‘Sabriel’ aka ‘I’m not Abhorsen’

Sabriel by Garth23270063_1826498904029959_1730885877_o Nix (published by Harper Collins) 1995.

“Five Great Charters knit the land together linked, hand in hand…”

– Aline, p.216, Sabriel.

I’m giving this book 3.5 stars. It could easily have been a 3 or even a 2, but some of the concepts in this book are so delicious I had to bump up the score a little.

Bells that sing to the dead. A sassy, talking cat. A world where the South doesn’t believe in magic and the North is drowning in it. Dead things that swim in the river of death which runs through nine gates in a frosty underworld…

All the same, it was a real effort for me to trudge through this book; it has so much promise, but as much as I tried to, I couldn’t make myself enjoy this adventure. I understand that Sabriel is the first in a trilogy that apparently gets better and better, but I’m not desperate to get my hands on Lirael. My biggest problem was the writing itself.

Occasionally I felt a twinge of empathy for the characters, but most of the time I felt distant and disconnected to their plight. The book is narrated in third person, but as soon there was more than one hero on the move, there were some irritating lurches between being an omniscient and a limited narrator. I never knew whose head I was supposed to be in and who knew or felt what at any given moment. The landscape was often unclear in my head, I found myself re-reading lines that contradicted themselves and descriptions that painted odd images in my mind that weren’t quite fitting. Some of it was super cheesy and predictable, other parts seemed to come out of nowhere, or were so drawn out that it jarred the action.

Just not a fan. Sorry!


Notes on notable characters
Sabriel – I get what she was supposed to be – smart, resourceful, brave- but I couldn’t warm to her at all. Just accept your identity please.
Mogget – The saving grace. Loved this character from his blunt snubs to his fluffy white fur and cute little red collar that kept his murderous spirit at bay. The only reason I want to continue the series is to see if he makes furry friends with Kerrigor, seeing as they might be sharing a litter tray from now on….
Touchstone – What a waste of space. Spent the first half of the book hoping he wouldn’t be the love interest. Then he was the love interest. For once I wish there was a love triangle so I could pick the other one instead.
Abhorsen – Absent father who has a hundred hundred heartbeats left or something. I actually found his rescue hilarious. How he was just communicating with his eyebrows.
Kerrigor – WHY is Kerrigor just Rogirek spelled backwards… no thanks. Gah! This isn’t The Shining. That was an eye roll moment.
The Clayr Twins – I really liked this pair for some reason, their striking look is sticking in my head. You go Sanar and Ryelle.

Best bits:

  • The motif of the silver key.
  • The paperwings (but not the random bird attack).
  • The nine Gates of Death.
  • The fact that Touchstone and Rogirek are half-brothers.
  • My copy of Sabriel had embossed Charter Marks on the cover that you can only see if you catch them in the light – very cool.

Worst bit:
The fact that Sabriel woke Touchstone. She should have left him as the perfectly fine, and rather pretty, carved statue that he was.

All in all, a little disappointed in this story, but glad I pushed through.

*… screaming in the distance I’M NOT ABHORSEN CALL ME SABRIEL PLEASE … *

Wrap-up and TBRs

October Wrap-Up and November TBR

October Wrap-Up

Last month was an unusually good month for reading (7 books)! I got a little obsessed with Patrick Ness and threw in a couple of spooky reads for Halloween. Here are my October reads with star ratings and mini-reviews (warning: mild spoilers).
Scroll past them for my November TBR list.

