Sabriel by Garth Nix
Author: Garth Nix. Website, Twitter
Published: 6 May 2003 (Harper Collins Children's Books)
Book Depository: paperback|audio
Source: Bought from a charity shop.
Plot Summary (from Goodreads):
For many years Sabriel has lived outside the walls of the Old Kingdom, away from the random power of Free Magic, and away from the Dead who won't stay dead. But now her father, the Charter-Mage Abhorsen, is missing, and to find him Sabriel must cross back into that world.
I picked up this book up not knowing much about it. I'd heard of Garth Nix and wanted to read more fantasy so it was an impulse buy based on that. I've had it sitting on my shelves for ages and picked it up a few times, but I'd never really felt in the mood for this kind of book. Feeling like now was the right time to read it, I dove in. Sabriel is a necromancer, daughter of the powerful Abhorsen. When her father ends up in trouble he sends a message to Sabriel, who must set out on a quest to find him.
I think the reason I'd been put off when I'd picked it up in the past were the opening few pages. They didn't really grab me, but I soon discovered that this was just a prologue. Once I got into the main part of the story I found myself more interested. I liked the opening, discovering the magical world the book takes place in. Sabriel has the power to reach into death and bring people back from the dead, and can sense death around her. It was a great premise that hooked me in.
I was a bit disappointed when I realised that we weren't going to see more of the school which is the setting at the beginning of the story. I love magic school stories and it seemed like Wyverly College, where Sabriel attends and hones her magic, had a lot of potential. Nevertheless, I was intrigued by the idea of her quest. The pace suffered a bit when Sabriel was alone because there was pages and pages with no dialogue but once she met up with Mogget, a spirit housed in a talking white cat, things picked up again.
The second half of the book was where I started to lose interest. Fantasy can be quite dense sometimes and I found myself a bit in over my head when it came to some of the finer details of the world. I don't think this was helped by the fact I found the writing to be a bit clunky. I was put off the plot when some romantic elements were introduced which just made me flat out cringe. Several plot points bugged me by just being far too convenient as well. The point of view switched perspective between characters a few times at completely random points which was a bit annoying.
The ending did pull it back a little and it built to a great climax. I'm still undecided whether I'll look up the sequel. Part of me wants to know what happens but I just don't know if this series is for me. Overall it wasn't the most enjoyable read. It had a lot of potential, though. A disappointing 2 stars for me.
What to read next: Lirael by Garth Nix, book 2 in the Abhorsen trilogy
Books like this: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa, Mister Monday by Garth Nix