The Children of the Lost by David Whitley

Rating 8.4/10
The Children of the Lost is a worthy continuation of a fine little series.

In 2009 David Whitley's debut The Midnight Charter was published and I reviewed it here. It was a beautiful and compelling read that marked one of the most promising debuts in recent years. And so expectations are high, both from the industry and myself, for the second book in the series, The Children of the Lost.

Mark and Lily have been banished from Agora, the ancient city-state where everything is for sale – memories, emotions – even children. Lost and alone they discover Giseth, a seemingly perfect land where everyone is equal, possessions are unknown, and Lily believes they will find the secret of their entwined destiny. But paradise comes at a price. Why are their new friends so scared? What hides deep in the forest? And who is the mysterious woman who appears in their dreams, urging them to find The Children of the Lost?

David Whitley is a good author, indeed he is a very good author, and this much is evident within the first few pages of this book. The speed with which you fall under a book's spell is testament to the author's skill and The Children of the Lost had me from the first page. Picking up the second book in a series, almost a year after reading the first, can sometimes require a period of adjustment but this was not the case here - it was just like visiting old friends. The fantasy genre thrives on escapism (which this book offers in abundance) and that is why, when it is good, it can provide a most exhilarating reading experience. This is why The Lord of the Rings always has been and always will be such a beloved book.

The Midnight Charter laid impressive and firm foundations and The Children of the Lost builds well upon them. The city of Agora still stands out as the most wonderful of creations and it has a brooding atmosphere all of it's own, almost as if it is a living entity. Although we now find Mark and Lily outside the city walls we are still able to keep abreast of matters within the ancient city-state thanks to seeing events through the eyes of many of the characters first introduced The Midnight Charter: Snutsworth, Cherubina, Laud, Ben, Dr Theo et al. But Mark and Lily's destiny is still the centrepiece and driving force of the story and once again their different character traits create a great contrast: Lily is caring, thoughtful, helpful and always hopeful whilst Mark is cynical, distrusting and selfish. It is interesting to watch both characters develop as their traits begin to show in each other, in particular as Lily's inherent goodness helps Mark to become a rather less unsavoury human being.

The first two thirds of the book are very good, involving and interesting. We are with familiar characters but in a completely new and exciting environment. The only downside, in my opinion, was a lull about two-thirds of the way through the book, before the thrilling and climatic ending.

The Children of the Lost is a worthy continuation of a fine little series that shows that Puffin, in Mark Whitley and Matthew Skelton, have two very fine young authors who are producing excellent fiction for older children and young adults.

David Whitley was born in Chester in 1984. At the age of seventeen he was shortlisted for the Kathleen Fidler Award for a children's novel and at twenty he won the Cheshire Prize for Literature for a children's short story.

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All reviews for: The Agora Trilogy

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