fitz", and "Foster"). Then Biana appears and insists on being included, adding in her own name to make "Keefianaitzter" and "Keefitzeriana".
    • In Neverseen, Keefe comes up with the names "Keefex" for himself and Dex, "Sophitz" and "Fitzphie" for Sophie and Fitz, "Sophex" and "Deephie" for Sophie and Dex, and "Sophorkle" for Sophie and Forkle.
    • In Lodestar, Keefe comes up with "Keefoster" for himself and Sophie and "Dophie" for Dex and Sophie. After Biana and Dex are left out of an excursion, Biana suggests they should form their own group called Team Bianex. When she agrees that it's not the best name, she comes up with "Dizznacker" and "Vackiznee" as alternatives (both use Dex and Biana's family names).
    • In Nightfall, Tam comes up with "Keephie" for Keefe and Sophie, and Keefe with "Dexphie" for Dex and Sophie. There's also the gorgodons, who are part gorgonops, part flareadon, part argentavis, and part eurypterid. Fitz thinks that should mean the gorgodons' name should be a portmanteau with each species' name, such as gorgentaveridon.
  • Post-Scarcity Economy: In the elves' society, everyone receives a huge "birth fund" equivalent to around 5 trillion human dollars. As Della explains it, "Money is something we have, not something we need. No one ever has to go without." Since they're so long-lived, they work just to fill the time and for the joy of it.
  • The Prankster: Keefe Sencen takes great pride in his pranks, especially the one dubbed the Great Gulon Incident. His disciplinary sheet is quite long.
  • Relative Error: When she first meets Tam and Linh, Sophie wonders if they're boyfriend and girlfriend, since they're sitting close together and sharing a fruit. It's only once she sees their faces that she realizes they're brother and sister.
  • La Résistance: The Black Swan is an old rebel group that formed in order to bring about change within the elvish world. Most members joined due to hardships they faced from being Talentless, bad matches, or even simply being part of a set of twins or triplets. Other joined because they were disgusted by the condition they found humanity in while knowing that they could easily fix most if not all of the problems they face.
  • Running Gag:
    • Iggy is fed one or muliple kinds of elixers that change his fur's color and/or texture. It's lampshaded in Stellarlune that it's been so long since Iggy's been his natural color that Sophie wonders if anyone even remembers what it was.
    • Fitz and Dex going "wow" when they see Linh's Hydrokinesis.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Sophie constantly breaks the law to do what she feels is right, espicially after she joins the Black Swan.
  • Second Super-Identity: Mr. Forkle is actually both Sir Astin and Magnate Leto. He has other secret identies, but those are two he was willing to confirm.
  • Secret Identity: The Collective is the Black Swan's version of the Council. Unlike the Council, they all wear disguises and have code names: Mr Forkle, Squall, Blur, Wraith, and Granite. Mr. Forkle is really Magnate Leto, who has another secret idenity in Sir Astin, Granite is actually Sir Tiergan, and Squall is Juline, Dex's mother.
  • Secretly Selfish: In Legacy, a character is revealed to have selfish motivations. Councillors are forbidden from marrying and having families, so the only way Oralie could have a child and keep her position was to become a donor for Project Moonlark. This is in spite of the fact that she knew doing so would render the child unmatchable; without both biological parents' names, the person can't be matched, and couples who are considered bad matches are ridiculed and scorned. By the time Sophie realizes that Oralie is her biological mother, the elvin community has been fully shaken up by the Neverseen's actions. If she were to out the well-loved Oralie, it would result in another massive shake-up during a time when they need all the stability they can get. Sophie wants nothing to do with Oralie after she finds out all of this and only works with her because bringing down the Neverseen is far more important.
  • See the Invisible: Normally, gnomes can see Vanishers when they turn invisible because they can see "glints of life" gathering on their skin.
  • Self-Sacrifice Scheme: To make the cure for the gnomes' plague, Calla sacrifices herself by turning into a Panakes tree.
  • Series Continuity Error: In the first book, Stina's family's name is given as "Logner" when they first show up, but is "Heks" for the rest of the novel. The error was corrected for future printings.
  • Shipper on Deck: It's clear that Grizel loves Sandor and Sophie encourges Sandor to act on his own feelings.
