Sorcery Of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon Teen)
Release Date: June 4, 2019
Available Through The Book Depository: Sorcery Of Thorns
Summary: 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.
My Rating: ★★★★☆
My Thoughts: Sorcery Of Thorns is the latest novel from Margaret Rogerson, its a book that’s enchanting, immersive, and weaves together a tale that pays homage to the power of books!
Elisabeth Scrivener was orphaned, but taken in to the Great Library of Summershall where she grew up surrounded by books and wants nothing more than to become a warden, moving up the ranks from an apprentice librarian!
She continues her studies and knows she is nowhere near ready, so it’s of course a surprise when the Director calls her to assist in moving a grimoire into their facility. This not only ensures its well sealed, but examined and the text within it preserved for the future.
A grimoire comes to life one night that leads Elisabeth on an adventure across the kingdom where she gets tangled up in forbidden sorcery and complicated magic that threatens her world! She stops at nothing to uncover secrets and solve the mystery of grimoires that have become dangerous monsters, aka Maleficts.
With the Director’s death, we see that it acts as catalyst for Elisabeth to take action! I really loved how you could see the Director was a mother figure to her (wanting to show her potential) and it was through the little actions that Elisabeth did in which we saw that her mentor would have been proud, in using her knowledge to help others! Though we see the Director really did have a lot of faith in Elisabeth by leaving her Demonslayer and reminding her that her there is so much to the world of the Great Libraries that leave her many options.
Throughout Sorcery Of Thorns, Rogerson weaves mystery, intrigue, adventure, and as a standalone, I appreciated how all these different elements we’re layered into the story.
According to a feature interview from Kirkus, its mentioned that the journey Elisabeth embarks on mirrors Rogerson’s own upbringing learning more about the religion she grew up with.
“As a teenager, I was discovering a lot of things about the world that were very contrary to what I had always been told as absolute truth…”
As Elisabeth steps away from her world of libraries, she learns more about the world around her and is shocked by the sexism and other societal norms she’s never encountered before.
As a YA Fantasy standalone I loved how Rogerson layered not only the themes of this story, but also the clever foreshadowing, character development, exploration of the world, and plotting!
The way she structured Sorcery Of Thorns was done in such a brilliant way where I was always surprised at the littlest of details! She’d find ways to bring them back 50 or so pages later that had me amazed at how descriptions of characters, backstory, etc. played such a huge part as we uncovered more about the direction of the story.
As an aspiring YA Fantasy writer, I found she explored a lot of different elements in very interesting ways from the growth of Elisabeth and her finding her way, to the layers of world-building that slowly unfold, even the direction of the plot. I felt that the way she weaved all these elements together left me inspired as a writer and I’m looking forward to rereading this book again in the future–maybe annotating it to uncover more that I may not have noticed before!
Told through a 3rd person POV, Rogerson not only allows us to follow Elisabeth on her journey, but also allows us to understand the new friends and people she meets along the way! From sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, his demon servant/best friend Silas, the Director, Elisabeth’s best friend Katrien, even Ashcroft!
Honestly though, if I had to pick my favorite characters, I’d say that I loved Elisabeth, Nathaniel, Silas, & the Director all equally!
There’s not only insight into the main characters, but also the world of Asustermeer and its 5 libraries, the Otherworld of demons where Silas comes from, and even the world of grimoires.
Rogerson’s descriptive writing builds a gritty, dark, and expansive world, unlike any I’ve ever read before! There’s dark magic, but also threads of hope, adventure, moments of humor–overall there’s a lot of different tones and atmospheres to this story that get uncovered and cements itself into this magical tale! Even the tiniest of details from the green sparkles of Nathaniel’s magic to the metallic smell of sorcery made the setting feel lived in and very grounded in reality because we had so many different layers to explore.
Sorcery Of Thorns is the kind of book that even though the writing at times is heavily descriptive, you still want to keep reading! I felt the writing style really brought a lot to this book! The world always felt real and really came to life.
