[Review] Sabriel by Garth Nix

Publisher and Publication Date: HarperCollins. 2021.
Genre: Young adult. Fantasy fiction. Dystopian.
Pages: 368.
Format: Hardcover.
Source: Self-purchase @ Amazon.
Audience: Readers of young adult fantasy books.
Rating: A very good story-well-written-engaging. It is not my kind of story though.

My copy is a 25th Anniversary Classic Edition.

Link @ Amazon.

Sabriel is book one in a series of six books. The link is to Amazon to see the list of all the books.

Garth Nix’s Goodreads author page.

Website for Garth Nix.


Sabriel is a teenage girl aged 18. She has just finished the last term at a boarding school at Wyverley College.

A strange creature of death came to her school and delivered a sack with her father’s tools (he is the Abhorsen.) Principally his sword and silver bell. She immediately knows her father is in danger, probably dead, but maybe not beyond the gate of returning him.

Her father is a necromancer. A person who communicates with the dead in order to help understand and change events. Black magic is used. Often affiliated with a warlock or witch.

The plot of the story is Sabriel’s journey to the other side (the Old Kingdom) in order to find out what happened to her father and help him.

My Thoughts:

Now, isn’t this a book I usually read. No. But I wanted to read a story that is out of my usual. I wanted to read a story that appeals to young adult audiences so I can be informed. Informed about why the enticement to read this type of story.

As far as the storyline, plot, ending, characters, and all the events that unfold. The book is highly imaginative and readable.

I can understand the allure of the story. Sabriel is an antihero. She has an interesting upbringing. She has interesting abilities. She has a father who does not have the norm type career. She has been educated in a posh school for “young ladies.” But she does not overtly stand out with beauty and popularity. She is noticeable in her own way. If a person is observant.

Magic, charms, and spells are used to bring strength and power to help combat evil. These are tools of control that a human can use.

There are internal and external conflicts. The external conflicts are immense.

It is not a scary book. It is not an edge of the seat thriller. It is a journey, with a trial of testing during the journey.

The story is dark. It is depressing.

To an extent, people read fiction and especially fantasy fiction as a way of escaping real life. Except, Sabriel is an escape to a world of darkness and death. The spells and charms and tools of being an Abhorsen does not protect the person from danger and death. There is a limit to the ability of even an Abhorsen.

If a young adult is already depressed, is reading this story going to make them feel better? Will it lift them up? It is possible it will help them escape for a time.

I’m reminded of the reasons people engage in horoscopes, tarot cards, sorcery, etc. It is a way to control an outcome. A source of protection. A way of feeling strong and powerful. It is a person who wants to rise above and take charge of their life. It brings a security and satisfaction if only for a time. In the end, the reality is death comes to all. What then? In this story, there is a series of gates with horrible entities that haunt and beguile and torture. Sheesh.

I do not believe in, nor will I agree to ever ban a book. Nope. If my children were younger and wanted to read this story, I’d at the least say, “let’s read it together and talk about it afterwards.” Conversation after a story is a great way for families to connect.

My final thoughts:

Death comes to every living thing. We do not have control over it. We can eat healthy. Exercise. Do everything in our knowledge and power to do the right things to live a healthy long life. But death is certain. We do have a choice about what happens after our body dies. I believe in the afterlife. I believe that when I die my spirit is going to go somewhere. I am promised that I will have eternal life with Jesus Christ.

Rarely do I talk about my faith on this blog. But this book brought it up. I cannot let it go.

Will I read a book like Sabriel again? Probably not. It is well-written. But it is not the kind of book I enjoy reading.

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