I have been super excited to read Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson since the cover reveal first released (I adore anything Charlie Bowater), and when it arrived in June for FairyLoot AND OwlCrate, there was so much buzz about it! Of course, it then sat on my TBR for several months. However, after finishing Darkdawn and trying hard to fight back a book hangover (fully expect that post soon, btw), I felt like this was the perfect time to dive in. And it was the perfect way to stave off any residual feels from DD! I loved every moment of it, and fell in love with the cast and the world and the everything!
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.
Summary courtesy of Goodreads
I simply adored this story. The cast of characters was wonderfully draw. The setting was a little dark and spooky and perfectly Fall. The magic system was unique and well thought out. The plot was fast paced and kept you guessing. It hit all of my check boxes and then some! Let’s delve a little deeper.
First, the magic system. LOVE LOVE LOVE. So in this universe, books are alive. Not all books, but at least those used for/written about sorcery, called grimoires. Housed in Great Libraries across the country, these books have personality and quirks and are classed by how dangerous they are. Some might just spit some ink as you walk past, or refuse to open unless you compliment them daily. Others will steal your soul or lure you to a gruesome death. The worst of them can literally transform into monsters called Maleficts, and have to be kept locked away in salt-and-iron-laced vaults.
Beyond the magic of the books, we also have sorcerers. They get their power by binding Greater Demons to themselves and Demon names are often passed down in families for generations to ensure the continuation of power. We also see Lesser Demons, which are actually illegal to summon, but obviously still show up all the time. Elisabeth, being raised in the Great Library, was taught to think of sorcerers of evil. While they certainly can be, there are just as many who are not, and their magic seems key to the infrastructure of the country.
Elisabeth is brave and vibrant and inquisitive and just a little bit clumsy, which made her feel more real and interesting. She would be a Gryffindor, for sure, in the same vein as Hermione Granger. I love that she is super tall (6’3″ according to a recent tweet from Margaret, taller even than her male counterpart), which breaks the usual mold of all female MCs being petite. I’m short, so I can’t relate to being tall, but it was a small detail that made for a nice break in the norm. Elisabeth really gives everything her all, and goes for what she wants. She is also a complete bibliophile and the grimoires seem to love her back – or at least tolerate her better than they do others. As an avid reader, this more than anything else is what endeared her to me.
Nathaniel is the last sorcerer of the house Thorn. The Thorns have sole command of the power of Necromancy, and are feared by all. They are almost the “dirty little secret” of the country, as they have the ability to raise an army of the dead in times of war, and as such are kept close by the various rulers over the years. Nathaniel is moody and surly, but belies his dark heritage by also being truly gifted at some beautiful magics. In fact, we see him create lovely illusions. He’s also very young (only 18, orphaned at 12), and considered an Eligible Bachelor. He does everything he can to push Elisabeth away, but she’s equal parts stubborn and naive, so that doesn’t really work out for him.
I actually love the relationship between Elisabeth and Nathaniel. She has something inherently magical about her (you find out what later in the book), and he is very clearly drawn to her. Their interactions often had be laughing, especially in the beginning when she is convinced he sacrifices virgins and drinks babies blood as part of being a sorcerer. He, of course, plays up this misconception, and I’m not entirely sure he realized she actually believed him at first. They really are well suited for one another, so seeing their bond grow was so nice.
Next we have Silas. The Greater Demon of House Thorn, he is quite possibly my very favorite character. Outwardly he is a VERY nondescript, plain, short, butler-type. He can also take the form of a very fluffy white cat, which comes in handy. However, hes also a talented killer and vicious by nature of his demonic roots. What I love best about him is that he’s like a demonic Jeeves (if you haven’t read the Jeeves books by P.G. Wodehouse, GO DO SO NOW). He has impeccable manners, a very stiff upper lip, and finds mess to be distasteful. It makes it all the more shocking when he suddenly goes all badass assassin demon. He’s just the best.
Lastly, we have Katrien, a more minor character and Elisabeth’s best friend. She is hilarious and super smart and also 100% Fred and George Weasley’s female counterpart. She’s constantly breaking rules and causing trouble and even going so far as to steal things if she knows there is a need. She also constantly mentions “Stefan”, and all the things she basically makes him do (like dress up like a librarian and run around with no pants to create a distraction). We never meet this boy, but I feel for him and all the shenanigans Katrien no doubt leads him to.
I just realized I have rambled on for ages, and never mentioned that actual PLOT. In the interest of time, I will keep it brief. Basically, someone is breaking into the Great Libraries and setting loose high-level Maleficts, which are killing people and threatening the safety of the country as a whole. Elisabeth and Nathaniel uncover a conspiracy that dates back to the inception of the Libraries, and will do anything they can to stop it before the world is thrown into chaos.
All in all, I adored this book. The only downfall is that it’s a standalone, which seems to be a trend for this author. I would have happily read more of the adventures of Elisabeth and Nathaniel, and hope we see them again someday! I will be putting this on my “will definitely reread” list, and giving it some permanent real estate on my already crowded library shelves. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves magic and books and adventure!
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Have you read Sorcery of Thorns? Tell me your thoughts in the comments!