I received an eARC from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Genre: Fantasy Age Range: YA Star Rating: 5 stars Series: Standalone
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.
Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.
I adored this book. Three chapters in to the eARC, I went into town and bought my own copy. This has easily become one of my favourite fantasies I’ve read this year, the writing sinking its teeth into me from page one. It’s so vivid, so descriptive, painting the world in lush colours. Not to mention the constant thrum of tension right from page one as the story launches right into the action.
The world is so magical, centred around libraries and grimoires – books as magical as we readers know they are. I wanted to simply stay in the library, surrounded by the books murmuring and rattling on the shelves. Secret passages twisting behind the maze of shelves and locked gates. Of course, staying probably wouldn’t be a good idea, seeing how the books can change into demons and go on a killing spree. And the slightly creepy fact that they’re made of human remains.
Beyond the libraries, we have the grand halls of the Nathaniel’s house, as well as faerie-filled woods and city streets. This is epic fantasy arrayed in full force, with a vast world dripping with history.
The dynamic between the characters – Elizabeth, Nathaniel and Silas – was great. Elizabeth and Nathaniel had a tension, but also an easy companionship. Their relationship didn’t feel forced, but more a slow flower unfurling from bud. Silas was a best friend and big brother rolled into one, as well as the most efficient butler-cum-every-servant ever. The light teasing banter between them was so much fun, all the references between Silas and Nathaniel to their past hinting at an incredible history.
It was also so nice to see Katrien throughout the book, so Elizabeth has a female friend to play off. After about chapter five, I didn’t think she’d turn up again, but I loved that she was woven in.
I was never sure where Silas stood, how much to trust him. No matter what he said, his actions said the opposite – which made certain scenes heart-wrenching. And then that ending. Why tease us with that final line? What does it mean?
Even though I doubt it, I really hope this book gets a sequel. I’d love to return to the world of the Great Libraries, and have more adventures with Elizabeth et al.
Read my reviews of other books by Margaret Rogerson:
- VESPERTINE (#1)