This is the second book in The Old Kingdom series by Garth Nix (sometimes referred to as the Abhorsen series), if you haven’t read the first book in the series, Sabriel, you can check out my review here (if you like. No pressure). As with most of my reviews of sequels, this one will be short and will contain no spoilers of Sabriel or Lirael.
What’s it about: Sensible girls, less sensible boys, Necromancy, and sassy talking animals.
So the first book in the series, Sabriel, is about a young girl who is the daughter of the Abhorsen (Big Daddy Necromancer). When her father goes missing, she must travel through the Old Kingdom, which is full of dead things that want to eat your face, to find him. And the fact that Sabriel is one of the most sensible protagonists I’ve ever encountered, just makes this book lovely to read.
So what about Lirael? Lirael is the story of two separate characters, about 14 years after Sabriel.
The story of Lirael starts off with poor 14 year old Lirael contemplating suicide because she doesn’t have psychic powers, (rather than hiding in a cupboard, because ironically, the cupboard feels too much like a coffin) but she sensibly decides to go work in a library instead. Havoc inevitably ensues when she creates a talking dog, who can be a bit of a bad influence.
The second story begins with young Prince Sameth and his friends fighting off a horde of zombies with cricket stumps. One of Sameth’s friends then gets into a spot of bother, and he must go and save him, with the help of a sassy talking cat.
Doesn’t that just sound perfect?
I liked Lirael as a character far more than Sameth, but I still really enjoyed both storylines. As with Sabriel, I think the strength of this book is in the world. The world and the necromancy, and death are just all so freaking awesome. I love the necromancy, I love that it’s not necessarily evil magic in this series.
Garth Nix is also an incredible writer, and there isn’t a single word out of place with this novel. His style isn’t big on flourish, but it is just good, efficient storytelling, and I wasn’t bored once during this book. I never wanted to put it down.
I absolutely love this series, and I wish I had discovered it as a teenager.
I rate it 4.5/5 stars.
I’m now going to go start Abhorsen, because I drove to K-mart at 9 pm (which is late okay) to get it and that’s commitment and proof of my love.
Find it here:
The edition featured here is an Australian edition by Allen & Unwin (I know. The hideousness of the original covers defy all logic).