  • Shout-Out: There are several references scattered throughout the books, many of them to well-known pop-culture icons.
    • In Chapter 15 of the first novel, Fitz is reading a book titled Twenty-Five Ways to Catch the Wind, a reference to the Sky Fall series by the same author.
    • In Legacy, when Sophie's friends are suggesting new names to replace "Team Prodigious", Sophie suggests "the Order of the Phoenix".
  • Significant Anagram:
    • "Kerlof" is an anagram for "Forkle". Magnate Leto Kerlof is Mr. Forkle.
    • "Granite" is an anagram for "Tiergan". Sir Tiergan poses as Granite whever he's called on for a Collective meeting or to represent the Black Swan.
  • Sink or Swim Mentor: Councillor Bronte doesn't take his Inflicting sessions with Sophie lightly; he often pushes her to practice inflicting him with harmful emotions even though the ability is so new and scares her.
  • Sneaky Departure: During the climactic confrontation with the Neverseen in Nightfall, Biana slips away from the group before they get locked in and seeks out the villains herself.
  • The Squad: Sophie, Biana, Dex, Wylie, and Stina were picked by the Council to form Team Valiant, a noble group specifically to aid the fight against the Neverseen and the restoration of the peace. It takes Sophie some time to grow into her role as team leader.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Kenric and Oralie are obviously in love, but they can't be together due to the rule that Councillors can't get married or have families.
  • Suddenly Shouting: In chapter 33 of Legacy, Keefe insists on being allowed to go to London to try and trigger his memories, switching mid-sentence to shouting for emphasis.
    Keefe: Maybe I've even used that path my mom used to leave. I can't remember it because SHE ERASED MY MEMORIES SO I WOULDN'T REALIZE SHE WAS KILLING PEOPLE!
  • Superior Species: Deconstructed with the elves; the elvin mind can't deal with guilt or violence: too much of either and it will shatter. To compensate, they've used their superior intellect to come at problems and conflicts through peaceful means. As such, they've developed medicinal treatments that don't require needles or major surgeries, they're huge on nature conservation and eat a vegetarian diet, and they've managed to keep the peace between the various intelligent species for thousands of years. The big exception to that last one was when humanity tried to overthrow the elves, leading them to hide themselves and let humanity eventually forget about their existence. (Nightfall reveals that the real reason humanity got angry at the elves was that they learned a group of them were running horrific experiments on some humans.) The elves also don't separate themselves based on skin color or other such prejudices usually found amongst humanity, but there is a lot of elitism surrounding Talents and those who don't have any, as well as couples who are deemed a "bad match".
  • Synthetic Plague: The ogres bioengineered a plague to get the gnomes to be their slaves.
  • Tears of Remorse: At the end of Everblaze, Dex repeatedly apologies to Sophie through his tears after he permanently puts an ability-restricting circlet on Sophie.
  • Teleport Interdiction: Force fields can be set up to prevent light leaping to or from an area.
  • Tell Me About My Father: Sophie initially lets the question as to the identity of her biological parents go until she finds out not having that information renders her unmatchable. Since this is a huge problem in elvish culture and Fitz takes matchmaking seriously, she badgers Mr. Forkle for the information who warns her not to go looking.
  • Tempting Fate: In Legacy, when Team Valiant first visits Loamnore, there are two paths ahead of them — one lit, and one pitch black. Sophie hopes that they'll be taking the lit path, only to immediately have that hope dashed.
    […] delicate glass jars flickered with tongues of pale orange fire, providing just enough light to reveal two hallways ahead.
    One was narrow, but bright enough to tell that it curved to the left.
    The other was a wide, black void of nothingness.
    "We call this our Visitor Center," Nubiti explained. "Those with permission to enter the city go that way"—she pointed to the path that Sophie very much hoped they were taking—"and those here for King Enki go this way."
  • That Came Out Wrong: In Lodestar, Sophie and Keefe hold hands as they levitate through an area. Sophie has recently manifested as an Enhancer, which makes her enhance the abilities of whomever she's touching, in this case, Keefe's empathic abilities. Keefe- who hadn't been informed of this beforehand, voices his observations:
    "So, quick question." [...] "Is there a reason I keep getting this crazy rush every time I touch your hand?" He cleared his throat when he realized how that sounded, "What I mean is, your emotions always feel strong. But now they're on another level."
