Before picking up Sorcery of Thorns by Maragaret Rogerson, I had not read any young adult fantasy books in years. I think I mostly avoided the genre due to how intimidating it can be – with massive books and very long series – they’re a big commitment. When I found out about this standalone book, I decided it was a great place to reintroduce myself to the genre.
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.
What snagged me right off the bat was how great the world building was in Sorcery of Thorns – the author wastes no time setting up her fascinating world – and does it without long exposition or monologues. I also really loved how entwined the magic system was to the story – it wasn’t simply a part of the story, it was the story. The entire book also reads like a love letter to libraries, which I think is just lovely. There was a lot of story to pack into a single book – but the author did it well. Sorcery of Thorns was well paced and action packed (more action than I was honestly expecting).
Elisabeth was a phenomenal character – she started out as a book smart (but not at all street smart) child of a library who was unwillingly thrust into an adventure. She constantly had to rely on her own smarts and wit to get her out of situations, and she was exceptionally brave. Throughout the book she became more worldly and brave – she slowly grew into her own kind of hero – one who relied on empathy and intelligence rather than physical strength. I also loved her relationship with Nathaniel – while they started at odds, they ended up being a great pair with a lovely romantic connection.
Sorcery of Thorns is definitely a new favorite book of mine – it has a strong leading lady, a fascinating magic system, and oozes a certain bookish magic. I will definitely be rereading it soon. If you’re looking for other fantasy books, check out literally anything by Tamora Pierce or The Invisible Life of Addie Larue. 5/5