“Sorcery of Thorns” is one of those ultra-hyped books that I am always leery of reading, especially early on when all the book press is still going strong, but then my friends were doing a read along and, well, here we are. It’s been quite a while since I’ve read a standalone fantasy book, honestly I prefer series because then you get a better sense of the world and the characters the author has crafted populating such a world. But Rogerson has done a lovely job bringing Elisabeth, Nathaniel and Silas to life. Crafting a world where sorcery is tied to the necessary evil of binding yourself to a demon, and magical grimoires are living, breathing things with as peculiar of personalities as any other flesh and blood character. Rogerson leans hard into the metaphor of knowledge being power, and it being dangerous in the wrong hands—I loved that. The book is full of witty banter as well as these incredibly heart breaking moments… I really did enjoy this book! But was it worth all the hype? Mostly…
The first half of the book was a little slow, and Elisabeth honestly felt rather dense for how smart she is supposed to be. There are things that seem so obvious to the reader (or maybe just me?) that Elisabeth seemed to just not get. I’m sure it was done to show how sheltered she was, only knowing a life inside the library and tending to the grimoires, but it just came off as thick to me. I did sometimes get confused as to what the relationship was between these Great Libraries and sorcerers. The Libraries are meant to keep the grimoires safe, away from the sorcerers, but also the sorcerers can come and read them whenever they want. Sorcerers are supposed to be evil, but they also kind of rule society and it’s not a dystopian. Magic does incredible things, saving lives and what not, but is also supposed to be regulated? There were just some contradictions that I never felt were well defined. Plus, as a tall girl myself, I really hated how the characters treated Elisabeth for being tall. Even Elisabeth at times seems to view her height as a deformity of sorts, and it honestly really bothered me. But, in terms of things that bothered me? This is about it.
Nathaniel and Silas, and even Katerien when she was around, really made this book for me. Aside from grimoires and the awesome magic, these characters were amazing. I loved Nathaniel’s sarcastic banter, I love the greyness of Silas and his character arc, and that ending! My lord… I both loved it, and hated it, wanted more from it, but am satisfied all the same. Silas was honestly the most interesting character to me, and while at times I could take or leave Elisabeth, I always, always, wanted more time with Nathaniel and Silas. I honestly did need more between Nathaniel and Elisabeth though, because with the slower paced first half, Nathaniel just isn’t around much and then the second half feels a bit too fast in terms of their personal relationship just because we didn’t see them interacting that much, even when Elisabeth was under his care.
This book is a solidly enjoyable read, it truly, honestly is. But I didn’t really get into it, want to stay up late and read ahead and not wait for my group read buddies to catch up, until the second half of the story. It was never bad, it just didn’t pull my heart and fling it around for funsies for a good, long while. And, to be honest, that’s mostly because of Silas. We get so much more of him in the later part of the book and it just kills me in the best way possible, especially him in his feline form. It’s Silas and that uptick in the pacing of the later parts of the book that propel this to 4 stars for me, otherwise it would stay at 3, if I’m being honest. That’s why I say this novel has MOSTLY lived up to all the hype. The end of this book definitely deserved it, hands down and makes it a truly lovely epic, YA fantasy journey, especially if you want to dive in without investing in a series that is 3+ books long!
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