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.
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
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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!