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’s this? Two reviews in one week? Who am I?!
As it turns out, I’m a person with a lot of thoughts. I should start a blog or something. Because this book? It needs to be praised and praised and praised.
I love everything about this novel. Cover to cover, this book is a masterpiece. Sorcery of Thorns improves on everything that was wrong with An Enchantment of Ravens. The characters are well-rounded and lovable, the romance is well built up, the plot is tight and exciting, and the world-building is glorious. Rogerson really stepped up her game with her sophomore novel.
Elisabeth Scrivener is a wonderful protagonist. She’s determined and clever, a force to be reckoned with. She loves books and grimoires so deeply and feels more at home among their dusty, opinionated pages than anywhere else. What’s more, she’s willing to challenge her prejudices, especially when given evidence they are wrong. I love her so very, very much.
Nathaniel Thorn is charming and witty, but dealing with childhood trauma. But make no mistake— Nathaniel is not a bad boy. He treats others well, though he does push them away. He fears his family’s legacy and who he believes he’ll become and wants to keep others safe. He reminds me a lot of Nikolai Lantsov from Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse. Nathaniel isn’t an exact copy, but they’re similar enough characters that I can see many readers falling in love with him.
Silas is a fascinating take on a demon. It’s never clear how much what is does is driven by genuine affection or his servitude to Nathaniel. The reader is never quite sure if he’s truly on Elisabeth and Nathaniel’s side. Ashcroft is an interesting villain, as he believes he is the hero of his story. He made me feel afraid for our heroes. Katrien is basically a chaotic neutral genius. My only complaint is that she isn’t in the book more.
The romance between Elisabeth and Nathaniel is so well built-up. I found myself swooning over these two more than once. They begin with a mutual distrust that slowly turns to trust. In the meantime, they’re both trying to deny their attraction to one another. It’s easy to see why Nathaniel likes Elisabeth so much and vice versa.
Moreover, their relationship is healthy. They respect each other and communicate well. Even when they don’t agree, they never resort to putting each other down. They simply explain why they don’t agree. They build trust in an organic way, ultimately fighting on the same side.
When you strip it down to its bare bones, the plot of Sorcery of Thorns is exactly the same as An Enchantment of Ravens. A girl is implicated in a crime and is whisked away by the love interest for justice. But that’s where the similarities end. An Enchantment of Ravens is a tad meandering and clumsy. Ditto for the romantic development. Sorcery of Thorns improves on its predecessor in every way.
This plot is tightly controlled and filled with action. Every choice and event is placed there purposefully. I was on the edge of my seat for more than one scene. And the foreshadowing? Brilliant! Rogerson kept me engaged the entire book and never made me question her writing decisions.
But what really ties this story together is the immaculate world-building. First of all, I’m a sucker for magical libraries. By adding in living grimoires with distinct personalities, Rogerson gave me a new setting to which I wish to visit. This world has such a nostalgic feel, like I’ve been there before. The only other books to give me this feeling upon first read were A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab and Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. So, yeah, Rogerson belongs with the greats.
I also really like how Rogerson gives different groups their own limitations. Sorcerers must summon and make a deal with a demon in order to use magic. Librarians are forbidden from engaging with sorcery at all, but are taught to fight and protect grimoires and Maleficts. Demons are powerful, but cannot reach their full potential while bound to a sorcerer. There’s a delicate system of checks and balances at play here that I really appreciate.
Sorcery of Thorns could easily find its way onto my best list for this year. It’s got a strong hold on my soul and won’t let go. If you felt let down by An Enchantment of Ravens, I definitely recommend giving Rogerson another try. This book stands as proof that YA can be enjoyed by anyone, as long as it’s well-written. Sorcery of Thorns is the kind of book that makes you believe in magic. Because writing this good has to be sorcery.