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.
I haven’t been doing too well at the moment with books that have been well received, the last few haven’t really hit the spot but Sorcery of Thorns totally changed that! I have the utterly gorgeous Fairyloot edition of this book and the sprayed edges sparkled at every page turn which just added to the magic! I went in knowing that this was a standalone story and the writing benefited from that greatly. Every page was full of action and relevant information, there were no lull’s or points that felt like filler. Sorcery of Thorns had enough story to stretch into a duology but I’m so glad it didn’t because this book was impossible to put down because of how much was crammed onto every page.
The world was every bibliophiles dream, set in and around a number of great libraries, a main character who can communicate with books and the fact that those books can also come alive and respond to kindness and cruelty in the same way a human would. The magic system is simple but works brilliantly and actually isn’t as much of a focal point as you would think. I adored Elisabeth as a protagonist, a child of the library, she is fun and strong and her story arc was so good. There was never a dull moment and I found myself totally captivated and drawn in to the situations she found herself in. Some were difficult to deal with and I felt unsettled by her diagnosis of Hysteria and the somewhat Victorian way of treating such a thing. There was a historical feel to the fantasy which lent itself to the Victoriana which in turn helped me picture the world more vibrantly, especially when the weather became more wintery and I had visions of ice skating on the Thames, however, in this instance with awoken gargoyles prowling the perimeter. There are many moments of wonder woven into the normal day to day which is why I felt that the pace never faltered.
Whilst Nathaniel is full of the usual charm and banter that has come to be the norm in YA Fantasy, I have to take moment to just shout from the rooftops about Silas, a snarky demon companion who may either choose that day to eat you or simply turn into a fluffy white cat instead. His wit and wisdom were the highlight of this story for me. The action is plentiful and written with a great sense of urgency and emotion, I did feel a bit too swept up in the end and made myself go back and re-read pages because even when you think it’s just another action sequence, there are actually pretty integral plot points woven in!
I really enjoyed Sorcery of Thorns, I love that it felt secure enough in itself to not drag out over more than one book and that it’s characters managed to sidestep usual tropes and have that extra bit of spark. I’m definitely going to be reading more by this author though as the writing style was such a great fit for me, I would love to devour more!