My rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Published: June 4th, 2019
Trigger Warnings: Loss of a loved one, PTSD nightmares, violence, anxiety and threats of being institutionalized.
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. – Synopsis from Goodreads.
“It was always wise to be polite to books, whether or not they could hear you.”
Eek! I took shamefully long to read this book because not only did one of my good friend Samm (I love her) score the physical arc for me, but it was one of my top three most anticipated this year. I’m so glad I wasn’t disappointed!
Margaret’s debut novel, Enchantment of Ravens, was really polarizing for many. You either loved it or were really unimpressed. I personally adored it and thought it read like a beautiful, sweet fairy tale. Sorcery of Thorns has an entirely different feel and if you weren’t a huge fan of her first – don’t worry. I have seen so many people who weren’t a fan of her first book, give this book five stars and so much praise.
This book is honestly a reader’s dream – it’s literally all about books and protecting them with your life. The story starts in a library with our main character, Elisabeth is studying to become a Warden – which is someone who basically gives up their lives in order to protect the grimoires (books) that live inside the library. You might be thinking this is because they don’t want people using the magic inside, I mean that is the trope we see so often – but no. It’s protecting everyone from the actual grimoires. All the books have very distinct personalities and abilities. Some are incredibly dangerous and must be kept safe – the only people who are meant to use these are sorcerers. If the books get out of hand they can actually transform into a kind of creature that is a whole other level of scary.
Elisabeth has lived at the library her entire life, it’s a part of her but most people see her as an odd bird and steer clear of her. Her mentor has a soft spot for her though. The story really gets off its feet when one of the higher-level books is transformed into a creature and kills her mentor and Elisabeth is blamed for her murder. Enter Nathaniel and Silas. Nathanial comes to get Elisabeth to escort her to her trial, but a lot of crazy stuff happens in between the library and the courthouse and the adventure takes quite a turn and adventure ensues.
I really love the chemistry between Elisabeth and Nathanial – it’s slow-burning and I swoon a little whenever he calls her a “menace” – yes that hate to love trope is going strong here and we get some amazing banter back and forth between these two. I completely ship this relationship and it felt so authentic and just natural. Love everything about it – pacing on point. We also have Silas – who is Nathanial’s servant, who just happens to be a demon that gives him his magic in return for twenty years of his life. Silas is the star in this book for me, he is the heart of the story and I can’t even express my love for this demon. He’s not just a wise-cracking, little side-kick – he’s caring and intelligent and just wonderful. Honestly, I’d be tempted to trade twenty years to have a Silas in my life too. I don’t want to say much more about him because his story is such a treat to watch unfold.
Overall this story is quite a dark fantasy with a very strong and capable female lead. The villain is horrible – he feels a little too real and will give you some scary political vibes – current. The stuff he is dabbling in no joke – chills just thinking about it. Sorcery of Thorns is a stand-alone and there will not be a sequel. I’m happy about that because I think it ended perfectly. It made me cry and then it made me smile – I’m good with it. However, Margaret has hinted that there may be a companion novel someday – maybe even a Silas novel – now that I could get behind.