Mysterious Travelers: Prince of Nowhere and the Lock-Eater

It’s Cybils nominating season! As you will know if you’ve been reading here for a while, the Cybils nominations are a crowd-sourced effort – and each member of the crowd can nominate only one book in each category. That means that we need lots of people participating to make sure that every worthy book gets nominated! Plus, I can say from personal experience that it is very satisfying indeed to look at the finalist lists on January 1 and see that a book that you nominated made it to the shortlist.

Many years, I put together lists of worthy contenders that haven’t yet been nominated. I may get there yet, but for now, I am starting with trying to catch up with reviewing eligible books. If you are looking for ideas of books to nominate, you can also look at the Cybils Padlet.

The Prince of Nowhere by Rochelle Hassan. HarperCollins, 2022. ISBN 9780063054608. Read from library copy. 

Roda’s ordinary life with her mother and Aunt Dora is drawn into mystery as she starts finding notes from Anonymous filled with riddles for her to answer about Nowhere.  The first of these leads her to rescue a crow, injured from flying through the magical mist barrier that protects her city from the wild lands outside.  The crow – definitely more than just a crow – and further notes lead Roda to venture outside the mist for the first time ever.  There, she learns more about the legacy of the great Aurelion Kader, whose research led to the creation of the mist, and meets a mysterious and deeply suspicious person who wants to be known as the Traveler.  

The plot is so twisty and full of surprises that it’s difficult to say much more about it without giving away key things.  But with riddles, time travel, dragons, automata with personalities, and the last survivors of fallen cities, as well as a great central friendship, this is a truly unique book that I keep thinking about months after I read it.  

The Lock-Eater  by Zack Loran Clark. Dial Books, 2022 ISBN 978-1984816887  Read from library copy. Ebook and audiobook available on Libby.

Melanie Gate has grown up at the Merrytrails Orphanage for Girls, a home filled with a diverse population, all cared for by the elderly Mrs. Harbargain, who does her best despite the lack of resources. Melanie’s best friend, Jane Alley, is a quiet contrast to Melanie who possesses a truly impressive imagination.  Only Mrs. Harbargain has anything kind to say about the mean-tempered cat, Abraxas, who torments the little girls.  Melanie wishes she knew anything about her past, and has to keep her power to open locks hidden, as the Thaumaturgy frowns on anyone not part of the government using magic. 

This familiar life changes abruptly when a six-foot-tall copper gearling called Traveler recruits her – he says to be apprentice to a witch in the nearby woods.  But Traveler is not what he seems, and leads Melanie on an adventure that will help unravel the mysteries of her own past as well as those behind Traveler. which in turn uncovers secrets that will rock the very foundations of the Thaumaturgy. (As the Thaumaturgic Empire has a banner with three red eyes on it, besides preventing innocent girls from using their magic, it’s pretty clear from the beginning that the empire is not the utopia it makes itself out to be.)  

On the way, Melanie meets captive griffins, develops a first crush on a young tailor/seamstress named Livia, learns of the fearsome Ley Coven, and finds a new path for her companions at the orphanage.  This was one I enjoyed so much that I couldn’t stop reading and didn’t want it to end. 

About Katy K.

I'm a librarian and book worm who believes that children and adults deserve great books to read.
This entry was posted in Fantasy, Middle Grade, Print, Reviews and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Mysterious Travelers: Prince of Nowhere and the Lock-Eater

  1. I guess it makes sense that Traveller is a popular name for mysterious figures …:) Time travel and dragons really appeal to me so thanks for the tip!

  2. They both sound like good books.

    The one that grabs me is probably the LOCK-EATER.

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