Author: Garth Nix
Series: Abhorsen #2
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: April 21, 2001
Rating: 5 Stars
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Synopsis from Goodreads:
WHO IS LIRAEL?
Lirael has never felt like a true daughter of the Clayr. Now, two years past the time when she should have received the Sight that is the Clayr’s birthright, she feels alone, abandoned, unsure of who she is. Nevertheless, the fate of the Old Kingdom lies in her hands. With only her faithful companion, the Disreputable Dog, Lirael must undertake a desperate mission under the growing shadow of an ancient evil.
In this sequel to SABRIEL, winner of the Aurealis Award for Excellence in Australian Science Fiction, Garth Nix weaves a spellbinding tale of discovery, destiny, and danger.
Lirael was always my favorite of the series. I think back in middle school I probably read it at least five or six times. I was obsessed. I think because I could really relate to Lirael at that point in my life. The book opens with Lirael wanting to commit suicide. She’s a Clayr, a group of women who can see into the future. But Lirael has yet to be gifted with the Sight and almost all the girls younger than her have it. She feels like she doesn’t belong and she has no idea who she is or who she’s supposed to be. She feels a deep ache of loneliness and while her character may come across as angsty to some, to me, it was realistic given her age and situation.
But everything changes when Lirael gets a job working in the library and meets her friend, Dog. The library is an ancient and huge place, full of dangerous things. Books that are more like living, breathing things. Doors that lock away horrible creatures. With Dog at her side, Lirael starts to explore. Life is better this way. She doesn’t think about her lack of Sight so much and she has a friend at her side. I freaking love Dog. Dog is witty, friendly and hilarious. She holds much wisdom and is extremely old, but she still holds onto that fun-loving puppy personality. I loved how loyal she was to Lirael. She was her friend when she really needed a friend and she believes in her. Dog knows when to help and when to let Lirael do things on her own. She knows when to reveal information and when to keep things to herself. Dog isn’t just a guide to Lirael, she’s her family and I loved the relationship between the two.
Then we have Sam, son of Sabriel, the current Abhorsen (the necromancer who lays the dead to rest). He’s training to be the next Abhorsen, but it doesn’t feel right to him and he fears death and his destiny. Sam can definitely come across as angsty and he did drive me a little crazy at first during this reread, but I loved his character arc and development and I loved that he learned lessons from unexpected people. I loved how much Sam cared about his friend, Nicholas and how much he cared about his parents. Even though this family isn’t together much, with Sabriel constantly on the move to fight dead creatures and his father, the king, always on some diplomatic mission, they were still clearly a tight-knit family and I loved that.
This book is long, coming in at over 700 pages, but I loved every second of it. It takes place over the course of several years and we really get to see Lirael and Sam grow and come into themselves. Lirael goes from a shy, scared, 14 year old girl to a determined young woman. She may not completely understand her destiny and where her life is going to take her next, but she’s ready for it and she accepts it as hers. And likewise for Sam. He’s still scared of what the future holds, but with a new role model to look up to and a new understanding of what he’s meant to do, he’s ready to face whatever comes next. Without the length of this book and all the events that occur within, I don’t think we would have seen such a beautiful character arc for either Lirael or Sam. I loved every second of this book.
We get lots of world-building in Sabriel, but even more in this book due to Lirael’s fascination with books. We learn a lot about different dead and Free Magic creatures and we even start to learn a little bit about the beginning of the Old Kingdom and Ancelstierre. Again, the world-building is just phenomenal. The world that Garth Nix has created is so unique and well thought out. Absolutely love everything about this world. This book ends on a cliffhanger so have Abhorsen ready and waiting because you are not going to wait. YA fantasy lovers, read this series!
Have you read this book/series yet? What did you think?