Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson // Demonic Servants, Living Books, & Sorcerers

Ink and parchment flowed through her veins. The magic of the Great Libraries lived in her very bones. They were a part of her, and she a part of them.

In previous posts, I’ve alluded to the fact that Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson is my favorite book of the year so far. A lot of the commenters on those posts expressed how excited they were to read my full review of Sorcery of Thorns–and to read the book itself–so here is my (hopefully) much-awaited review of it.

I originally wasn’t supposed to read Sorcery of Thorns, but I a) won a giveaway and decided that Sorcery of Thorns was the book I wanted to read the most out of all the books I could choose from, and b) heard amazing things about it.

I’ve heard some negative things amidst the numerous positives things, but I personally fell in love with this book.

I consider it to be Howl’s Moving Castle, but with a more 2019 YA fantasy twist to it–aka, less weird and nonsensical. (Which isn’t a fault against Howl’s Moving Castle because I love how whimsical it is.)

In Sorcery of Thorns, we follow Elisabeth Scrivener, who grew up in the Great Library of Summershall. Elisabeth is accused of tampering with a grimoire to turn it into a monster, when in fact, she was the one who took the initiative to kill it. She’s escorted by a sorcerer named Nathaniel and his demon servant Silas to stand trial for her supposed crime.

But circumstances force Elisabeth and Nathaniel to team up. And they initially don’t click, which leads to lots of fun banter, but the two of them, along with Silas, come to form a delightful bond.

The plot of Sorcery of Thorns is classic YA fantasy. It’s about a girl with something special about her, who comes to defeat evil. But I think that Rogerson got all of the fluffy, magical and wholesome parts of this typical story-line to star in her book, while also subverting a few of the tropes that come with it.

ELISABETH, NATHANIEL AND SILAS ARE MY BABIES. I LOVE THEM SO MUCH. I WILL PROTECT. If doing so wouldn’t annoy you into clicking away, I would type in all caps whenever I talk about one of them!!

I’m sure we’ve all read about the stubborn and strong-willed heroine. But this was a case of a trope being done well and given depth. Elisabeth, like all the other characters in this story, was well-rounded, and she stood out among the many other characters who fit her archetype. I also love two things about her:

  • She’s tall!!! My tall girl heart is so happy right now 😎
  • Even though there’s something about her that’s different™, the explanation for it is logical, interesting, and honestly a little funny. The fact that Elisabeth is special is also not highlighted so much to the point that it becomes annoying.

This was Elisabeth’s purpose. Not to become a warden in the hopes of proving herself to people who would never understand. She wasn’t a wielder of chains; she was a breaker of them. She was the library’s will made flesh.

Then we have Nathaniel, who does fit into the brooding love interest trope, but not to the extent that he becomes abusive or annoying. Rather, he’s just a normal teenage boy (That’s right! No creepy thousand-year-old immortal sorcerer falling for a teenager here), who sometimes doesn’t deal with his feelings in a healthy way.

Silas, on the other hand, is my favorite of the three main characters, which isn’t said lightly because I LOVE ALL THREE OF THEM SO MUCH.

If any of you have a thing for demon servants who are perfect at everything–cooking, cleaning, fighting, transforming into a cat–read this book. He’s indentured to Nathaniel, and has been indentured to Nathaniel’s ancestors for a long time, because in exchange for his service, he will feed on the life force of his master once they die.

Silas commits many actions of selflessness for Nathaniel throughout the book, which leads us readers and Elisabeth to believe that he’s come to care for his master, despite the fact that demons aren’t supposed to have feelings. Only for him to explain why what he did actually worked in his favor and had nothing to do with affection. But then… THE ENDING HAPPENS.

The setting of this book closely resembles 19th century London (I don’t know my history okay). It calls to mind books like The Infernal Devices. Which is why I would describe this book as Howl’s Moving Castle and The Infernal Devices rolled into one.

We’re given enough information about the magic system to know what’s going on, but that’s all. This is partly because the main character isn’t a magic user, but also because explaining the magic system would probably bog the story down too much.

“You used a demonic incantation to pack my stockings!”

He raised an eyebrow. “You’re right, that doesn’t sound like something a proper evil sorcerer would do. Next time, I won’t fold them.”

