- Hardcover: 464 pages
- Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (June 4, 2019)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1481497618
- ISBN-13: 978-1481497619
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 83 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,538 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Sorcery of Thorns Hardcover – June 4, 2019
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From School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-In her second novel, Rogerson proves herself a worthy successor to Diana Wynne Jones in this moody, atmospheric, and lively classic fantasy. Elisabeth was raised in a magical library, providing her with limitless book smarts but very little life experience. Her well-intentioned actions have disastrous consequences, and she is sent away from her beloved home. She finds unlikely allies in Nathaniel, a handsome sorcerer, and his mysterious servant, Silas. They come to realize that their personal troubles are small parts of a much wider conspiracy and their particular skills may be the only hope to stop the bad guys. Elisabeth is a winning protagonist who believably transitions from naive ingenue to determined heroine without sacrificing her earnest, bookish nature. As in her debut, Rogerson skillfully evokes a fairy tale-tinged adventure with grounded, real stakes. VERDICT This enchanting story is sure to appeal to teen readers eager for more of the world-building, fierce friendships, and feminist heroines of Robin LaFevers and Naomi Novik.-Ann Foster, Saskatoon Public Library, Sask.α(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
"If you are looking for magic you will find it inside this book. Sorcery of Thorns is a bewitching gem, full of slow burning romance, loyal friendships, and extraordinary world building. I absolutely loved every moment of this story." Source: Stephanie Garber, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Caraval series.
"If you loved the Hogwarts Library, or the Great Library of the Clayr, you'll be right at home at Summershall. Tightly paced, hugely atmospheric, with a touch of wry humor, this book had me from its Gothic beginning right to the perfect end." Source: Katherine Arden, author of The Bear and the Nightingale
"Brimming with twisty enchantment, Sorcery of Thorns is Margaret Rogerson at her most playfully addictive. The heir apparent to Diana Wynne Jones, no one can match her dark whimsy or joyous magic. This book is sheer delight." Source: Jessica Cluess, author of the Kingdom on Fire trilogy
“Like the grimoires that fill its pages, Sorcery of Thorns lives, breathes, and beckons you closer with each enchanting word. This is classic fantasy at its very best.” Source: Julie C. Dao, author of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns
* "An enthralling adventure replete with spellbinding characters, a slow-burning love story, and a world worth staying lost in." Source: Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"Rogerson proves herself a worthy successor to Diana Wynne Jones in this moody, atmospheric, and lively classic fantasy...This enchanting story is sure to appeal to teen readers eager for more of the world-building, fierce friendships, and feminist heroines of Robin LaFevers and Naomi Novik." Source: School Library Journal
"A frothy fantasy of manners with plenty of substance and heart that will appeal to fans of Garth Nix (Newt’s Emerald, BCCB 1/16) and Wrede and Stevermer’s Sorcery and Cecelia." Source: BCCB
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Rogerson proved what a great world builder she was in her debut An Enchantment of Ravens. In her sophomore novel she once again impresses. Every setting is vividly drawn from the Gothic and ominous library vaults to the enchanting and mysterious Thorn Manor. Even the small glimpses we get of the Otherworld feel fully formed, readers peeking into a universe whole and dark, yet undeniably alluring. Booklovers will be in rapture of Rogerson’s magical world, where books speak and have mercurial personalities. The most dangerous whisper words of temptation, taking in the weak-minded and manipulating them. Dark sorcery of the past gifted the world with grimoires, but produced grotesque tomes made from human parts. And when one of these books is damaged, it sets free a monster capable of killing all in its path.
Though Elisabeth has grown up surrounded by all the knowledge books contain, her world is very small. She learns that not everything is black and white. That it is not magic that can corrupt, but greed and power. She’s a brave heroine with just the right amount of recklessness, making you cheer, but also keeping you on the edge of your seat. Nathaniel makes the perfect love interest, he is mysterious but sardonic enough not to come across as too rigid. Much of who he is has been defined by the mistakes of his ancestors, making him a reluctant ally. Elisabeth becomes a catalyst for change in him, forcing him to finally confront the nightmares of his past. Nathaniel is also bisexual, which is something I still find really refreshing since male bisexual characters as so rare. Sorcery of Thorns also has a great pair of minor characters. Katrien, Elisabeth’s best friend, though she doesn’t get a lot of page time, is her equal in curiosity and propensity for trouble. I wouldn’t mind a companion novel devoted to her. But it’s Nathaniel’s demon servant Silas who stole my entire heart. He has been more of a friend and caretaker to Nathaniel, though it goes completely against his nature to care. He is complicated and dangerous and yet still comes across as the kindest of all the characters.
