Book Review: THE SHADOW KEEPER by Abi Elphinstone (Middle Grade Monday)

Title in black beneath image of block children running on a beach
Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: MG
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: yes - second book of trilogy



Moll Pecksniff and her friends are living as outlaws in a secret cave by the sea, desperate to stay hidden from the Shadowmasks. But further along the coast lies the Amulet of Truth, the only thing powerful enough to force the Shadowmasks back and contain their dark magic. So, together with Gryff, the wildcat that’s always by her side, and her best friends Alfie and Sid, Moll must sneak past smugglers, outwit mer creatures and crack secret codes to save the Old Magic.

With more at stake than ever before and the dark magic rising fast, can Moll and her friends stop the Shadowmasks before it’s too late?

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


THE SHADOW KEEPER leans into the quest element of the story. After the more adventure feel of the first book that only introduced the amulets at the end, this book was focused towards finding the second amulet. There was still a lot of adventure, but it felt more like a quest book than anything – which I liked, as a lover of classic fantasy-esque books.

There was also a high incidence of riddles in this book, underpinning the quest. I like puzzles, so it was a fun addition to the book, the characters having to crack codes and such to find the next clue to get the amulet.

There was a very deliberate withholding of information in this book – a lot of “it is not the right time for you to know” that went on. It’s not my favourite technique to control information in a book, as the reasons rarely feel solid, making it feel more like the information is being held back for tension, and for a big reveal later.

For example, the information about Gryff’s weakness is held back until after it becomes important (the information is whispered to Moll beforehand, but the reader isn’t told). It was an instance where I think telling the reader about it before would have been more powerful, as I’d have been on edge more because I knew the specifics. Then the initial “he’s injured” would have had a bigger impact as I wasn’t waiting for the “why/how” to be explained.

I think this might be an age gap thing. I am more than twice the target age range, and so my expectations about information aren’t the same as the target market. But it was an interesting craft thing to note – something I’m more aware of noticing as I read these days!

And onto the finale! After the final chapter, it promises to be a very emotional quest now they are close to the end, but have lost what is dear to them.

Read my reviews of other books by Abi Elphinstone:

The Dreamsnatcher (this series):

The Unmapped Chronicles:



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