  1. Across The Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn (2 stars).
    Overview: Set in a medieval Japanese (sort of?!) world with magic and clans and lords and princesses and assassins and squeaky floorboards.
    Liked: Takeo’s conflicted identity; split between his simple, pacifist, religious roots of The Hidden, the new loyalty and status as an adopted Otori Lord and his murderous and mystical bloodline connection to The Tribe.
    Disliked: The literal love-at-first-sight relationship of Takeo and Kaede. Uncomfortable references to Japanese culture that aren’t quite right or quickly brushed over.
  2. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (4 stars).
    Overview: Magical realism – a scary/friendly/sarcastic/paternal monster arrives to help thirteen-year-old Conor deal with life, in particular coping with his terminally ill mother.
    Liked: It made me cry. I think it’s a very important book that will help a lot of people – children and adults alike – with the grieving process and the complexity of loss.
    Disliked: Again, it made me cry. It’s also a very short book which has a singular, if successful, purpose…. so not one I have a sudden desire to read again and again.
  3. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (5 star)
    Overview: Everyone can hear everything everyone is thinking, even animals. Some people go crazy, some people find answers, some just try to survive.
    Liked: Mancheeeeee (the dog). The ‘Noise’ is such a great concept and so cleverly handled that it becomes believable.
    Disliked: I’m not saying because it is a huge spoiler. If you’ve read it – THAT part. This was actually a re-read because a few years back I actually couldn’t carry on reading after THAT happened. Patrick Ness is mean.
  4. The Ask and The Answer by Patrick Ness (4 star)
    Overview: Everyone apart from a couple of people seem to want to start a war. Young people get manipulated and people get hurt.
    Liked: The almost but not quite star-crossed lovers vibes. How the plot slowly becomes the title of the book. The fact that I simultaneously adored and cared for a character that I also despised the guts of (how!?).
    Disliked: The start was SUPER SLOW but it picks up. Todd’s actions were frustrating at times, but I think that was the idea. Get with it Todd.
  5. Monsters Of Men by Patrick Ness (5 star)
    Overview: Oh look, there’s a huge war a-happening. Well done everyone. Didn’t see that coming at all….
    Liked: Wilf. Angharrad. Lee. Some wonderfully pure characters in this final chapter. The fact that a new voice was added to the narrative per book – the third voice was a like a distorted reflection of Todd.
    Disliked: The ending. I get why, but… why!? Don’t leave a trilogy on a cliffhanger!
  6. The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories by Tim Burton (5 star)
    Overview: A collection of classic Burton poems – beautifully dark, hilariously cruel.
    Liked: The original illustrations and the quick wit of the poems. Can speed through the whole thing in 10 mins.
    Disliked: The fact they’re not at all child-friendly. Maybe he should do a kids collection, seeing as he has a lot of young fans now.
  7. Carrie by Stephen King (4 star)
    Overview: Telekentic teenager gets really mad at her mum and school peers. There’s lots of blood.
    Liked: The way the narrative switched between newspaper cuttings, journals and personal accounts of the events kept the story alive. How I felt sorry for Carrie AND her victims.
    Disliked: How the big climax seemed to happen a fair few chapters before the end of the book. Seemed to wind down too early on. Carrie’s mum… didn’t really get her deal or why she was so unhinged.

November TBR

I’m keeping this months list reasonably short as I’m leaving the country soon and I have a sinking feeling that I won’t be able to take any books with me! Finding it hard to judge just how much I’ll be able to read.

  1. Sabriel by Garth Nix
    This book is taking FOREVER for me to trudge through, but it’s not awful. I just seem to be a bit disconnected with the story….. nearly there!
  2. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
    I’ve seen this title everywhere and recently bought myself a copy in a book sale. John Green says it will be remembered as a classic. I have high hopes.
  3. The War of The Worlds and The Time Machine by H.G Wells.
    Having seen and enjoyed film adaptations of both of these stories, I’m hoping they will be late-night spine chillers.

First Post

Hello! I don’t suppose anyone will actually be reading this blog for a while, but here’s a small introduction anyway.
Thanks to a 24hr Readathon, moving to a remote island and being reunited with my lovely bookshelf, my love of reading has been rekindled. I’ve also settled on the idea that I’d like a career in books; perhaps publishing, or further academic study. So, it seems like a good time to start a book blog!
I’ve revisited my GoodReads account (and actually downloaded the app), set up an Instagram account and am excited to finish my current book and get my first post up!
The online book community seems very friendly and there appears to be lots to get involved with – I’m hoping to get stuck in with some challenges after I’ve got the ball rolling.
Along with booktalks/reviews, I intend to post my monthly TBRs and wrap-ups, general bookish opinions and booktags.
The aim is to post quite regularly, but who knows! Maybe this will be my one and only post and I’ll get distracted by something else….