By Garth Nix
Rating: 5 stars
Who will guard the living when the dead arise? Sabriel is sent as a child across the Wall to the safety of a school in Ancelstierre. Away from magic; away from the Dead. After receiving a cryptic message from her father, 18-year-old Sabriel leaves her ordinary school and returns across the Wall into the Old Kingdom. Fraught with peril and deadly trickery, her journey takes her to a world filled with parasitical spirits, Mordicants, and Shadow Hands – for her father is none other than The Abhorson. His task is to lay the disturbed dead back to rest. This obliges him – and now Sabriel, who has taken on her father’s title and duties – to slip over the border into the icy river of Death, sometimes battling the evil forces that lurk there, waiting for an opportunity to escape into the realm of the living. Desperate to find her father, and grimly determined to help save the Old Kingdom from destruction by the horrible forces of the evil undead, Sabriel endures almost impossible challenges whilst discovering her own supernatural abilities – and her destiny….
Hoh I’m on a posting roll today, finally getting a chance to finish off my draft backlog….
I bought my copy of Sabriel when I was at college, but I first read it way way back when it was published in the UK and I have returned to it multiple times since. I remember the excited wait for each new book all too well and when Clariel FINALLY got released a re-read of the original series was definitely in order.
Having read Sabriel and being part way through Lirael, I am really glad that I decided to do a re-read. Whilst the new book is classed as a prequel to the series, I am sure that I will enjoy it more with everything we learnt in the original trilogy fresh in my mind. Nix is so brilliant at creating worlds that really last within the imagination of the reader. The Old Kingdom, is one such world and is probably one of my all time favourites in Fantasy Lit, so I really enjoyed returning to it.
From Sabriel’s entrance as an unlikely resurrecter of dead rabbits, you know she is far from an ordinary girl and this is far from an ordinary story. From Wyverley college Nix takes us on a really interesting journey through an intriguing landscape – I’ve set it before and I’ll say it again – this would make a FANTASTIC film if it was done properly. You have a very definite feeling of where you are at all times – without ever feeling bogged down by the scenery.
I love Sabriel as a character – she’s really interesting and layered. We see so many sides of her: a self-assured prefect at the school, the uneasy Abhorsen-in-waiting with the soldiers at the wall and the teenage girl struggling to find her way with Touchstone and Mogget . I love that she does have a really good – if unconventional – relationship with her father` and you believe that there really is a great deal at stake.
I also really like her travelling companions – Touchstone struggling to find his feet in this new age and Mogget being, well, Mogget: all sarcastic and feline. Nix’s creation and characterisation of Mogget is something that has stubbornly stuck with me from that very first reading of Sabriel all those years ago.
This is a book I’ll return to again and again on into the future – and I know I’ll find something new in it every time. Sabriel is a book that is definitely NOT just for children.