Author: Margaret Rogerson
Published in: 2019
Rating: 4 stars
Sorcery of Thorns is a standalone fantasy novel following Elisabeth, a girl who has grown up in a library that houses her kingdom’s grimoires, books full of deadly and spectacular magic. When a grimoire is provoked, turning into a dangerous monster, Elisabeth is accused of the act of sabotage. Whisked off to a trial, she finds herself traveling with Nathaniel Thorn, a sorcerer exactly like the ones Elisabeth has long been taught to fear. Their unlikely partnership, and the strange and beautiful demon to whom Nathaniel has bargained away some of his life, raise questions about all that Elisabeth has been taught. As she digs deeper into who, if not she, truly sabotaged the library, she stumbles upon a conspiracy within her new world.
This work of fantasy is familiar-feeling, but still compelling. It works within common tropes in a beautiful way, filling in the world with rich lore, vivid atmosphere, and interesting characters. Elisabeth proves an excellent narrator, her passion, fierceness, and questioning providing a perfect lens through which to view this world. The romance is slow-burn and sweet, and the playful banter was thoroughly enjoyable. I was also pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the action sequences, which are often hard for me to get into. Nathaniel was probably my favorite character. I loved his humor, his relationship with Silas, his demonic servant, and the fears he had about his past. I have read characters like him before, but he felt particularly well-drawn. I also want to highlight the wonderfully subtle LGBTQ+ representation that the author included. That was unexpected but appreciated. Ultimately, the book satisfyingly fulfilled my wish for escapist, easy-to-read fantasy.
I would recommend this book to a far-reaching range of YA readers. Those with a love for high fantasy will appreciate the nods to classic mythology; Sorcery of Thorns does a particularly good job incorporating various beliefs about demons and the bargains they can strike with humans. Readers newer to the fantasy genre will be drawn in by the low commitment of this book thanks to its standalone nature and its intelligent but not overly complex plot. As a book-lover, I really liked the idea of books that are essentially alive. Some menacing, some fussy, some cheeky, imagining each book as having a distinct personality and various quirks was a lot of fun; I yearned to check out the libraries Rogerson so aptly described. A must-read for everyone missing their libraries or wanting a fantasy novel I think Sorcery of Thorns will find a wide and happy audience.
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