Have you ever fallen in love with reading all over again, because a book has captured your soul? I did, after reading this book. And how, I am excited to read more because of it. As of right now, this book holds the quotes that have been my favorite for the year.
Customary warning: This is a reminder that these are my personal opinions. My thoughts and feelings are not your thoughts and feelings. I may not always be the target audience for a book; sometimes I am. If I do not like a book, that doesn’t mean you’ll dislike it. If I love a book or simply like a book, you may hate it. Take everything I say with this knowledge. If it sounds interesting to you despite what I’ve said, then go ahead and read it. You’ll only know you like something if you read it yourself.
That being said… Spoilers ahead.
Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson
Synopsis From The Book
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.
Initial Thoughts Before Reading:
This is a book about magic and about libraries. If anything could be more up my ally, I’m not sure what it would be. This is the book I got in my FaiyLoot box last month and so I have high hopes for it. Fairyloot books are always a lot of fun and I have been meaning to read this one since I got it. Am I super hyped? Nope, but I am excited in general.
Okay but note: The author’s message in the book has me! See in notable quotes.
Initial Thoughts After Reading:
Woah. That was so good. I got so many quotes from this. I love this book, oh my goodness. Can I go back and read it again without knowing how it was going to go? I simply can not express how much I love this.
I loved the characters, the quotes, the love for books, the magic, and the humor. There were so many things about this book that I could elaborate on, but I don’t know if I will. I still have to process.
This book is a standalone, and for what it’s worth it does it well. I have complained about other books in which I believe their events would do better when spread out over a longer period of time. This is not one of those books. This is a standalone that is beautiful as a standalone. I can not ask for anything else, really.
If there is one thing I know for sure? It is because of books like this that I love reading.
Elisabeth has lived in the Great Library for her whole life, wanting to be a warden for the Great Libraries and to keep watch over the ever dangerous Grimoires that they watch. Grimoires are filled with a dangerous demonic energy, for the purpose of their spells, that can manifest itself outside of the book to become the equivalent of a monster. It is up to the wardens to both protect the books and destroy them if necessary.
Elisabeth’s daily life is pretty average. She does what she needs to as an assistant Librarian, which even means helping the Library Director with more dangerous tasks. When a Sorcerer comes to the library, Elisabeth and her friends are interested which results in Elisabeth meeting Nathaniel Thorn, a Magister of the age 18. He is nothing like the stories she had been told of Sorcerers but knows better than to trust them, for Sorcerers are evil.
One night, after Nathaniel has left and the world is in order, Elisabeth wakes to an odd feeling. Following that feeling, she comes down to the library to find the Director, a woman who is much like a mother to her, dead and a Grimorie running wild. Unable to have time to sound the bell, Elisabeth runs to fight it on her own. She succeeds in killing the Grimorie but upon her return is claimed as the perpetrator.
Elisabeth is sent to the Magistrate with Nathaniel Thorn as her guide. They travel together for a while, with Elisabeth trying to run away and failing. Upon coming to the city, Elisabeth realizes that Nathaniel had been teasing her the entire journey, and that most citizens loved Sorcerers. In the city, they are attacked and end up saving some people as well as killing the demons that attacked them. Elisabeth reads up a bit more on his family and their magic (necromancy) and learns how his entire family is dead (perhaps at the hands of his demon that is a part of their family).
Elisabeth is taken to the Chancellor of the Magistrate, who declares her not a suspect in the death of her Director any longer. She is left with him by Nathaniel and learns that it was in fact the Chancellor who is trying something with the libraries. She believes his goal to be the three level ten grimoires that exist. Fleeing from his captivity she returns to Nathaniel.
Telling Nathaniel everything, he agrees to let her stay. She learns of his past and Silas, his servant’s, purpose in it. Nathaniel is heavily dependent on Silas. Elisabeth sneaks into a library and steals a book (hereby called the Codex). Nathaniel and Elisabeth get in contact with Elisabeth’s friend Katrien and the three start investigating the matters more thoroughly.
Unsure of how to convince everyone of the Chancellor’s deception, they accuse him at the public ball. The Chancellor gets them secluded and aims to kill them. Nathaniel is majorly wounded and Silas dies protecting him. Nathan is carried home and in his delirium and need, summons Silas again. Elisabeth helps him pay the toll.
In time, Nathaniel recovers (partially) and through the Codex they discover the Chancellor’s ultimate plan: to summon the King of the demons, Archon. The Chancellor had been lighting the summoning circle. Realizing this, the team goes to try to stop him at the next library. They are able to destroy the grimoire after it has become a monster, and must go to the last library.
