One of the most anticipated releases of this month, «Sorcery of Thorns» by Margaret Rogerson made me fall in love with gigantic libraries, enchanted books, witty sorcerers and one brave apprentice librarian. As I plunged into the story, my reader heart immediately warmed up towards Elisabeth Scrivener, the orphan raised in the Great Library of Summershall, whose only big desire was to become a warden.
She was to be a warden, keeper of books and words. She was their friend. Their steward. Their jailer. And if need be, their destroyer.Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson
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.
Thank you Netgalley and Simon and Schuster UK Children’s for a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own and not influenced by the company or its affiliates in any way.
Elisabeth Scrivener, unlike all other orphans who became apprentice librarians, was raised in the Great Library with the magical tomes and enchanted grimoires. with booklice and numerous cats welcomed by the librarians to aid with rats and other smaller rodents. Taught by the librarians from an early age, she, like many others, despised and feared magic. Completely unaware of the big role that sorcery will play in her life.
WHAT I LIKED:
1 – Many reviewers described «Sorcery of Thorns» as a “love letter to magical libraries”, and as accurate as this phrase describes the feeling of the book, I have to add that it’s not just a love letter to magical libraries, it’s the incarnation of readers’ dreams! There are pages filled with grimoires, secret passages and everyday tasks of librarians, whose most important job is to protect the outside world from the Maleficts (books turned evil) but also to protect the books from perishing and destruction inflicted by people.
This book is not without its flaws, but for this magical setting Margaret Rogerson created I was happy to give this book 4 stars and sign it well-deserved praises.
2 – The magic in this world wasn’t explained in detail (and I wish there would be more magic and less smooching!), but the ideas of magic that we saw were very captivating. The grimoires were divided into ten categories according to how dangerous there were or what information they possessed, with grimoires of level four and higher being able to communicate with the readers. I also loved how some books were given certain personality traits, some were capricious, some impatient.
3 – But the most interesting aspect was the sorcerers and their demons. The sorcerers were believed to be evil, especially by the librarians, who tried to distance themselves from the outside world. The sorcerer’s power was linked to their demons, who they could summon from another dimension. Silas, the demon of the Thorn family, was by far the most intricate and elaborate character. Yes, I liked Elisabeth, but she was naive and very often silly. Yes, I liked Nathaniel Thorn, whose wittiness seemed to know no boundaries. But Silas was the true star of the book! He simultaneously possessed the good traits that I loved him for, and the bad traits that sometimes I couldn’t fit in his image, couldn’t or didn’t want to believe him worse than he appeared to be. And that constant battle within me of “do I like him? should I not like him?” made me very attached to the story and its characters.
Silas seemed to be telling the truth. He wasn’t attempting to disguise the fact that he was evil, only clarifying the nature of his misdeeds.Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE:
1 – As great as this book was about describing libraries and books, it lacked worldbuilding. Or maybe this is me wishing there would be MORE of it. Don’t go into this book expecting some epic fantasy world, because it’s not really there. Margaret Rogerson does show glimpses of a vast territory by (1) having a map at the beginning of the book, (2) talking about the Great Libraries that lay in the opposite sides of this Kingdom – Summershall, Knockfeld, Harros, Fettering, Fairwater, and (3) presenting a few elements of comparison between the center, the capital of the Kingdom, and the life in the smaller towns that lay close to the Summershall library.
I wanted so much more! As of right now, this book is a stand-alone, I can only hope that Margaret Rogerson decides to turn it into a series and we get to learn more about the world, about its magic and about the inner workings and secret passages of all libraries!
2 – The book felt a incomplete not only because of world-building but also due to the fact that Margaret Rogerson didn’t want to commit to various topics she brushed over. At least that’s the feeling I got. She mentioned the close-mindedness of older generations, the need for political change, the women’s place in this society, but neither of these topics was developed. Just mentioned quickly one or two times and then left alone.
…that the world wasn’t kind to young women, especially when they behaved in ways men didn’t like…
3 – Before I wrap this up, I have to mention the main characters – Nathaniel Thorn and Elisabeth Scrivener. I liked them, I really did. But I was slightly disappointed by the progression of Nathaniel’s character.
In the very beginning of the book, in the first scene that Nathaniel appears, I loved this veil of mystery around him. How he was this great sorcerer, people should be afraid of. Someone who could wreak havoc and destruction. But who was also funny and sarcastic.
Turns out, that Elisabeth’s character was much stronger because by the middle of the book she outshone Nathaniel by far. He stopped appearing as “one of the main characters” and claimed his spot as Elisabeth’s side-kick.
4 – Also, one last remark, how many times did we need to read that Elisabeth is tall?! I get it, she is very unusually tall. Poor thing didn’t get any respite from the constant ”I’m not surprised. She’s enormous! Have you ever seen a girl so tall?”
WHAT DID YOU THINK ABOUT «SORCERY OF THORNS»? DID YOU READ ANY OTHER MARGARET ROGERSON BOOKS?
LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS DOWN BELOW!