Title: Sorcery of Thorns
Author: Margaret Roberson
Release date: 13 June 2019 (UK)
E.S.C.A.P.E Score: 50
(see breakdown below)
I received a free eARC copy from Simon and Schuster UK, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
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
It can’t be missed that the blurb is a fantasy bookworms dream! An MC that is brought up in a magical library filled with dangerous Grimoires that chatter from their shelves in attempts to lure the misguided into trouble. Give me a book about buildings filled with books and add magic into the mix and I am sold.
The blurb doesn’t disappoint. The world captivated me from the first page. There was an amazingly dark atmosphere that really captured the danger of the grimoires and the reasons for requirement for battle hardy iron sword wielding librarians to look after them. This continues throughout the book expanding into various areas such as the glimmering gaudy aspects of court to the darker elements of sorcery. I adored the world building. There was so much lore that developed over the whole book. This is combined with an established magic system that allowed for some very interesting relationships to be explored throughout the tale.
The characters were just as well developed. Elisabeth was a great main character, she was confident when in her area of knowledge and brave but not to the point where she fell into the chosen one troupe of suddenly being good at everything. She is awkward and out of place when outside of libraries. There is just a spark about her that made me happily follow her as she charged into things. I think what really drew me to her is she was willing to question what she had been taught when contrary evidence was presented to her. She always sought out evidence to build her opinions on and a lot of the time she occupied a middle ground of continually questioning.
I have to admit I fell for Nathanial Thorn, the eponymous Sorcerer, almost immediately. I am always a sucker for the sassy talking handsome stranger with the deeply troubled and sensitive soul that is thinly vailed by his suave confidence. This is a very common hate-to-love troupe done well. I feel this was because he was paired with the stoic and quiet Salis. He was by far my favourite character. The fact that he was a demon that transformed into a Cat for its convenience of access to certain areas and all the sarcastic and aloof nature that being a demon/cat conveys probably had a lot to do with that.
The plot had a great pace, flurries of action that then were followed of periods of reflection which would ramp there way up to more action. The ending was furiously paced with an epilogue that allow your heart rate to return to normal with a sting in end that will leave you wishing this was part of a series. It’s strength was in the relationships built between all the characters. Wither these relationships are platonic or romantic they build in such a natural way (the romance is a little insta love but in an attraction rather than full on declaration of love, a trust has to be built). We see the trust between characters build, while light gets shed on pre-existing relationships that forward the story is a very subtle way that is endearing to follow.
The only exception I have is the “lip-service” feel to the diversity. One character mentions they are bisexual in an offhand comment and there are characters that are frequently mentioned in having no sexual attraction but as they are not whole human to count them on the ace spectrum would be misguided. I just wouldn’t class this as having representation.
Overall, I was just here for the story. I was happily swept up in the whimsy of the libraries, the machinations of the evil sorcerers and the relationships, wither plationic, familial or romantic between the various characters. I would happily dive back into this world. i would love to find out more about some of our side characters and dive deeper into the libraries and i can only hope that a companion finds its way onto shelves at some point (though it doesn’t look like any are planned).