Publication: June 4th 2019 by Margaret K. McElderry Books Pages: 456 Purchase: Waterstones | Book Depository 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.
When terrible things have happened to you, sometimes the promise of something good can be just as frightening.
Sorcery of Thorns has been on my radar for a while. Initially, when I read the synopsis, I wasn’t entirely fussed about picking it up. However, after seeing a lot of positive reviews, and after seeing the beautiful cover over and over, I finally decided to give it a go.
I was immediately hooked by Margaret Rogerson’s detailed and flowing writing style. The opening chapter was the perfect introduction to the whimsical world within this novel, setting up the story in an interesting and intriguing way. I loved the magic system in Sorcery of Thorns — with magic only being possible through great sacrifice — and the premise of books with thoughts and feelings, capable of turning into monsters, was really unique and fascinating to read about.
Rogerson’s characters were also a delight. Elisabeth was a very relatable main character, and her strength, bravery and loyalty were admirable. She was both fierce and endearing, always willing to fight for the people and things she cared about most. I really liked how sure of herself she was, as well. It’s always nice to read about a female main character who stands her ground and sticks to her beliefs, no matter what sort of trouble they are likely to get her into.
And then there was Nathaniel Thorn.
I have not loved a romantic interest in a novel as much as I loved Nathaniel Thorn since first reading Sarah J. Maas’ A Court of Thorns in Roses series. Nathaniel was hilarious, with a nonchalant attitude to pretty much every situation the characters found themselves in throughout the course of this novel — which made me laugh out loud on several occasions. However, beneath his light-hearted exterior, Nathaniel was a deep, multi-faceted character with a heart-wrenching backstory, and that just made him all the more lovable.
The secondary characters were also all really well-fleshed out — Silas, in particular, whose journey was one of my favourite aspects of the entire novel.
What struck me most, though, was that the further I got into Sorcery of Thorns, the more I found myself thinking of Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. That’s not to say that Rogerson’s novel was incredibly similar — just that it had that same magical feeling in every single page, as well as wonderfully written and hysterical banter and a slow-burn romance between the main characters. Howl’s Moving Castle is one of my favourite novels of all time — so I think, to compare Rogerson’s novel to it, says everything about how much I loved this one.
My only issue with Sorcery of Thorns was that I didn’t feel the ending was quite as enjoyable as the beginning. I still loved this novel as a whole though, and the epilogue was great, so it was a minor grievance in the grand scheme of things.
I haven’t been as enchanted by a young adult novel as I was by Sorcery of Thorns in a very long time. It was an absolute joy to read, and I think it’s going to be a really hard act to follow for the next book on my reading list. Highly recommended!
She wasn’t a wielder of chains; she was a breaker of them. She was the library’s will made flesh.
— Shaunna x