Book Review: Lirael by Garth Nix

Lirael is the sequel to Sabriel and serves as the second novel in Garth Nix’s award-winning Abhorsen trilogy.

Lirael is a discontent girl who has come of age but has not received the gift of Sight, being able to see possible futures, as have all the other daughters of the Clayr by whom she is surrounded in their icy mountain fortress.  Abandoned by her mother and having no knowledge of her father’s identity, she knows that she is different, but she is able to seek solace from her despair in her dangerous yet enlightening role as a librarian, preserving and protecting the ancient magical books and secrets hidden in the Clayr glacier.  The day comes, however, when she must leave the home of the Clayr and seek her own identity with only her trusted companion, the Disreputable Dog, by her side, for Lirael’s destiny lies beyond the world of the Clayr.

Lirael felt a shiver pass through her entire body as the old Clayr spoke.  Her voice carried so much conviction, Lirael could almost see the desolate ruins herself.  But how could the whole world be burnt and broken?

As with Sabriel, though the main character is female, there are also well developed male characters introduced, particularly towards the middle to end of the story.  This fantasy series is packed with magic, danger, and adventure, and it develops a plot line in which the veil between life and death is much more malleable and less solid than it is in our ordinary everyday world.

After finishing Sabriel, I quickly read through the last two books in the Abhorsen series.  Lirael managed to build a momentum and tension that captured my interest more keenly than the first.  The story features a cliff-hanger ending that will entice readers to continue with the third in the series, Abhorsen, so I recommend purchasing both the second and third books at the same time, as one does seamlessly feed into the next.

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