Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson
June 4, 2019, from Margaret K. McElderry Books
Young adult fantasy
Goodreads | Amazon
All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.
Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.
As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught—about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined.
Dear book: it’s not you, it’s me.
I wanted so badly to love this: from the gorgeous cover to the enchanting world and lyrical writing, I feel like I should have fallen in love. Instead, I found myself more on the ambivalent side; I liked Sorcery of Thorns well enough, but I didn’t find it particularly memorable. I just wasn’t able to get into this book like I wanted to, and no one is more disappointed than me.
It isn’t something I can pinpoint, one of the reasons why I wasn’t super invested in this book is that I felt really distant from all of the characters. Characters are the backbone of a story for me; in Sorcery of Thorns, I liked them, but I didn’t connect with them like I wanted to. The writing made me feel more distant from either Nathaniel or Elisabeth than I had hoped for – oh, the world around them is described beautifully, but I didn’t feel like I was immersed in the characters.
Elisabeth was still a wonderful heroine, though: book-smart and physically badass. I found Nathaniel to be, in many ways, a fairly typical love interest with a troubled past, but I could relate to him more than most love interests because, hello, bisexual disaster. I’m really glad to see a bisexual love interest in a historical-based fantasy, anyways, because it’s something I rarely see in books. Both of them have PTSD: Nathaniel from childhood, and Elisabeth develops it over the course of the story. For a society that has no words for post-traumatic stress, it was written and communicated fairly well. Special mention also goes to Silas, Nathaniel’s demon servant, who – despite being a literal demon with, apparently, no feelings – manages to be one of the most charming and heartwarming characters in the entire book.
The romance between Elisabeth and Nathaniel was cute as well. This is, to my knowledge, one of the few books where the female main character is actually taller than the love interest, which I found super adorable? I’m always here for HEIGHT DIFFERENCE, folks. They also have an element of slow burn enemies to lovers, which is certainly something to take note of – personally, I thought that it wasn’t enemies enough, just mild discontent with each other, which isn’t quite the amount of vitriol from each side to be entertaining for me.
I liked the world a lot: in many ways it’s your standard fantasy world, yes, but the grimoires were so magical and enchanting. If anything, the aesthetic of this book was completely on point, because it was so atmospheric. Margaret Rogerson’s writing is beautiful and lush, with vivid descriptions of her world, inspired by Victorian England. I certainly went into this book expecting another generic medieval fantasy setting, so a more modern setting was a pleasant surprise – it’s always nice when fantasy is taking out of a generic medieval setting.
However, the main reason for my disengagement with Sorcery of Thorns is the pacing, which I found to be somewhat inconsistent. There were times where it was slow for far too long, which had me reaching for other things to do rather than read. It definitely picked up towards the end, but there quite a few moments that fell flat for me. It also frustrated me because I saw where the main villain, Ashcroft, was going far before Elisabeth and Nathaniel figured it out. That slowed down the book a lot for me, honestly. And there a couple of times I felt the emotional impact of the plot didn’t land as well as it should because of the magic system.
I’d definitely recommend reading Sorcery of Thorns despite the fact I wasn’t as into it as I’d hyped it up to be. I think I may go back and reread it and see if I like it when I’m in a less hectic headspace – but it’s definitely a very whimsical, magical fantasy with two intriguing main characters.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an advanced copy!
content warnings | mild self-injury for magic
rep | bisexual love interest, PTSD
what did you think of sorcery of thorns? rec me more enemies to lovers fantasy please?
5 thoughts on “Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson | a magical bookish adventure”
Oh man, I’m sorry you didn’t love this as much as you were hoping to, Jess. That’s never a fun feeling. 🙁 I haven’t read it myself, but I think I still will, given that you’ve just told me there’s bi rep and enemies to lovers (which I actually prefer with less vitriol for reasons that are A LOT to articulate in a post comment, haha). Plus, libraries and swords and beautiful covers? I have to at least try it.
Here’s hoping your next read suits you better!
Yes, definitely read it! I still liked it overall, and based on the reviews I’m the minority. And yeah, I totally get that view on enemies to lovers — but some of my favourite ship dynamics start with absolute hate, so that’s what I gravitate towards. But I can see why people wouldn’t like that. Anyways, I do hope you like it when you read it!!
Aw, it’s so sad that you didn’t enjoy this because I recently got a physical copy and it’s GORGEOUS.oh well, it seems like you did still enjoy this book though. I am looking forward to reading my copy next month!!
I did like it overall!! And yes, it’s such a gorgeous book—I’m in the minority though so I do hope you enjoy it!!