I group read Sorcery of Thorns finally and was able to chat about it finally. I valued the group’s perspective and it helped me put my finger on how I felt about the book too. P.S. I read 6 whole books off my shelves this month!!
This is a great YA fantasy that had lots of YA inconsistencies. I’m trying not to think about it too hard
Bookish Quick Facts:
- Title: Sorcery of Thorns
- Series: n/a
- Author: Margaret Rogerson
- Publisher & Release: Margaret K. McElderry Books – June 2019
- Length: 464 pages
- Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟🌟 for YA Fantasy fans and books about books
Here’s the synopsis via GoodReads:
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.
Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire, and Elisabeth is implicated in the crime. 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.
Alright so overall, without over thinking this, I enjoyed it for the most part as a YA fantasy. It’s mostly fast paced with plenty of action, magic books, and demons who are the best characters.
It’s a magical gaslight era fantasy where books are living things with breakable hearts and women aren’t held in very high regard. Sorcery has a bad reputation, as do grimoires, and the main theme of the book is about uncovering the nature of things despite their appearances or what society says. Knowledge is power – a great YA theme.
The characters are… Ok. Elisabeth is literally a strong, tall, hard to kill woman, and Rogerson avoided MarySue-ing her by not bringing other girls into the picture in comparison. Her special traits ended up having a feasible explanation.
Nathaniel is supposed to be a typically dark, brooding man, but even in completely inappropriate situations (danger, levity, middle of a battle) he always seems flippant and ready to banter. He did have some extremely serious moments but then would snap out of it real quick and I mean heck he just wasn’t believable 90% of the time.
The banter was funny though, like legitimately funny so it’s hard for me to layer this enjoyable comic dialogue over some of the scenes it was occurring during. The dark scenes at night though – ok, ok, there were some good ones.
Now I’m joining everyone else who thought Silas saved the day entirely. All my highlights were Silas related. If for no other reason besides magic books, read the book for Silas.
P.S. hello we have another Garth Nix copycat. Silas in cat form and Silas in general really reminded me of Mogget. Can anyone think of a white cat/demon/magic familiar before Mogget? I can’t for sure, but can name about 5 since!
I also didn’t love the sorcery magic but the demon to owner magic was cool, and, omg the books. If you’re not reading for Silas, read for the books. Books and atmosphere. Rogerson loves atmosphere and went over the line at times with purple prose, but sometimes I enjoyed it.
Anyway – I did the positives first, now let me do the negatives. I docked a star because while it was super YA even in the most serious moments – or most of them anyway – the characters went from like two quick kisses, to clothes off, mad quick, in a gaslight fantasy era where I’m sure Elisabeth would have had reservations.
Gaslight – think stagecoaches and insane asylums and women being diagnosed as insane because they read books. Which then becomes SUPER INCONSISTENT because some of the library directors are women, as are lots of the apprentices and wardens and librarians. Now we know the libraries aren’t cut off from social prejudice because they don’t like sorcerers, but they randomly allow women in while a huge point was made elsewhere that women were treated …. poorly. It is the biggest plothole inconsistency ever. Plus it’s apparently totally cool for Elisabeth to just live with Nathaniel and ignore all social norms, right lol.
Sooo I’m trying hard to stick with 4 stars and not overthink this because I did enjoy it while reading. I didn’t love it but for a YA audience I think it’s a good bet