Sabriel Review

sabriel cover

Title: Sabriel

Author: Garth Nix

Series: Old Kingdom

Pages: 491

Summary: Sent to a boarding school in Ancelstierre as a young child, Sabriel has had little experience with the random power of Free Magic or the Dead who refuse to stay dead in the Old Kingdom. But during her final semester, her father, the Abhorsen, goes missing, and Sabriel knows she must enter the Old Kingdom to find him.

Belle Rating: B-

Bookworm Rating: B

Overall Rating: B

Target Audience: Young Adults

Story Notes:

L – The book begins with our main character Sabriel. She’s the daughter of the Abhorsen, a man who can travel through the nine gates of death. When her father goes missing he sends her his sword and a set of bells and tells her to travel to his house. She sets off on a journey across the Old Kingdom, a land crawling with not only normal bandits and dangerous creatures but necromancers and the undead.

D – The Abhorsen’s job is to keep tabs on the undead. Sabriel knew something was seriously wrong when her father sent her his tools and began hearing about the undead causing problems with the locals. While she’s traveling to her father’s home, she encounters a mordicant, an undead made of mud and fire. She barely escapes by crossing a river surrounding her father’s home, because the undead can’t cross moving water. I guess the undead aren’t very sure-footed.

L – Well, they are constantly decomposing….

D – They might not like getting water in their ears too. I find that to be annoying.

L – When she arrives at her father’s house she is greeted by Mogget. Who at first glance appears to be a pure white talking cat. But don’t let that fool you. Mogget is actually an incredibly powerful creature made of “Free-Magic”, which is corrosive to just about anything it touches. Mogget has been kept in check by her family for generations but it definitely would like to be set free.

D – *whispers* it’s not something you want to mess with! He’s got a bell collar for a reason!

L – The bells are used to keep powerful creatures and the undead under control. So the fact that he’s actually wearing one is a pretty big indicator of how powerful he is.

D – Yea, aside from the fact that he’s a very powerful being who’d stab you in the back when he gets the chance, he’s a fun and sarcastic companion.

L – After some convincing Mogget agrees to help her find her father. Unfortunately she’s trapped in the house because undead armies have gathered on both sides of the river. But she has a magic plane made of nothing but paper. What could possibly go wrong….

D – I was about to say she just needs a pitchfork and some molotov cocktails. But I guess a plane would work. If there weren’t gore crows (undead crows) sent to attack the plane! Too bad it wasn’t made of something sturdier, cause down went the plane. She falls into a pit full of boats. And there she finds the burial grounds of kings and queens and a strange looking figurehead…

L – After feeling around with her magic she realizes that this figurehead is actually a man who’s been trapped for several hundred years. She manages to set him free and discovers that his name is Touchstone. He also has a surprising connection to the royal family and he helps her travel to the capital city of the Old Kingdom where they find her father.

D – Her father is trapped in the gates (a.k.a the dead zone) so she has to use her bells to try to save him. However, as Sabriel is traveling through the gates, the undead are trying to get to Touchstone and Sabriel in the living world. In order to save them from Kerrigor (the baddy), Sabriel’s father sacrifices himself.

L – There isn’t much more we can tell you without spoiling the ending but there’s a huge undead army and a battle over a corpse. If you want to know what that means read the book. 😉

Writing Style:

D – I found it to be…a little odd…but fun

L – Garth Nix has a talent for creating very complex worlds. It shows in Sabriel a lot. It’s also pretty interesting because he combines the Old Kingdom which is very medieval in tone with the New Kingdom which is more modern.

D – You’ll just have to read it to understand what the heck is going on.


L – One of the downsides of creating a complex world is explaining it. Garth Nix is pretty good at this but there are points where you have to sit there and go….Wait. What?

D – Yea, I had to reread some stuff a few times. It can get a little weird. But it’s a good weird. I’ve also heard that the second book tends to drone on and on and on…but I can’t say for sure because I haven’t read it yet.

L -The second book is a bit slower but still good. It kinda balances out though because the third book moves at the speed of light.


D – There is a cute, diabolical demon cat. They are always fun 🙂

L – The story is also pretty engaging. I genuinely was curious about what was going to happen next and it wasn’t too predictable.

D – Trust me, you’ll never guess how it ends…hehe

Final Thoughts:

L – It’s a fun read with enjoyable characters and a well-structured plot.

D – Just get the book and read it. It’s great!

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