Reviews

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

# of Pages: 453

Time it took me to read: 4 days

# of pages a day to finish in a week: 65

Rating: 5 out of 5

Elisabeth Scrivener has lived in the Great Library of Summershall all her life. Currently an apprentice librarian, she dreams of someday being a warden, the a protector of the library from all things evil – namely sorcerers and their demonic magic. But when the Director of the Library, and the closest thing Elisabeth has ever had to a parent, is murdered and the blame is placed squarely on her shoulders, she must team up with her most unlikely ally in order to clear her name and discover the true murderer. Nathanial Thorn is a sorcerer from one of oldest and most powerful houses of sorcery, and at first glance he is everything that Elisabeth has always known to be evil – arrogant, calculating, someone who has sold his soul to a powerful demon in order to use magic.

But once she’s left the Great Library behind, Elisabeth learns that things are not as black and white as she always thought. Her Great Library was not the only one attacked, and Elisabeth seems to be the only one able, and willing, to get to the bottom of this mystery – one that could unravel the very fabric of her kingdom as she knows it.

Review:

First off, it feels a little bit odd giving this book five stars after my last five star book (check out my feelings on A Song of Wraiths and Ruin), but I couldn’t take any stars away from this book because I really couldn’t find fault with this story, even though it didn’t make me have quite the same feelings as A Song of Wraiths and Ruin. This book is also a standalone novel, so this post will be a review only, and will not include a summary.

Sorcery of Thorns spoke right to my nerd-girl heart with this brilliantly unique concept. The kingdom of Austermeer is a magical land that is notable for it’s six Great Libraries, incredible institutions where magical, living books called grimoires are housed, both to protect them from those who would use them for harm, and to protect ordinary folks who might be harmed by the grimoires. The grimoires can speak and move and sing, and have their own unique forms of magic. But if you agitate one too much, it can transform into a powerful and dangerous Malefict, which depending on the class of the grimoire, can cause massive destruction, maiming and killing people. It’s just such a powerful and completely original concept, I was hooked from the very beginning. I like a good standalone novel every now and again, but the concept was so incredible, I find myself disappointed I don’t get to spend more time in this amazing world Rogerson has created. I do, however, think that she did an incredible job telling this story from beginning to end in less than five hundred pages. Could never be me.

If you’re drawn to books with unique or morally ambiguous characters, however, this may not be the story for you. Both Elisabeth and Nathanial are the epitome of classic YA tropes. Nathanial is originally dark and brooding, but he’s one of those “I had to build a wall around my heart to protect myself due to my tragic past” kind of love interests, but he of course has a gooey cinnamon bun soul. Elisabeth is your classic heroine who starts out pretty naive, but has an unwavering drive to do the right thing and survive no matter what. She’s also got that thing going for her that she wants to train to be a warden, but doesn’t have much experience wielding a weapon. But by the end of the book she is very talented at wielding a sword, despite the fact that she never seems to train with it. But any faults of her character are completely and utterly forgivable in my opinion because she is so charming and comforting as a character. Nathanial calls her a “feral librarian” once or twice, which is an accurate description because she has no idea how “society” works having grown up an orphan in a library her whole life, and her bumbling attempts at mingling with Austermeer’s nobility are pretty funny. Also Elisabeth is described as really tall, like taller than most men, and as a tall girl I feel very attached to her and very seen, as heroines are typically described as slight, or have their love interests towering over them. Elisabeth is my kind of tall girl, she embraces her height and uses it to her advantage. I do like very much that neither Nathanial or Elisabeth try to be anything other than what they are – classic YA tropes who are so easy to love and root for because tropes exist for a reason – because they work.

I’ll take a quick moment to go into the only other character of note in this story, Silas. Without giving too much away, he is someone who has served and cared for Nathanial his whole life, there is a short moment where I was concerned that this was going to be a love triangle that I never asked for, but luckily that is not the case and that is clarified pretty early on, to my relief. I would say that Silas is probably the character that is the least defined by trope of the main characters, but he is charming and comforting all the same. Since this is a spoiler-free review, I’ll stop before describing too much about him, but he is certainly a worthy character in this small-cast story.

The world building, as I mentioned a bit before, is beautifully original and well done. One might argue, in fact, that she goes a bit too hard with some of the concepts that she builds. For example, the moss folk, who are faerie-like creatures that were nearly wiped out by humanity and their destruction of the forests in Austermeer. Very interesting, and brought up a few times, but they never really come into play in any way. Even though the story and the characters wrapped up well in this standalone piece, I find myself craving more time in Austermeer, even with different characters, but alas, this is all I’m getting. So that is really the only complaint I have about my experience reading this book, so again I really felt as though I couldn’t justify taking a way even half a star here.

If you’re looking for something highly unique and well written with a world of magical books that will call to any book-nerd’s heart, without having to commit to a series, this book is certainly for you. But if you’re tired of books that play upon common character tropes, you may not get as much from this story as I did.

If you liked Sorcery of Thorns, try:

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Carry On by Rainbow Rowel

The Book Thief by Marcus Zuzak

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