  • Token Evil Teammate:
    • The sardonic and resentful Coiffe is a member of the Black Swan.
    • Stina Heks is often snide, needlessly argumentive, and generally unpleasent. She's also a member of Team Valiant, and does come up with some good points.
  • Too Much Information: In Neverseen, Silveny shares memories of mating with Greyfell with Sophie, who is thoroughly squicked, as are her friends when she tells them about it.
    "Gah!" Sophie said, shoving the last images out of her mind. TMI, Silveny. Too. Much. Information!
  • Toy-Based Characterization: Elwin has a ton of stuffed animal plushies in his home and is more than willing to gift them to anyone who might benefit from a snuggle buddy.
  • Transflormation: When gnomes die, they turn into plants. Neverseen reveals the Panakes are former gnomes who transformed themselves.
  • Translation Convention: Most of the dialogue in the series is in the Enlightened Language, the language of elves. When another language is spoken, which Sophie can always understand, the text is still presented in English.
  • Tree Buchet: In Neverseen, when Sophie's group needs to make a getaway, Calla makes a tree bend down, put its branches around them, then straighten up, catapulting them through the air.
  • Trickster Twins: The Dizznee triplets are a whirlwind of chaos often stampeding through the house, screaming and shouting at each other, and leaving a mess behind.
  • Trigger Phrase:
    • In Neverseen, the Neverseen trigger some of Keefe's hidden memories with the phrase "Lodestar Initiative".
    • In Flashback, Vespera's voice triggers Alvar's memories to return.
  • Two Aliases, One Character:
    • In Neverseen, one of Mr. Forkle's other aliases is revealed to be Sir Astin, Sophie's mentor for the Universe in Level Two, and his true identity is Leto. Coiffe is revealed to be Timkin Heks, and Granite is revealed to be Sir Tiergan.
    • An inversion in Neverseen: Sophie's investigations into the identity of the Boy Who Disappeared turn up a former Exillium student named Ruy Ignis. It's later revealed that the Boy and Ruy are separate people.
    • In Lodestar, Squall is revealed to be Juline, Dex's mother and Edaline's sister.
  • Vegetarian Carnivore: Grady and Edaline train animals like T-rexes to stop hunting and go vegetarian. It helps that gnomes can grow plants with the taste and texture of meat.
  • Villains Act, Heroes React: From the very start, the heroes, the Black Swan and the Council do nothing but attempt (with very mixed results) to stop the evil plans of the Neverseen. It gets to the point where Sophie can't help but feel discouraged by the fact they are always one step behind the villains, allowing innocent lives to be lost because they want to keep the moral high ground, when they don't simply put a spanner in each other's work. The one time Sophie decides to take the initiative in Unlocked, burning the Neverseen hideout to impede for once, she is berated by the adults and her friends. While they say she should have made the decision with them, they mostly scold her because they claim she has now waged war on the Neverseen, put her allies in danger and stooped as low as their enemies, even when said enemies have been killing and torturing their ranks and innocent bystanders from the start.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Sandor is a tall, muscled goblin with a soft, high voice described as sounding more suited for a bunny or chipmunk.
  • Wham Line: In Neverseen, when Sophie is examining a memory of Keefe's, she hears Lady Gisela tell the Boy Who Disappeared, "Then perhaps you should go to Exillium. Ruy is having no problems there". This reveals that contrary to what was assumed prior, Ruy and the Boy are separate people.
  • When Trees Attack: The gnomes can control trees to make them attack someone.
  • Why Couldn't You Be Different?:
    • Lord Cassius often expresses his wish that his son, Keefe, was more "like a Sencen".
    • Tam and Linh’s father was ashamed that they were twins, and tried to pass off Tam as one year older. Tam and Linh refused to go along with it.
  • Withholding the Cure: King Dimitar used the cure to the plague as a bargain to get the gnomes to become his slaves.
  • Wizarding School: Foxfire is a prestigoues elvish school that protizes one-on-one training over a classroom environment.
  • You Have Failed Me: In Exile, Wylie wants Sophie to wake up Prentice, but Sophie- who is the reason why his father chose to let his mind be broken and thus abandon his family- doesn’t know how.