But all sorcerers have colors that correspond to their magic, and Nathaniel’s is green. I absolutely love the color green. It’s my favorite color (in case you couldn’t tell from my blog). And that little detail made me so happy!!

This book also features living books. Tomes that have feelings, personalities and hobbies!! It’s every book lover’s dream!!!

I’ll admit that Margaret Rogerson’s writing isn’t Sorcery of Thorns’ strongest point, but I commend it for carrying the story well and providing a solid foundation for the plot and characters to be built on.


5 stars

Have you read Sorcery of Thorns? Do you want to read it?

More about the book

Publication date: June 4th 2019

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Age group & genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Rep: Bisexual love interest, aromantic side character, PoC coded side character (described as having dark skin)


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.
Content Warningsanxiety depiction, talk of loss of a loved one, captivity, violence

*I am a book depository affiliate, and will receive a small commission with no additional cost to you if you buy through my link. As I am a teen book blogger based internationally, the extra money would be a great help.

It’s been a long time since I’ve written a review, and though I forgot how hard it is to convert all your feelings about a book into words, I’m so happy to have finally posted a review after what feels like ages! By the way, this was a failed buddy read with Saoudia, because I read a few pages of this book and couldn’t resist continuing on. Sorry, Saoudia!


42 thoughts on “Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson // Demonic Servants, Living Books, & Sorcerers

  1. Oh my gosh, I LOVE this book, so glad that you enjoyed it. I’m really just starting to get into fantasy books but this was just a perfect read for me. Silas is absolutely terrifying but also the cutest little demon going! Plus, the books are alive…could it get any better really?!

    Great review 💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad that you loved it too, and that we can gush about it together!! Personally, fantasy has always been my absolute fave for a long time, and even though this had a lot of fantasy tropes, I loved it SO MUCH.

      Haha, that’s what I love about Silas—and other characters that fit his archetype. I adore juxtapositions like that! I KNOW. I just really wanna live in this world so that I can hang out with Elisabeth, Nathaniel and Silas, and also meet some living books 😣

      Thank you :))

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I would be lying if I said that I hadn’t been waiting for this review since your latest wrap-up post 😍😍😍

    Not gonna lie when I first saw this cover, it reminded me a lot of the ACOTAR books so I was hesitant about picking it up, but I love how you talked about the story adapting the tropes into a way that was well done with additional depth. I’m really excited for the love interest too. (thank goodness for no 10000 year old x teenager trope) I typically don’t associate fantasies with being super wholesome, but I’m super excited now, especially since I love the setting for The Infernal Devices ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tiffany ahh YOU FLATTER ME 🥰🥰 ily

      Lmao it really does look like an SJM book, but I promise it’s wayyyy less horrible 🙊 I was so happy when Nathaniel said that he was 18. I do not get the thousand year old falling for a teenager trope.

      Me too, but this was pretty fluffy, and you kinda know that it’s all gonna be okay even though the story has stakes and I love it. It has so many TID comparisons actually—it’s very hard to enumerate

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello, Howl’s Moving Castle plus the Infernal Devices??? I think you’ve sold me on this book. Everything you said about this book makes me want to pick it up more – magical libraries and subverting tropes and awesome heroines and sweet love interests! Definitely gotta pick this up soon 😀 Great review!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I can’t wait to read this one!
    I have been dying to get my hands on a copy, and will definitely be ordering this soon!
    Thank you for the amazing review, after hearing you talk about it so much, I’m glad to be able to see all your thoughts together in one place!

    – Emma 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a fantastic review, Caitlin. I’ve heard so much about this book lately and it sounds like the kind of read I’d really enjoy, I’m so intrigued by this world and its characters and THE LIVING BOOKS I mean, I need to read this. Fantastic review! ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  6. THIS IS SUCH A GREAT REVIEW!!! i already love the book and i havent read it, pls pass on your reviewing abilities that would be great. so basically, i have to love silas and elisabeth, right? i seriously can’t wait to read it and your review made me so much more excited for it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. THANK YOU MAY! 😭💕 asdffnfndnfd I kinda just blaaaarghh all my feelings out when I write reviews IDK, but *fumbles over self because this may be the best compliment I’ve received ever*

      YES. especially Silas he is my baby who I will protect (nvm that he’s centuries old and can more than protect himself.) I hope you can read this book soon!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I got this one from the publisher back when it came out, and I’m ashamed to say I haven’t picked it up yet. I hadn’t read the author’s first book, and I was debating if I needed to read that one first (I haven’t been able to quite figure out if they’re actually related or not?). But this review makes me eager to read this one. You’ve convinced me to dive in!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ahh, that’s so sad, but it’s amazing that you got this from the publisher!

