Review: Sabriel, by Garth Nix

I read Sabriel by Garth Nix when I was in high school, and it rocked my world.  When I
was young I read a lot of fantasy, as you can imagine, and since I was too
young to know how to differentiate between good and bad I read a whole lot of
stuff based on D&D, which is in turn loosely based on the Lord of the Rings
series, which I had not even read.  Because I had newly discovered the fantasy genre I would read anything that had a dragon in it and say, thank you, sir, may I have another?  When I picked up Sabriel I expected more of the same.  I got anything but.

Sabriel is the story of a young girl at a boarding school with a weird talent: she can bring the dead back to life.  But this talent isn’t specific to her.  Her father, The Abhorrsen, is a dignitary from the land beyond the Wall, and though Sabriel doesn’t know much about life there she does know that his work involves protecting people from the Dead.  When Dad doesn’t show up for their nightly meeting in her fireplace, Sabriel realizes that he is in danger and she crosses the Wall to save him. Rescuing her father, even surviving, will take all of her resources and each of her seven magical bells.

Here’s what I loved about this story: The Wall is a physical barrier between a magical land and a real, twentieth century one.  Sabriel is smart, resourceful, and powerful despite all of her youthful innocence.  And Sabriel had zombies before zombies were ‘in’. To this day I have rarely read anything so very original. I mean, bells to fight the undead?

There was one thing I didn’t like about this book, but for me it wasn’t enough to decrease my love of it.  The romance plot felt strained and tacked on,
like Mr. Nix wasn’t really sure how an eighteen year old girl would feel as she
fell in love. But I forgave it and I hope you will too.

You may be thinking, wow, Michelle really loved this book and I suspect she’s a little biased toward it, and you might be right. I am a giant Sabriel fan girl.  It was a
huge inspiration for me in my own work and I recommend it to everybody. Five
stars, people.  Five big, shiny stars.  If you are interested, here is a link:


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