Hunters of the Lost City

What would your life be like if your home was protected from fearsome creatures by walls and gates that close every night? Twelve-year-old Octavia Silvia lives in just such a place—as one of the only survivors of a war waged fifty years ago. Octavia is not content to sit by and work in the bakery with her siblings; she wants to follow in her mother’s footsteps as a hunter. But she can’t do that anymore because of the untimely death of her sister Hana. As luck would have it, though, Octavia unexpectedly finds herself beyond the reach of her town as night falls, and she must challenge her understanding of the world in order to survive. This book is incredibly well written and will please older middle grade and newer young adult fantasy fans from beginning to end. Please see my full review below!


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It has been fifty years since a terrible war destroyed the world, leaving only a solitary city surrounded by terrifying magical creatures in its wake. Twelve-year-old Octavia has only known the town of Vittoria, its bells, and its rules for her entire life, and she is determined to become a hunter to protect her town from harm. Ever since the death of her sister Hana the previous winter, though, all of Octavia’s formal plans to become a hunter have dissolved—but that does not stop her from continuing to practice the training Hana began while she was alive. One such practice session draws Octavia farther from Vittoria than she planned, and she finds herself directly in the path of a fearsome monster. Octavia’s very survival is in question, and when the dust settles, she begins to realize that the truths she has always believed may not be as substantial as she once thought.


This gripping fantasy adventure is ideally suited to older middle grade readers who are on the precipice of young adult literature. Octavia herself is twelve-years-old and much of the plot focuses on her discovery of the wider world, just as the target audience is sharing similar experiences. The story itself can be read as a metaphor for the protection children receive in their youth falling away as those children become teenagers, and the plot beautifully investigates this inevitable time of growth in an engaging way. Throughout the novel, secrets and lies are presented and dispelled in a pattern that keeps readers guessing from one chapter to the next. It is important to note that readers are given ample opportunity to come to their own conclusions even as the truth is carefully revealed within the narrative; this balance provides readers with a profound sense of satisfaction by the end of the novel.


From world-building to character development to overall storytelling, the writing in this novel is exquisite and helps readers fall head first into the fictional land in which Octavia resides. Each element blends elegantly into the next, and subtle moments of emotional connection enhance the primary mystery being solved. Strong backstories make the moments within the narrative realistic and believable, and readers mirror the characters in wondering where the truth really lies. Like much of history, the truth is found somewhere within the stories that have been passed down, and it requires dedication to dig to its roots. Octavia has the tenacity to do just that, and her story is one that will resonate with older middle grade and newer young adult readers long after the final page is turned. This is a highly recommended addition to fantasy collections for early teen readers.



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