by Margaret Rogerson
read by Emily Ellet
Simon & Schuster Audio, 2019. 14 hours, 21 minutes.
Review written February 10, 2023, from a library eaudiobook
Last year, my Cybils panel chose Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson as our 2021 winner for the Cybils Award in Young Adult Speculative Fiction. And after reading for the 2022 Cybils awards, I finally made time to listen to an earlier book by Margaret Rogerson.
Sorcery of Thorns is fun because it features an apprentice librarian. But she doesn’t work in any ordinary library. Elisabeth Scrivener was a foundling who grew up in one of the Great Libraries of Austermeer — a library packed with grimoires, full of ancient magic.
But one terrible night, Elisabeth is the only one awake and she finds the director of the library dead, killed by a grimoire that got loose and turned into a malefict — a giant sentient monster. But with the director’s sword, Demonslayer, Elisabeth is able to defeat the malefict.
That gets Elisabeth the attention of all the wrong people. A young sorcerer, Magister Nathaniel Thorn, comes to escort Elisabeth to the chancellor for questioning at the magisterium, along with his demonic servant. Elisabeth knows not to trust sorcerers, but he’s surprisingly kind, and helps Elisabeth when they’re attacked by a horde of fiends. He’s compelled to take her into the protection of his own home.
But when the chancellor takes Elisabeth into custody, she begins to realize something is wrong. Little by little, Elisabeth — and eventually Nathaniel as well — start to unravel clues about a monstrous plot that could destroy the world.
I thoroughly enjoy Margaret Rogerson’s writing, and the romance in this book was delightful. Elisabeth is a wonderfully resourceful heroine who’s more likely to rescue the guy than be rescued, though some of both happens.
I do have a lot of quibbles with the magic. I never have patience for sentient objects feeling emotion. In this case, it was books, but if you look at those details too hard, it just doesn’t work. And the relationship between sorcerers and their demons has some problems as well, if you look too closely. But I enjoy Margaret Rogerson’s writing so much, I was able to set aside all those quibbles and thoroughly enjoy the story.
In fact, I finally got this audiobook listened to because I heard about a new volume coming out, Mysteries of Thorn Manor. I’m now disappointed that it’s only a novella, but happy to get to read a little more about Elisabeth and Nathaniel.
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Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but the views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.
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