A thrilling fantasy story where books in the library are alive and powerful
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 11 December 2019
Sorcery of Thorns follows Elisabeth Scrivener, an apprentice who dreams of becoming a librarian, to protect the world’s most powerful and volatile grimoires. However, one night, Elisabeth finds herself in the middle of an awful plot to upend the Great Libraries, and her life is turned upside down. Elisabeth must get to the bottom of who and what is threatening the world as everyone knows it, all the while navigating whether to trust the sorcerers she’s been taught to consider evil all her life.
I’m not going to mess around, this is a good YA standalone fantasy read. The story took me on an adventure that had me wondrous and wanting more.
Without being too corny, this is a bookworm’s dreamworld. Sorcery of Thorns embodies all this bookish, because Rogerson brings books and libraries to life. The descriptions of libraries, aged and worn books and the personality of books was utterly joyful. I absolutely loved the books (grimoires) being living breathing things; they had different temperaments and talents. They are, in essence, contributing characters to the story. This is an easy pull for any bookworm, and thus makes it all extremely immersive and imaginable. This really is a world made for a bookworm’s appreciation.
“Elisabeth was assigned to care for a Class Two called The Decrees of Bartholomew Trout, which developed a habit of wiggling provocatively every time it saw her coming.”
Elisabeth and Nathaniel are likeable characters, and the author cleverly connects them through their similar upbringings. Elisabeth is that type of character who has prejudicial thoughts early on, and grows as the story progresses, to be more open minded. And Nathaniel Thorn easily sweet talks the reader into adoring him for his humour, old style vocabulary and his tortured soul.
I was caught between the devil and the deep blue sea with the book’s romance. It wasn’t developed enough for me to feel like it was worthwhile, because I think the story would have felt the same if Elisabeth and Nathaniel’s relationship was strictly platonic. This would have been fine (a friendship instead), however, the characters were portrayed as love interests, with one of them being rather swoon worthy. So I couldn’t help but want the romance aspect at the same time, which is the dilemma I had here: it simply wasn’t explored, expanded or emotional enough for me to root for it.
I don’t think I’m alone here, which naturally makes me feel better: Silas was my favourite character and the true star of Sorcery of Thorns. His demeanour - as a heartless but not heartless person - really captured my attention. I desperately want a sequel centred on Silas, or at the very least, another story set in this world, where he features as a main character again.
Some events, for me, were just too much like writing overkill. The need to have Elisabeth in continuous peril was rather over the top with the dramatics. As well, I’d of liked to see more of the villain beyond the reasoning of a family legacy and thirst for power - I like things like this (i.e. the character’s background too) fully explored, perhaps even with a full on villain speech, which Sorcery of Thorns didn’t deliver.
I enjoyed the magic of this world; where warlocks, grimoires and demons were essentially interconnected. Rogerson wrote all of this with an air of magic that I’ve just not encountered recently, and I simply adored it. It’s been one of my favourite story’s with world building that is successfully ensnaring I’ve read this year.
All in all, Sorcery of Thorns was thoroughly enjoyable. I read it in two days, and I’m rating it 4 stars. It’s full of humorous moments that you can’t help but smirk at, or full on chuckle at. The personification of books was my favourite part of this book, and I won’t be forgetting it anytime soon. I definitely recommend this to anybody who wants to read an ode to all things bookish and get lost in a world where your books are a little bit more than what they appear.