The Lost Books: The Scroll of Kings, by Sarah Prineas

The Lost Books: The Scroll of Kings, Sarah Prineas' newest middle grade fantasy (out tomorrow, June 26 from HarperCollins), made me tremendously happy.  It is the sort of book that reminds me why I say mg fantasy is my favorite genre, and reminds me of how lovely an escape from mundane nuisances reading can be.  I was predisposed in its favor, of course, since books are central to the story, and because I've enjoyed Sarah Prineas' other books very much, but still the purity of my reading enjoyment exceeded my high expectations.

Alex is an apprentice librarian, learning the hard way that some books are dangerous; literally, infused with deadly magic sort of dangerous.  Then his librarian master dies, at the hands pages of a book, and Alex must look for another post.  With a bit of sneaky forgery (to boost his lack of solid credentials, and to disguise the fact that he's still just 15), he inveigles himself into the job of royal librarian (he does not lack for self confidence) for a trial period.

When he arrives to take over his new library, he finds a daunting task.  The books are feral, the catalogue system a disaster, and there are books that are not only wild, but deadly, and determined to spread their magical contamination.  It's not just a matter of weeding the bad ones, but saving the whole library full of irreplaceable books from destruction.  So it's a good thing he knows how to use his wits, and his sword....

The queen, Kenneret, isn't convinced that Alex is the librarian she needs, but she's distracted by the whole business of being a young and inexperienced ruler (she too is in her mid teens).  She has her uncle to rely on, but as the book progresses, we see her realizing that he is not necessarily acting in her best interests, or the interests of her kingdom, and we see her stepping up to the demands of her position with intelligence and determination.  She's distracted a little by her brother Charlie, who's been kicked out of yet another school.  She sends Charlie to work with Alex...and though Alex soon finds that Charlie can't read, the two form a strong alliance in support of Kenneret, and against the feral books.

It's one of the books where the characters have to figure out not just a mystery, but each other, and that's the best type of book! Political intrigue plus secrets plus magic plus characters to love plus a nice brisk story makes for great reading.  Though the characters are in their mid teens, this is still solidly middle grade, with no "mature" content.

Sometimes I like to point out the differences of opinion I have with Kirkus, but in this case the only quarrel I have with their review is that it wasn't quite as blatantly enthusiastic as I would have liked.  But I think the woman who reviewed it for SLJ was just the wrong reader; she says "Alex is snarky and not particularly likable" which I disagree with vehemently (the snarky part is true, but that only makes him more likable in my opinion....).  And I have no disagreements at all with Brandy's review at Random Musings of a Bibliophile, which doesn't surprise me because our tastes are so similar.

Give this one to young readers who enjoyed The False Prince, by Jennifer Nielsen, or Prineas' own Magic Thief series.

Warning:  I lost this book three times between when I read it and today; the first two times it turned up again in plain sight in places I'd already looked (as of this writing, it seems to be nowhere in the house, but since I'm planning on buying a hardcopy, that's ok); I am not unappreciative of the irony.

Disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher at the author's request.


  1. I haven't heard of this one, so I'm super exctied to read this review. It sounds great! I'll have to look into getting this one for the library. Thanks!

  2. Definitely purchasing this one, but both my Die-Hard Fantasy Reader Student (seriously, he went through two books a day and gave up reading fiction for Lent! At least I got to hand him a lot of nonfiction!) and I were a bit annoyed with Alex at the beginning of the book. I can do snarky, but his snarky worked against him. D-HFRS and I also missed the cups of tea by the cozy fire from The Magic Thief as well, so were both slightly disappointed.

  3. "The purity of your reading enjoyment": I know exactly what you mean and you've sold me on this book with that comment. (Also with the premise and the author. One can never have too many books about librarians!)

  4. I loved it too, and think your review is spot on!

  5. The books are feral -- well, you sure got my interest there! This sounds fun. Not the kind of book I usually read, but you made it sound interesting. I will be looking for it. Thanks for the review.


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