      Oh, you don’t need to! The books are completely unrelated and both standalones. I’m so glad that I convinced you to read Sorcery of Thorns, and I hope that you can get to it soon!


  8. I am so excited to read a review for this book as I was meant to start reading it a week ago (or something I’ve lost track of time… again) but I have done no reading!! I think I am in a *dramatic whisper* reading slump but I have been focusing on listening to my podcast so maybe after I have finished that I will pick this up and now I am even more excited to read it after hearing your thoughts.
    Yay it has fun banter– I love it!! And I think when tropes are done well they can be perfection *chefs kiss* after all there was a reason they were done so much to begin with. And yes tall girls need more appreciation so I am excited for that!!
    I’m glad for the green appreciation as I love it as it is my favourite colour to have on book covers and this is probably bad to admit but I have brought books just because they are green!!
    I love reading this review and I am so excited to read this book now so thank you– you might have just rescued me from my reading slump!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ahh, reading slump be gone!! I hope it goes away soon, so you can read this book and gush about it with me hehe
      I LOVE TALL GIRLS IN BOOKS. it makes me feel so validated. plus, i feel like most girls in books are short—maybe so that they can have a cute height difference with their love interest—but tall girls are POWERFUL okay
      no, it’s not bad at all! I hope those books were as beautiful on the outside as they are on the inside! i may be biased, but green is a beautiful color to put on a book. have you seen the cover of Emerald Green by Kiersten Gier (i think that’s how you spell her name)? It’s SO BEAUTIFUL, and SO GREEN.
      Thank you so much!! i think this book is perfect for a reading slump because it’s so so easy to read!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thankfully I am think I am seeing the back of the reading slump now!! I am 135 pages into this book and really enjoying it!!
        Yes I agree it is really common to have small girls in books (quite possibly for the height difference thing) but tall girls are incredible!! I have one in the book I am writing!! haha!!
        Yes I have enjoyed reading my green books!! haha!! Green is amazing– I just had a look and I love it!! It is green heaven!! I am a big fan!!
        I agree it is easy to read and I am hoping to finish it by Friday (which is pretty fast for me)!!

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Wonderful review, Caitlin!! Oooh, you are making me more excited than ever to read this one. I keep seeing more and more fantastic reviews for this book, and I’m just sitting here, wondering how on earth I haven’t read it yet! Also, I legit laughed out loud when I read “(That’s right! No creepy thousand-year-old immortal sorcerer falling for a teenager here)”! Hahaha!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Kelly 💜 You’re making ME more excited for you to read this! I’ve seen a lot of amazing reviews too, and I can’t wait for you to pick this up, but definitely no pressure!

      HAHAHA. I’m glad that I was able to make you laugh! I’m just kind of tired of that trope because I think that the age gap could easily be erased, and nothing would change!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Caitlin!! This is such a good review?! I love when you love a book because I feel like it makes your reviews so fun and enjoyable to read!! I think I added this book to my TBR a few weeks back (maybe??) but now I’m even more interested so I’m going to have to double check and if it’s not there, it definitely will be now!! Also, I am so glad you pointed out that Nathaniel is regular teen boy and not an ancient, creepy man falling for someone in their teens. I hateee reading that in books! Like, who told an author that that was ever OK!?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!! Ahh, I feel the same way with positive reviews! Negative reviews can also be fun to read, but I just really like it when people talk about things they love.

      I know!! I just don’t get why authors write ridiculous age gaps into their books because there’s literally no point?! Nathaniel was just a teenager, but his romance with Elisabeth has the exact same effect!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Positive reviews are just THE best. Negative reviews can offer a lot of critique and be really helpful, too, but I feel like people enjoy writing positive reviews so much more and it really shows in the review!

        Yeah, age gaps are… not it for me. I don’t really know why authors include that in their books because it’s honestly never a good idea? At least not with minors. I mean, if it’s two adults, that’s different. I don’t even really notice the age gap then. But with minors, I hateee it.

        Liked by 1 person

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