Sabriel – Garth Nix

sabrielReading level: 7.9

Series: Old Kingdom series book 1 (UK) / Abhorsen series book 1 (US)

Genre: Fantasy, adventure

ELL-Friendly: No

Library recommendation: Middle or high school

I am in love with this series.

Sabriel (SAB-ree-ehl) is an awesome, strong, and independent main character who kicks zombies’ butts even when scared and filled with grief. And by zombies I mean dead people who are controlled by evil sources after they have died. So they’re not zombies in the traditional sense but still fit that definition. Anyway, moving on.

Like several people on goodreads have noted, the book is a little slow at the beginning, but I would encourage students to keep going anyway. It gets much more exciting. The whole premise of necromancing and going into Death is just plain cool. It’s not a world I would want to live in because, well, dead people/beings/things everywhere. But that’s why the Abhorsen exists – to keep the dead in Death.

Mogget, the “free magic” being in the form of a cat, reminds me of Gollum. Is he a good or bad character? A little of both, definitely. I hope Mogget comes back later in the series because he holds such knowledge and mystery.

The only reservation I have about putting this book in a classroom library (which I will) is due to one scene in which Sabriel was taking a bath and heard a couple in another room, er, doing it. Nothing graphic, just awkward.

The romance between Sabriel and Touchstone was pretty cute. Nothing soppy, fake, annoying, or inappropriate. How it should be. 😉 One of my favorite parts was when Touchstone said something like, “I love you. Is that alright?” And Sabriel replied, “Yes, I think so,” or something of that sort.

When I finished the book, I realized that I didn’t care about Sabriel much. I mean, I didn’t feel that I knew her. This really hit home when I began reading (well, listening to) the second book in the series, Lirael. There is so much character building of our heroine Lirael that, a few chapters into the book, I felt much more connected to her than I ever did to Sabriel. The world-building in Sabriel was amazing, and I think that perhaps the author focused too much on that rather than building his characters.

This isn’t a book for ELLs. Crazy (but awesome) made-up names everywhere. I wouldn’t have known how to pronounce much without having listened to the audiobook, which, I might add, is narrated by THE Tim Curry. He can’t do a female voice to save his life, but all other voices were awesome.


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