- Theme: A magical, insanely creative YA fantasy centered around a wondrous chain of libraries that secure deadly grimoires and equally as dangerous secrets. There is also an interesting historical twist that sets the story in a parallel universe of our own.
- Nature of Review: An ARC was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
- Release Date: Sorcery of Thorns is scheduled to release June 04, 2019! You can buy it in ebook or hardcover format at nearly every book retailer.
- Warnings: gore and violence, harsh themes including PTSD, depression, anxiety and grieving, talk of torture and forced captivity, suggestive sexual assault. Other than the violent battle scenes, I found these themes were mostly mentioned or suggested and not necessarily subjecting you to read them (as it is a YA fantasy).
“Night fell as death rode into the Great Library of Summershall. It arrived within a carriage.”
Elisabeth is an orphan who was raised between the magical shelves of Summershall’s Great Library, living each day surrounded by talking books and fatal Wardens sworn to keep the high-class grimoires secured in their iron chains. Elisabeth knows all there is to know about becoming a Warden- it’s all she’s wanted for as long as she can remember. Rule #1: Never provoke a grimoire unless you feel like battling their monstrous forms. Rule #2: Don’t listen to everything you hear in the Great Library; grimoires are manipulative beings. And most importantly: Sorcerers, and their magical influence, are evil and not to be associated with.
Nathaniel Thorn is a powerful sorcerer from a family filled with old magic and tragedies. When he walks into the Great Library of Summershall one day, the last thing he expects is an apprentice trying to flatten him with a bookshelf. But he’s become irrevocably interested in Elisabeth, and his interest is piqued when he finds her standing trial as a prime suspect in a sabotaging her Library.
Elisabeth is innocent, but even the powerful Thorn name cannot protect her from the powerful sorcerers who believe she is guilty. No one will believe there is a conspiracy older than the Libraries itself at play, sucking Elizabeth and Nathaniel spiraling into a circle of untold mysteries and deadly lies.
“Magic, she thought. That is what magic looks like. And then, before she could stop herself, It’s beautiful.”
What starts as an innocent, magical tale of Elisabeth’s life at the Library, quickly turns into a multi-layered story of dark secrets and betrayal. I loved this story so much for it’s ability to grow as our character is faced with adult problems, and for it’s equally character and world driven plot. Elisabeth has always been unique, independent and strong-willed, but we see her transform from a curious child to a young heroine over the course of her story line. She was always in control of her fate and used her knowledge to choose her own path, even though others tried to pressure her.
“I grew up in a Great Library. You may scoff at books, but you have never seen a real book in your entire life, and you should count yourself lucky, because you wouldn’t survive a moment alone with one.”
The world she is thrown into after her sheltered childhood at the library is not kind to women (or people who are different), and reflects our own history of discrimination, manipulation and violence towards them. While Elisabeth has the brains and compassion to do what she knows is right, everything in her world is leading her into obstacle after obstacle. As a tall, average-looking young woman fighting against the powers-at-be, with no magic and no family name and no connections, reading her failures is like a punch in the gut to my emotions since I know there is so much truth to her story. But her successes taste so sweet, it lets us celebrate everything she’s overcome instead of focusing on the flaws.
“Damn you”, he said. “You unmanageable, contrary creature. You have made me believe in something at last. It feels as wretched as I imagined.”
Mixing the historical fiction with the fantastical world created by the author reminds me of Harry Potter- if HP was a girl who was trained his whole life to work in the Hogwarts Library. It is so rare to find a YA fantasy this real, with so many parallels to our problems, with fear and anger and heart-pounding emotion. It was gripping, action filled, and unbelievably immersive. Every question has an answer by the end of the book, the characters are full of dark pasts and spunk, and the writing was so mesmerizing I had chills by the end. The romance is slow and honest, there are hilarious moments and touching moments and moments that make you wish it was all real.
“A whisper ran through the hedge. Then the branches retreated, creating a path to the front door. One gargoyle sank down, and then another, lowering their heads like retainers welcoming the return of their queen.”
I know I love a lot of books, but this one deserves every star and every compliment. I really hope there are more novels in this world!
“She wasn’t a wielder of chains; she was breaker of them. She was the library’s will made flesh.”