Virginia's Reviews > Sabriel

Sabriel by Garth Nix
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's review
Oct 14, 2014

it was amazing
Read in December, 2008

you know how no matter how many times you have macaroni and cheese, it's still delicious? that's kind of how i feel about this series. it was a childhood favorite of mine, and occasionally coming back to it is like having a serious helping of comfort food. for anyone who's tried fried chicken, mashed potatoes and chocolate cake (like, ex. tamora pierce, phillip pullman, and yes, j.k.r.), and still has room for more, i suggest this dish to fill up the corners.

basic plot: sabriel is a necromancer--one who makes sure the dead stay dead. after a sheltered childhood in nonmagical country, she finds out something's happened to her father in the old kingdom, where she was born and where she has an important title--abhorsen. on her way to rescue her father, she comes across a hundreds-of-years-old man, an incredibly impertinent cat, and many, many dead things. she also learns the history of her country and her rightful place in it.

with good kid's fantasy, it's sometimes tempting to compare with harry potter (ok, it's pretty much always tempting). but that comparison is completely inept here, because the two series are essentially different genres (english boarding school vs. alternate universe). the important similarity, however, is how complete the worlds are in both. read the first page of sabriel, and immediately you're in a new world with new logic, codes, and history. nix manages to teach you a lot about this world without, for the most part, becoming obnoxiously didactic.

occasionally, in a book like this, the magic gets in the way. introduce it, and all of a sudden every problem is easy to solve, and all the tension drains away. that's not the case here--the magic is helpful sometimes, sure, but sometimes it comes back to bite the protagonist. overall, the book maintains a good balance between allowing the magic to be useful and allowing it to take over.

in sum--read this book. i really don't understand why it never got quite as popular as the above-mentioned books, although i understand nix has a popular series for younger readers. maybe they'll grow up and give this series the following it deserves.
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