Sorcery of Thorns is a lush fantasy which will cast a spell on readers and its surprisingly unrelenting action scenes will have you racing to the end.
The characters and setting are interesting and enjoyable to unravel, as well as the important themes and motifs (I loved all the books-as-sentient-beings parts, and the importance ascribed to libraries without the stuffy and stodgy librarian who shushes everyone). I do feel a bit more time could have been spent introducing and ingratiating characters’ personalities to the reader (e.g. Katrien and Stefan’s shenanigans, or Nathaniel’s social interactions before Elisabeth shows up). However, the story is definitely more plot-driven, so this is not a necessity (more just my own character-nosiness).
Great use of existing mythologies/occult practices and new ideas to build this world; I loved the subtext of power dynamics in servant-master relationships, as well as whether the choices and aims of our youth are transferable to our adult selves. Also loved the tongue-in-cheek, blasé references to dark and dangerous situations (see Nathaniel’s quips or the higher-classed grimoires’ tricks).
Would definitely recommend to other fantasy readers.
All included quotes have been taken from an ARC and may not match the finished publication.
Content Warning: Death, Summoning
"If she does not suffer from the lack of company, I fear it is because she sees grimoires as her friends in place of people."
If there were ever a book to warm a book lover’s heart, Sorcery of Thorns would certainly be one to do so! Do you like a book about books? Well, look no further. Not only is Sorcery of Thorns brimming with magic, sorcery, demons, and the like, but books--grimoires to be specific--take front and center.
Elisabeth Scrivener (an ironic name, no less), was raised in the great library. Having been taken in as a orphan, she grew more accustomed to books than people. What I noticed shortly into this read was that, while Elisabeth always remains front and center, the weight shifts from her to another character. This shift takes place about halfway through the story, and gives a sort of disjointed feel in the story’s arc. I did like, however, that the story wasn’t all about the main character. It felt similar to how Brienna in The Queen’s Rising and it’s sequel is stationed.
Besides Elisabeth, Nathaniel and Silas are the other more prominent characters found in the story. Nathaniel, a sorcerer, and Silas his...aid...become entangled with Elisabeth when a grimoire is disturbed and breaks free from the library, wreaking havoc. Elisabeth, sworn to protect the world from these monstrous books, sets out to stop the creature, but is blamed for the entire incident. This leads to an investigation of the library, and in turn, uncovers a deadly plot that a powerful figure has in mind. In order to stop more bad from happening, Elisabeth begins to question what she has grown up knowing, and if this knowledge is actually the truth.
This story represents how we may grow up knowing one thing, but that doesn’t exactly make it true or the right thing. Furthermore, the idea that something is only black or white, good or evil, is challenged and dissected.
"He wasn’t attempting to disguise the fact that he was evil, only clarifying the nature of his misdeeds. Strangely, that made her feel that she could trust him, in this matter at least."
This, in particular, is represented by (my favorite aspect of this entire book) Silas’ character. He’s complex, mysterious, and allegorical. Beautifully written, his character brings about its own unexpected difficulties with his upfrontness and honesty. While the reader is told he is one way, one hopes that he’ll magically change his nature. But he can’t. What I thought was so interesting, and applaud-worthy, was how Rogerson wove so many ideas into one. I like how she kept many typical ideas about demons (i.e. they are bad, their service requires a grave cost, they aren’t human, etc.) and used it to further the complexity of her story.
Despite the majority of what I liked, two things stood out to me that caused issue. First is the world-building. While there were some details given, there could, and should have been so much more included in the setting. I felt that I could figure out where I located, but the surroundings were murky and not instrumental in any way. Secondly, that odd shift halfway through the book that I mentioned earlier simply didn’t sit well with me. I believe it is because the plot progression also slows quite a bit at this point, and makes the read disjointed. Even with these issues, however, I really enjoyed this story. The characters, the topics, and how they all interacted was engaging, and very enjoyable.
Sexual content: Kissing only.
Violence: Moderate, but with minimal gore.
My Rating: ★★★★