At the last library, Elisabeth realizes that she can control the library as a part of it as the books are, and they make their way to the Chancellor who has begun the summoning. Books fight back, but unable to stop the summoning, the Demon Archon comes. Nathaniel is nearly killed again. Silas protects him, and Elisabeth releases him from his servitude. To release a demon is to return him to his base state, fueled only by hunger and without a care for any life.
Silas struggles with his nature. Nathaniel tells him it’s okay if Silas kills them, better him than Archon. Silas struggles against his nature, and then goes to stop the finalization of the summoning sending himself and Archon back to the Otherworld from which they came. Nathaniel and Elisabeth survive (Nathaniel with a permanent injury). Elisabeth is offered the chance to become an assistant again. She and Nathaniel try to summon Silas back to no avail.
The book ends with Elisabeth making a question, testing it and the candles going out.
What I Liked:
Elisabeth; Our walking, breathing, library booklouse. She was raised in the magic library, and can speak to the magic library. She is strong with a sword and a bit naive at times. It is her heart and her love for the books that make me adore her. She’s also super tall. I think what really drew me into her character was how she viewed the world and questioned it all. She was an observer, untouched by magic, and that allowed her to become something no one else could be. However, she understood why others would need things. Her compassion and empathy were filled, perhaps from all the books she read as a child. I empathized a lot with her.
Nathaniel; An orphan in his own right, who is loved by many for the magic he could bring (and his good looks). He lost his mother and brother in an accident and then his father, when Silas killed his father to save Nathaniel’s life. He is witty, not sarcastic. He has nightmares from his father’s death and Silas loves him. There is something about his character that strikes me. I think it could be his humor despite all his trauma. He is a character filled with, not mysteries, but cheer. He tries not to be broody, and the world loves him. He also has a world of responsibilities on his shoulders, which he navigates expertly. He is also bi, which is addressed, in case anyone was wondering. I love him too.
Silas/Silariathas; Hands down my favorite character of the book. I don’t think I’ve loved an Other creature as much as this one in such a long time. He is demon, he is not. Everything he is and does is justified. He is snarky, but loving. He loves Nathaniel, having taken care of him for years. Something about other creatures can be so wrong in text, but the way that these demons were used was familiar and still so distant. The way Silas was portrayed showed that counterbalance between who he was under Nathaniel’s control and who he was when he was not under that control. This conflict was brilliant even if it was shown through the eyes of other humans. I adore him.
Katrien; For a side character she got a lot of time, which was nice. I liked her spunk.
Concept; I really like their world, and the brief history we get. We see a history of war, and how magic has been changed in their lands since its inception. I also like the idea of living books that are living due to the magic they hold and can become monsters. The culture was fascinating to read about. Additionally, the concept of demons, magic, and magic books, was not one I initially anticipated.
Magic System; This magic is a soft magic system (Outside of summoning), and for what its worth, it worked. I have no idea how the magic worked because Elisabeth had no idea how the magic worked, and for that reason the soft magic system worked. I really like how it was incorporated, and wasn’t the end all be all solution.
What I Would Have Liked or Changed:
Ashcroft/Chancellor; His villainous plan could have been a bit more “It’ll change the world for the better.” For a person summoning the king of the demons, you’d think he wouldn’t be doing this for the greater good.
Time Taken To Read
Going on my recommended list.
“For all the girls who found themselves in books.” – Author’s note in the beginning
“But I only turn girls into salamanders on Tuesdays. Luckily for you, it’s a Wednesday, which is the day I drink a goblet of orphan’s blood for supper.” – Nathaniel, pg 27
“What is the point of life if you don’t believe in anything?” – Elisabeth, pg 79
‘ Ink and parchment flowed through her veins. ‘ – about Elisabeth, pg 269
“My best guess is that they’re plotting world domination… I don’t think we should leave them alone together. It unsettles me.”
“At least if they take over the world, we won’t have to worry about Ashcroft any longer.” … “Wait a moment. I’ve thought of something.”
“Tempting as the prospect is… We are not attempting world domination. it sounds fun in theory, but in reality its a logistical nightmare. All those assassinations and so forth… Silas used to tell me bedtime stories.” — Nathaniel and Elisabeth, pg 275
“But as it turns out, the criminals on the streets aren’t half as bad as the ones living in mansions.” – Nathaniel, pg 284
“Can you go on?”
“Of course I can. I may be useless, but my good looks might prove critical for morale.” – Elisabeth and Nathaniel, pg 414
‘ For these were not ordinary books the libraries kept. They were knowledge, given life. Wisdom, given voices. They sang when starlight streamed through the library’s windows. They felt pain and suffered heartbreak. Sometimes they were sinister, grotesque — but so was the world outside. And that made the world no less worth fighting for, because where there was darkness, there was also so much light. ‘ – About the Grimoires.