Title: Sorcery of Thorns
Author: Margaret Rogerson
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Published: June 4th, 2019 (Margaret K. McElderry Books)
Synopsis: All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.
Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.
As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught—about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined.
“These weren’t ordinary books the Great Library kept. They whispered on the shelves and shuddered beneath iron chains. Some spat ink and threw tantrums; others sang to themselves in high, clear notes on windless nights, when starlight streamed through the library’s barred windows like shafts of mercury. Others still were so dangerous they had to be stored in the underground vault, packed in salt.
Not all of them were her friends.”
A huge thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this novel!
Elisabeth Scrivener is an apprentice at the Great Library of Summershall, and dreams of one day becoming a warden, to safeguard the kingdom from the grimoires that the Libraries house. Sorcery is evil, Elisabeth is quite sure of it, having grown up in the library surrounded by various magical grimoires – the spell books that sorcerers use, several of them extremely dangerous should they get out of hand. Yet, when a dangerous grimoire gets loose with disastrous consequences, and Elisabeth manages to stop it, casting suspicion on herself, it is the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn and his demonic servant Silas that she has no choice but to turn to. It was no accident though, but an act of sabotage – of sorcery – that caused the grimoire to be released, and Elisabeth quickly finds herself caught up in a far deeper and grander conspiracy that puts their entire world at risk.
Finding good books about books is surprisingly hard. One that immediately jumps to mind is the Inkheart trilogy which I read way back in middle school. A more recent one is the ongoing Great Library series. Sorcery of Thorns is definitely a magical addition to that list. I absolutely loved that the books had personalities and attitudes that reflected their contents, and this was such a unique and fantastical tale. This was my first time reading one of Margaret Rogerson’s books, but after this, An Enchantment of Ravens is moving up to the top of my backlist. I really enjoyed the writing style and narration, especially the fact that the story started right away and there was no dawdling around for the purposes of world-building and introducing characters – who by the way, were very well fleshed out over the course of a moderately long story. I also liked the somewhat historical setting of the tale, which was helpful in drawing attention to how easily dismissed women’s opinions were in those times, labelling them as mad or hysterical. It was quite satisfying to see Elisabeth overcome these kinds of odds along with the more magical side of things.
Elisabeth’s naiveness with regards to the whole ‘all sorcery is evil’ thing is a bit extreme and takes longer than it should to wear off. Nathaniel was amazing of course, witty and a little dark, but I liked Silas even more. To be honest, apart from the grimoires, Silas was my next favourite part of the story. He spends most of the book trying to convince Elisabeth (and himself) that as a demon bound to Nathaniel’s service, he doesn’t see humans the same way and definitely does not care for them. It’s actually kind of hilarious and adorable at the same time to watch him act at times like an exasperated parent, then a terrifyingly powerful being and at others as a loyal protector – one who definitely does care for humans, just not in a human way, and Margaret Rogerson has captured this portrayal perfectly.
With most fantasy novels these days being part of a series, it was a refreshing change to read this standalone – and even better that the story was so well put together and felt complete by the end of it. The easy banter and light humour between Nathaniel and Elisabeth makes this a delight to read. I would highly recommend this, not only for fantasy fans, but book lovers in general who will definitely be able to relate to Elisabeth and lose themselves in a new world of books.
Have you read this book or do you plan to? Let me know in the comments below!