What surprised me as well was seeing how Elisabeth’s world of libraries and magical books completely contrasted what the world was like in Austermeer. Where librarians see sorcerers as nothing but trouble and pure evil, outside they are celebrated and seen as average people. She learns more about not only sorcerers, but demons as she changes her perspective on Nathaniel & Silas when they team up to protect the world.
“― what had it called her?
A true child of the library…”
In terms of the foreshadowing, I found that I was more surprised than anything. As mentioned above Rogerson, weaved in the smallest details into the plot where I was not expecting and I loved that although I realized it less than 1/2 way through, they still managed to be unexpected. They were used really effectively and for so many descriptions to be used to further the plot in such an interesting way, it was something I really enjoyed!
Specifically, I personally loved how we knew who the villain was early on! Not only did it offer more action and intrigue into the story, but what makes it fun is that your constantly left theorizing of what he’ll be plotting next. That was great because we kept learning more, figured out how his plan would impact the world and how his schemes are constantly influencing the world in a lot of ways (going after each library and the consequences of going after all the top Class 8-10 grimoires).
Its not explored until Elisabeth learns more about both Nathaniel & Ashcroft’s pasts, but I really appreciated the importance of family, legacy, and remembering the family that has come before you. It wasn’t until I finished Sorcery where this really symbolized Elisabeth too, growing up orphaned in the library, seeing the Director as a role model/parental figure to look up to, keeping her legacy/teachings alive by saving the world from Grimoiers. I also loved how this journey showed Elisabeth that although she hasn’t found exactly where she wants to be yet, that’s okay because there’ll always new paths open to her!
This is also really random, but the further I read, I loved when I learned why this book is called Sorcery Of Thorns! 😭💖💫🌿
Now I wanted to get into more discussion on why I personally rated this novel 4 stars!
It’s no surprise that I was really looking forward to this book because I adored Rogerson’s debut An Enchantment Of Ravens and had already seen so many glowing + 5-star reviews!
Although 4 stars is definitely not a bad rating in any way, there were just a few things I wanted to explore that lowered the rating for me personally.
So, as an aspiring writer its no surprise that I really want to work on the craft of writing. With that, I couldn’t help but notice that from my reading experience, I picked up on quite a few writing cues and familiar turns of phrase that took me a bit out of the story.
Also with the very direct descriptions I found the pacing was very uneven at times. There were moments the story moved constantly, but then it was stopped abruptly, it happened a while throughout the story and it was just hard for me to love the book fully because of it.
Also, while I completely understand what Rogerson was doing showing these two different sides to the world of Austermeer (librarians & the regular world), I wasn’t exactly a fan of the sexism and old-era ways of thinking. For example, there’s a scene in which Elisabeth is trying to explain the villain’s plot of using the grimoire’s & how he plans to attack each library. But, she gets seen as “mad” and is almost left to be put into a hospital.
Early on, I personally saw this world as its own universe, so I really didn’t understand why these old ways of thinking had to be present (hope that makes sense??). I see how the author used it to show the strength of the female characters when they’re in the libraries and how it differs from the realities of their world, but I found it was just kind of frustrating to read at times.
Throughout the book I was left thinking: There’s powerful/brave female characters here, but outside a Great Library position their not seen as equal to men & so quickly judged?
And lastly, while the writing is definitely a strength of Sorcery, I also found it was its weakness at points. Because the writing is so descriptive and so “perfect”, it made the story and its flow somewhat dense. With that, certain setting descriptions made it difficult at points to picture certain elements of the world, setting, and characters (though this was definitely in more specific moments).
Overall though, this was another fun fantasy standalone from Margaret Rogerson and I’m looking forward to seeing what she publishes next!
Sorcery Of Thorns is a novel that’s packed with so many complex layers and they all find their way into the story from beginning to end that will leave the reader satisfied! There’s magic, sorcery, a great cast of characters, beautiful writing, and so much more that cement Rogerson as a master in YA Fantasy standalones!