December Countdown, Day 15 : Mince Pies

December book meme (details here). Mince pies – a little sweet something:


Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

SorceryofThornsSorcery of Thorns is one of those books that felt like it was written just for me.  I had such a good time with this book and couldn’t put it down.  It’s this wonderful combination of spirited MC, plenty of action, witty dialogue with laugh out loud moments and well – just everything.  I loved it and it put me on a book reading high.  Plus I wanted to speed to the end but also didn’t want to ever reach that point.  I could literally read this again, right now.

The thing is, this doesn’t include a magical library so much as magical books.  They have feelings, some of them are grumpy, some of them are evil and they all communicate with our main character.  We book lovers have a way of talking about our books as though they really are characters don’t we?  We discuss our TBRs and how the books on there  ‘wait patiently for us to pick them up and crack open the pages’.  Well, here is a story where the character not only talks to the books but feels their emotions.  It’s like a dream come true to be honest – although I think some of my books would have long since given up talking to me, they’d be sulking too furiously or probably trying to throw themselves at my head in a desperate attempt to garner some love and affection.

Listen to the hype about this book people.  It’s real.

We start off by making the acquaintance of Elisabeth as she’s about to undergo something of a scary task – the delivery of a grimoire to the Great Library where she lives and is apprenticed to become a warden.  Elisabeth has lived in the library for as long as she can remember.  Left on the doorstep as a youngster she was accepted into its folds by the Director who took a shine to her because of the way her face lit up when she saw the books.  She now endeavours to become a Warden at the library although her mischievous nature doesn’t always win hearts.

A bit of background.  Austermeer is a place where sorcery exists but is regulated.  Grimoires are kept locked away in the five great libraries and are only broken out of their chains upon special request.  Grimoires are precious but also dangerous, they can, with the slightest damage, easily transform into havoc wreaking monsters known as Malefics and this is, in fact, exactly what happens one evening when Elisabeth is awoken in the dark of night and finds a Malefic on the loose.  Acting quickly to prevent bloodshed Elizabeth stops the terror in its tracks but then finds herself accused of instigating the crime and taken to the City to be investigated.  Nathaniel, a sorcerer himself, and his butler, are set the task of bringing Elizabeth back for questioning.  Now, Elizabeth has been brought up in a very small, self contained environment, led to believe that sorcery is the root of all evil and so she thinks that Nathaniel will take this opportunity to kill her in some sort of ‘accident’ but Nathaniel is the least of her worries.  The politics, treachery and polished society of Austermeer are far more of a threat and it soon becomes evident that a much bigger plot is afoot.

I couldn’t even begin to count the ways in which this worked for me but here’s a snapshot.

Firstly the characters.   Elisabeth is like a breath of fresh air, a bit gangling and clumsy even, not refined in particular but she’s just good fun, a bit plucky and not always worrying about her appearance or thinking about how she fits in.  She’s clever too and quite capable of getting herself out of a spot plus she’s not afraid to say what’s on her mind.  Then there’s Nathaniel.  The sorcerer who, yes, does become the romantic interest but, let me be clear, the romance isn’t the main focus of the story, although the chemistry on the page was so compelling that I probably wouldn’t have complained even if it had, and Nathaniel is not only great mind candy but his way of speech is downright entertaining, I found myself laughing at his dialogue all the time.  But, the absolute show stealer is Silas.  A demon no less.  OMG – I loved Silas.  He’s a demon with impeccable manners and fashion sense.  I just couldn’t get enough of this character.  He is wicked and and makes no bones about telling people not to trust him but I just loved him and want more.

Then there’s the dynamics of the relationships.  Firstly there’s the pop and sizzle between Elisabeth and Nathaniel which really was just lovely to read.  Elisabeth starts out with lots of prejudices, she comes across as the country mouse to Nathaniel’s sophisticated city mouse and although it takes a little while she eventually starts to see that she’s been living in something of a bubble.  Many things have been misrepresented to her and so what starts out with a pride and prejudice feel on her part finally comes down with a bump when Elisabeth begins to understand that she’s not been told the complete truth.  Then there’s the Batman/Alfred the Butler feel, or more appropriate maybe Howl and Calcifer feel, to Nathaniel and Silas’s relationship  So, so good.  Did I already mention that – well, one more time couldn’t hurt.  These two have known each other forever and they have that easy feel of being there for each other, second guessing what’s needed, and ignoring each other quite willfully.

The writing is really persuasive.  It’s easy to visualise.  The libraries are beautifully described.  The characters all stand on their own two feet and the dialogue is great to read.  The pacing was also really good, I maybe had one slight lull after the dramatic start but I think that might have been driven more by my own impatience to get to the meat of the story.

And, the action is highly entertaining.  There are coach chases (this being set in what feels akin to the Regency period), all sorts of drama involving breaking into libraries, necromancy, sorcery and a jaw dropping finale in the Grand Library that I’m not going to tell you more about – because of spoilers obviously – but that I loved – it was brilliant.  And that ending.  What?  No.  Give me more.  NOW.  Ahem, I’m shouting now so it’s probably time to leave this alone.

Basically, in case I came across as a little shy with my feelings – this book was just brilliant.  I adored it and in fact, even with that tiny little lull this book gets the full 5 star treatment.

So, the burning question I suppose is do I now need to rush out and grab a copy of An Enchantment of Ravens??

My thanks to the publisher for granting me a copy through Netgalley.  The above is my own opinion.

Rating : 5 stars