Title: Sorcery of Thorns
Author: Margaret Rogerson
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
My Rating: 5 stars
“Books, too, had hearts, though they were not the same as people’s, and a book’s heart could be broken: she had seen it happen before. Grimoires that refused to open, their voices gone silent, or whose ink faded and bled across the pages like tears.”
I knew I would like this book as soon as I read the description; it centers around magical books and warden librarians, and the whole concept of the story grabbed my interest right off the bat. If I had any reservations, they were all put to rest during the first chapter when we meet a grimoire bound with human eyes, and start to learn about the magic in this world. The book’s atmosphere drew me right in, and I was excited to devour this story from the very beginning.
– Books that turn into ink and leather monsters, vaults under the libraries to keep the most unruly grimoires imprisoned, and grimoires with all types of dispositions (friendly and otherwise)
– a book called The Book of Eyes that’s covered in living human eyes, libraries with secret passageways, demons of all shapes and sizes
– female friendship, a main character that stands up for herself and does the right thing just because it is the right thing to do, romance that doesn’t overshadow the plot
“Elisabeth lit up.
“Grimoires,” she breathed, even more delighted than before.
Nathaniel’s expression grew odd. “You like this place?”
“Of course I do. It has books in it.”
I loved that the different books all had personalities! From a book that “needed to be complimented out loud at least once per day, or it would snap shut like a clam and refuse to open again for years” to a book that “developed a habit of wiggling provocatively every time it saw her coming”, there were grimoires of all types, and I appreciated the element and fun it added to the story. There were all kinds of magical items outside of the books themselves, and these items were all unique and interesting. Every sorcerer has a demon that basically functions as a familiar, in the sense that it is bound to the sorcerer and looks out for them, and I loved Nathaniel’s demon Silas. Of course, this may be due to the fact that he frequently chose the form of a very cuddly white cat when he was trying to be inconspicuous.
“The sleeping city looked like an illusion spun from fairy lights. Pointed spires reared glittering into shadow, the statues atop them cutting shapes from the stars. Columns of gold shimmered on the black water beneath. .. She stared across the shining city, ancient, impossibly vast, and wondered how all that light and beauty could exist side by side with so much darkness.”
This book stands out from anything I’ve ever read, but if I was going to compare the writing style to anything then I’d say it reminded me of the Caraval series with its beautiful scenery, and intricate descriptions of the characters and the world. (With maybe a little bit of Harry Potter and Sabrina thrown in!) But again, it wasn’t enough like any other fantasy novel to make a true comparison. The city was glittering and regal, while hiding an underbelly of crime and grit, and the author did a great job of conveying that things may look pretty, but that doesn’t always mean that they don’t bite. The author also touched on how women can be stereotyped and underestimated, and how people in power have influence over the world around them and over others of lesser status. Elisabeth faced many disadvantages and struggles, but she never let them get her down or let them discourage her from doing the right thing- even when others encouraged her to give up in the face of danger and possible death.
“Elisabeth hesitated. She could explain everything. She could ask Mercy to help her —to testify against Ashcroft. But who would believe her? She now understood that the world wasn’t kind to young women, especially when they behaved in ways men didn’t like, and spoke truths that men weren’t ready to hear. No one would listen to Mercy, just as no one had listened to her.”
The romance doesn’t overshadow the story, and it actually takes quite a while to develop. The chemistry between Nathaniel and Elisabeth is great, even if he has nicknames for her like “you terror” or “you nuisance”, it’s always said in jest and with fondness. Nathaniel has a hard time opening up to people, and it was sweet to watch Elizabeth ease him out of his reclusive shell. There are plenty of tense action scenes, and the pacing is consistent and compelling throughout. The book has a few big fight sequences, and lots of smaller important confrontations as it progresses. I felt helpless right along with Elisabeth at times, and at other times I could feel her courage and determination. Overall, I really enjoyed this book, and recommend that you give it a shot! There’s something for everyone, and even if you don’t enjoy it as much as I did, the book is a standalone so it isn’t too much of a commitment.