Friday, December 27, 2019

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

Synopsis (via Goodreads): 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.


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I hesitated before starting Sorcery of Thorns, because I had such neutral feelings about the author's first book (An Enchantment of Ravens). The story was enjoyable, but "didn't wow me like I thought it would." I had no such problems with Sorcery of Thorns, and really liked the world Rogerson created. It was a world that revolved around sentient books and libraries with secret passageways, sorcery and demons, and a girl that defied the odds to save the day (she just had to save herself many, many times before that).

Let's start with my main quibble: We only see two sorcerers. Nathanial is the main sorcerer in this story along with his demon, Silas. There's another sorcerer and his demon, although their presence is more malicious and villainy. Where was everyone else? They had a council or something, right? Why didn't they play a larger role within the story? The world is literally falling apart, and there is only one sorcerer trying to save the day? If other people had magical powers and demons, they should have been front-and-center trying to fight back the baddies. Their absence was a gaping hole in the story that I couldn't ignore. Especially when the people living in Nathaniel's neighbored were all sorcerers.

Moving on! I love the cover for this book! I'm not sure why it's called Sorcery of Thorns, because the only Thorn we see is Nathaniel, and he isn't the main character. Yes, he's an essential element of the story, but he's not always around. I guess we learn a lot about his family's history, but it seems weird that his name is predominately featured while Elisabeth is neglected.

Elisabeth is constantly having to save herself from this or that situation. She eludes an enchantment, gets blamed for something she didn't do, survives confinement, escapes imprisonment, saves a sorcerer, befriends a demon, fights fiends, pretends to be bespelled, challenges her beliefs and teachings, and cleverly solves the mysteries surrounding the attacks on the libraries. Nathaniel who? She does have help from friends, but essentially saves the day all on her own (although I wish she'd dealt with more inner conflict and turmoil). Everyone else is either too far away, too incapacitated, or too bound to something else to offer much assistance.

I really liked Nathaniel and his relationship with Silas, and I think this book would have benefited from having alternating POVs. It would have been interesting too see this story through Nathaniel's perspective, since he kept himself at a distance (emotionally and physically) whenever Elisabeth was around (slow-almost-nonexistent-burn romance). I think seeing inside of his head would have brought more clarity to the story, and allowed us to view the happenings from a sorcerer's perspective.

I also wish the bad guy had been more nefarious, but he was just mildly unsettling. His demon was more calculating and disturbing, and I would've liked to see her go up against Silas. I felt like a lot of details were glossed or skipped over (like how someone was captured, or how they got from here to there), and things would just progress. I wanted to know what happened in those gaps of time. The ending leaves you with a big, "WHAT HAPPENED?"

I do think I enjoyed this one more because I listened to the audiobook. I don't think I would have had the patience for it otherwise. Having a due date also helped (borrowed from the library). The narrator was fantastic! I feel like this one was a solid 3.5 stars, but will round up until Goodreads develops a half-star rating.

18 comments:

  1. I've seen a LOT of rave reviews for this one. It sounds like you mostly enjoyed this one but - like with An Enchantment of Raves - it didn't wow you. Seems like the narrator did a great job (audio was the way to go, apparently) but there were too many other factors that seem a little lacking. Will you still read more by Rogerson, do you think?

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    1. It wowed me slightly more than An Enchantment of Ravens, haha! In An Enchantment of Ravens, the main character was either painting or walking somewhere. In Sorcery of Thorns, Elisabeth in constantly on the move or in danger, and she's trying to prevent the world from ending. I was wowed by the books themselves, and what they were capable of, but you're right... there was still something lacking for me. :) I do think I will read this author again, because I enjoy her stories even if certain aspects bug me. It's not enough to keep me away. <3

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  2. I'm like that with some books too. I enjoyed the audiobook enough but I'm not sure I would have the patience for the book. Thanks for sharing. :)Krystianna @ Volumes and Voyages

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    1. It's weird how listening can change the whole experience of some books! There are a few I refuse to listen to on audio, because I've read them so many times, and I already have imagined voices in my head! :)

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  3. Those libraries and the world building have me curious to read this one. I appreciate getting your thoughts about what to expect, Lindsi. Glad the writing improved from the author's earlier book.

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    1. The libraries store and guard grimoires! It's exciting! They are classed based on how dangerous they are, and I really like the system the author created. It made the books feel like living things, you know? They're sentient to an extent, but we get to see how much they perceive the world around them as the story progresses.

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  4. I have this one, and I'm definitely curious about it. Thanks for sharing all of your thoughts though - I like knowing what did and did not work for you. :)

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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    1. I would definitely recommend this book! I enjoyed it enough that I plan on reading whatever the author writes next, but wish a few things had been tweaked here and there.

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  5. I enjoyed it too, though I acknowledge there are several holes as you mentioned. Thanks for sharing your thoughts

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    1. Definitely some holes! It didn't ruin the experience for me, but it was distracting.

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  6. Lindsi I like An Enchantment of Ravens but it did not blew me either but Sorcery of Thorns was a big winner for me this year! I think what I loved above all else was the sarcasm (the banter!) and also the universe with grouchy talking grimoires ;-)

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    1. I really liked that Nathaniel called her a menace and a terror, haha! He was hilarious! I just wish he'd been more vocal about his thoughts and feelings, instead of shutting himself away all the time. He was so reserved with Elisabeth, and I wanted to feel more of a spark between them. I did enjoy this one more than An Enchantment of Ravens, and the sentient grimoires were amazing! :)

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  7. I've read many raving reviews about this book. I'm glad you mostly enjoyed this one. ;)

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    1. Everyone seems to love it! I really liked the concept and how it was executed, but disliked all of the gaps and lack of secondary characters. Nathaniel and Silas were around, but not well-developed. I wanted to know more! More about the characters, the world -- all of it!

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  8. Sorry it wasn't the fast paced book you wanted love!

    You really got me thinking about the title now. I didn't realize how it didn't make any sense, haha!

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    1. It was a really enjoyable read/listen! I only seem to notice titles when I'm writing reviews, because I'm curious how they tie into the actual story. Sometimes they don't make sense! They sound and look pretty, but don't really address anything about the book. :)

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  9. I am glad to see that you mostly enjoyed this one. I bought a copy in the most recent Book Outlet order so I am eager to give it a try. Great review!

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    1. Book Outlet will be the death of my bank account! I've told myself I'm not allowed to even browse the site until 2020. I hope you enjoy this one! <3

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