Review: Sabriel by Garth Nix

Title: Sabriel

Author: Garth Nix

Publishing Information: Published September 30th 1995 by Harper Collins 

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic, Adventure

Series Information: Book 1 in the Abhorsen series

Format: Hardcover, 292 pages

Source: Received as a gift for my personal library

Recommended For: Readers looking for an adventure story with a likable heroine, a powerful and less than harmless feline creature, and a young man haunted by his past.

Ever since she was a tiny child, Sabriel has lived outside the walls of the Old Kingdom, away from the random power of Free Magic, and away from the Dead who won’t stay dead. But now her father, the Mage Abhorsen, is missing, and to find him Sabriel must cross back into the nine Gates and Precincts of Death. Though her journey begins alone, she soon finds companions: Mogget, whose seemingly harmless feline form hides a powerful-and perhaps malevolent-spirit, and Touchstone, a younger Charter Mage imprisoned two centuries in a wooden ship-head, still trapped by painful memories. With threats on all sides and only each other to trust, the three must travel deep into the Old Kingdom, toward a battle against vicious Hands, Mordicants, and the evil Kerrigor.

Confession time, my friends! My grandmother bought this book for me over ten years ago and you know what? I didn’t read it because the cover looked boring. SHAME ON ME! It wasn’t until I moved into my new apartment and was putting it on the shelves that I remembered that Garth Nix was writing a fourth book (and that it would be available at BEA) that I decided to maybe try it out. I was still a little put off by it for some reason and then I found out that Tim Curry narrates the audiobook! Well, I love Tim Curry in all things and I immediately started listening to Sabriel on audio. It took some time for me to fall into the story but once I decided to read the book in print and listen to it I really fell for the storyline.

Sabriel was an excellent heroine to root for. She was flawed and scared and brave and I loved her. Her sole purpose is to find her father and ensure his safety but she suddenly becomes burdened with this huge responsibility to well, save everyone, and she handles it very responsibly if I do say so myself. The best part about this novel for me, were the secondary characters. I loved, LOVED Mogget, her seemingly feline companion. He was feisty and dark and beyond intelligent and I spent much of the novel hoping that we would get more from his story, for he was clearly much more than what he appeared. Touchstone was another companion of Sabriel’s and he too had a backstory I couldn’t wait to figure out. The best part about Touchstone was his uncertainty yet unwavering loyalty to those around him. I loved how unsure he was of so many things and how important he was to the forward moving of the success of their endeavor.

If I had to put Sabriel in a category alone it would be “coming of age.” Sabriel works hard to live up to the name Abhorsen, and it isn’t easy. She has many trials set in her way and it was very real how she struggled with each. She was a believable and most importantly, likable character. The romance was understated, yet still lovely. When looking back at the novel, the romance heightened my love for this novel, but just barely. It was not something that affected the novel in a large way, yet it was also resounding and beautiful. Sabriel was very different, yet it called to me all the same. The lines between life and death are very blurred, and readers, you know I love a good walk in the valley of death.

Shelf Talker: Sabriel was really unlike anything that I’ve ever read before. It had touches of high fantasy, coming of age, and the perfect dash of romance. Pick this one up if you are looking for something different, but also something that speaks to you like those novels you read all those years ago, when your grandmother gave you a book you weren’t quite sure you were ready for.

6 thoughts on “Review: Sabriel by Garth Nix

  1. I recently read Sabriel for the first time and didn’t quite enjoy it as much as you did, but it was still a very interesting read. And I was glad to read your review as an older first time reader since I was wondering if maybe I would have enjoyed it more if I had read it as a teen. But maybe now it’s just me! I might continue on with it and grow to love it more though, but I look forward to reading your thoughts on the next books in the series!

    • I think I liked the nostalgia it brought along and I loved Mogget but I did feel like it was a little slow at points. I started the second book and it is cute so far!

  2. I’m seriously so happy that you read and enjoyed Sabriel! (Read the rest of the series because it’s awesome.) *ahem* Anyway, I actually wouldn’t have picked up this series either, were it not for husband’s intervention years ago. I read it, reread it and still reread it to this day! Such a wonderful, creative series — and I’m super excited to experience Clariel soon!

    • YAYY I love that we both loved it and I love that others had to kind of push us in the right way 🙂 I started book two and I am liking it so far!

  3. I was obsessed with Sabriel as a teenager, and I’m so glad that Garth Nix finally got around to writing Clariel! 🙂

    I love Mogget. He’s both snarky and deadly. 😛

  4. Pingback: Book Review: Sabriel | The Leather Library

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