Title: Sorcery of Thorns
Author: Margaret Rogerson
Review: The opening to Sorcery of Thorns introduces us to Elisabeth, an orphan who is now an apprentice to the Great Library of Summershall, kept by the Director herself. Elisabeth wants to become a warden to keep protect and guard the magical test housed in the library and she has less than a year to prove herself. At the start of the novel a new grimoire is being added to the Library: The Book of Eyes which holds the power to read and control the minds of others. While the book tries to sway her she holds put longer than most but as they seal it away Elisabeth has the feeling that she hasn’t seen the last of this book. Many of the other librarians think Elisabeth has an unnatural attachment to the books within the library but she does see it that way. However, when a magister comes to the library Elisabeth seizes her chance to see on in the flesh. It turns out he wasn’t what she was expecting and seems quite nice when he helps her avoid detection and not get caught. When he performs magic she finds it to be beautiful rather than the horrid act the librarians describe it as. I can already smell the romance and can’t wait to see where this goes.
As we approach the ¼ mark in the novel, the Director is killed, and the Book of Eyes is unleashed forcing Elisabeth to destroy it. However, Finch places the murder on Elisabeth even though we know this isn’t true and she is being sent to the sorcerers to face punishment. There is something off about Elisabeth as the Book of Eyes tells her that she shouldn’t have woken with the sorcerers sleeping spell but somehow she did. This her status as an apprentice revoked and possible death awaiting her there is nothing that Elisabeth can do. Elisabeth is being taken to the Chancellor by Nathaniel Thorn, the same magister she saw previously and his servant Silas. At first, she tries to escape more than once but soon realizes it is impossible. She is comforted by the fact that Katrien has slipped a grimoire into her trunk, a little piece of home. I am now convinced Elisabeth is a sorcerer as she seems to be able to see past spells like the spell Silas has on his eyes and resist the powers of the grimoires in the Great Library. Arriving in the city they are ambushed by a man hoping to feed Elisabeth to a hoard of fiends but her bravery in helping Nathaniel get rid of them and save a helpless young boy land her in the papers and the Chancellor has requested her presence. In the immediate aftermath, they end up at Nathaniel’s home where it is confirmed Silas is a high born demon bound to serve Nathaniel. While all these revelations scare Elisabeth she is still far more curious than she should be. The banter between Nathaniel, Elisabeth and Silas is quite funny to read. Although we know a sorcerer is out to frame Elisabeth for the attacks on the libraries there isn’t really much else happening right now.
As we cross the ¼ mark in the novel, Elisabeth ends up in the care of the Chancellor of Magic; Oberon Ashcroft. Ashcroft is the most powerful sorcerer in the world apart from the Thorn family who are the only family who has the power to raise the dead. It turns out that the Chancellor took Elisabeth in, in order to find out if she knew about thing about the attack on Summershall. She soon learns that the Chancellor and his demon are behind the attacks and they plan to get their hands on the class 10 grimoires housed in another library. While she is able to resist their magic she knows they are going to send her to a mental institution, and she needs to escape as soon as she can but there aren’t many opportunities for her to leave Ashcroft Manor. While things are starting to get interesting we are almost halfway through the novel and nothing of note has really happened and I’m questioning whether this book was worth the hype it received.
As we approach the halfway mark in the novel, Elisabeth is ill with a fever, but she is trying to find her way back to the only person she feels she can trust; Nathaniel. However, it is Silas that finds her, and we learn that Nathaniel might have some feelings for Elisabeth but without any evidence, he can’t help her. Elisabeth can’t go back to the Summershall library as the new Director has wiped her from the records and for the first time in her life she feels utterly alone. In order to get information on the Codex Ashcroft is investigating Elisabeth gets a job at the Royal Library followed every day by Silas. Soon she learns that the book in question is kept in the restricted wing but in order to steal it she is going to need some help. While Katrien provided her with the information, Silas is the one she turns to. After Nathaniel has a nightmare Silas returns Demonslayer to her and agrees to help her get the Codex she is seeking to stop Ashcroft. Silas is proving to be an interesting character as he is a demon supposedly incapable of feeling, but he seems to genuinely care for Nathaniel and is willing to help Elisabeth to keep her from troubling Nathaniel. I also like how Elisabeth trusts Silas despite him being a demon and being told that demons are evil and will use you to get what they want.
As we cross the halfway mark in the novel, things are really picking up. Elisabeth has a manged to steal the Codex from the Royal Library and is beginning to uncover it’s secrets but not fast enough as Ashcroft is still attacking the libraries. With his sights set on Harrow that now houses all three of the class 10 grimoires there isn’t much time left. She also manages to convince Nathaniel to help her, now between the four of them; Nathaniel, Elisabeth, Silas and Katrien they come up with the plan to confront Ashcroft in public showing him he didn’t destroy her mind in the hopes that it will raise suspicions about him and give them more time to decipher the Codex before Ashcroft can fulfil his plan.
As we approach the ¾ mark in the novel, Elisabeth and Nathaniel achieve their goal of implicating Ashcroft in the attacks, but it isn’t without cost. They lose Silas in the attack which was heartbreaking and Elisabeth can’t go after Ashcroft as Nathaniel is gravely injured. We begin to see Elisabeth take a more significant role as the wards of the house acknowledge her. One thing I really disliked was the fact Nathaniel summoned Silas back and Elisabeth has to exchange ten years of her own life for him to make a contract with Nathaniel again. It wasn’t the actual summoning I had an issue with as it was beautifully written, it was the fact it diminished Silas’ sacrifice that he made to save Nathaniel. After Silas comes back we see Nathaniel and Elisabeth finally admit their feelings for each other, but they can’t really do much since Ashcroft seems to have found a way to get inside the Codex.
As we cross into the final section of the novel, there are less than 100 pages to go and I couldn’t wait to see the final showdown between Elisabeth, Nathaniel, Silas, and Ashcroft. In the last 100 pages, a lot happens that I can’t really discuss but the group manages to uncover Ashcroft’s true motive and try to stop him from succeeding. However, I did have some issues with the ending, the relationship between Elisabeth and Nathaniel was brilliant and what happened after was beautiful written but one particular scene involving a certain sacrifice really didn’t sit well with me but the ending does give some hope and I just hope that there is a sequel that answers some of the questions and I have on the lore and the legacy Ashcroft talks about and whether or not a certain character will be coming back. Overall, I felt Sorcery of Thorns was a great book, but I did have issues with the pacing and some character plot points that struck me as unnecessary or poorly written.
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