Wednesday, March 18, 2020

REVIEW: Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

Title: Sorcery of Thorns
Author: Margaret Rogerson
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderberry
Release Date: June 4, 2019
Acquired: Purchased for my collection
Goodreads: ADD

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.

I will never deny you, book about books. Come to me in all of your forms and genres, and I will read you until the end of my days. Sorcery of Thorns was a book about books that weren't quite books, and that's where the disastrous adventure begins. In the vein of A Curse So Dark and Lonely, it was a narrative that handed us a heroine who at first seemed unlikely, but quickly became the embodiment of strength and resilience.

Elisabeth is a Great Library apprentice, which holds responsibilities that she has prepped almost her entire life for, and, after recent events, one that she definitely didn't: saving her entire kingdom from complete destruction. When one of the more dangerous "books" (or grimoires) escapes from the library, transforming into the living embodiment of the books' contents, Elisabeth is the only one to notice. After discovering her director murdered, she is then the one who destroys it. Her act of extreme bravery backfires when she is accused of the murder, and sent away to face trial by the 'Magisterium'. Her escort turns out to be Nathanial, a witty sorcerer she had a chance encounter with previously, and his mysterious and sly servant, Silas. With more attacks on the rise, can she trust this pair to help clear her name and expose the real culprit, or is she being led to her ultimate end?

I read this on the heels of another kingdom-saving narrative, so it was impossible not to initially compare the two. Though Sorcery of Thorns was quick to set itself apart with it's darker atmosphere, and complex characters. As a rogue standalone fantasy, it was dense in some areas, but rightly so, as to ensure a fully-fleshed story; a story that needed to end where, and how, it ended. Nathaniel was appropriately troubled, and Silas, magnificently flawed yet so compulsively likable—I could read an entire book about him, to be honest. I would have loved to read more of a backstory on Elisabeth, more moments from her youth and growing up as a 'true child of the library,' subsequently lending more belief to what we eventually discover about her.

My brain literally couldn't comprehend that there wasn't a book two, I was in spectacular awe of Rogerson's ability to write such an emotionally charged last chapter, and just leave it to simmer in our hearts; ignore the pressures of turning fantastic into a drawn out 3-5 book ordeal (not that I would have been against that, just saying). Regardless, Sorcery of Thorns is a book that is easily imagined, filled with cavernous castles, well-explained magic, and characters that are incredibly easy to become obsessed with. 

Read if you like:

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones
Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

Key themes: 
magic, sorcery, betrayal, romance, friendship, heroism



CLICK HERE to read about Margaret on her author page.


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