Sabriel by Garth Nix

Sabriel, NixHarperCollins, 2008 (orig. 1997)
ISBN-13:  978-0061474354
Ages 12+

Sabriel looks forward to her father’s rare visits to her boarding school in Ancelstierre, but when he fails to come during her final year, she knows something is wrong.  An important and powerful necromancer called the Abhorsen, her father has many enemies, and it is of dire consequence that he be rescued.  So Sabriel, along with two companions, sets off into the dark and terrifying Old Kingdom to find him, and on the way, she discovers the truth of her own destiny.

Garth Nix’s writing is impeccable, and he has a gift for description.  There are times when reading this book causes you to forget reality completely, so submersed are you in Nix’s highly imaginitive world.  However, the first three-quarters of the book are lacking in tension that would have served to make the plot itself riveting — parts of the novel are tedious, but not from excessive, flowery writing.  It is simply difficult to connect with the characters and the action.

Having said this, readers who either are not troubled by this minor failing or who persevere will be fully satisfied by the ending, which is fantastically gripping.

Over all, this novel is an astounding achievement, and will without doubt be enjoyed by adults as much as by teens.  It is the first of a trilogy.

4/5 stars

— Reviewer Anonymous

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