by Garth Nix

HarperCollins, April, 2001.
Hardcover, 496 pages.
ISBN: 0060278234
Ages 12 to Adult

Lirael by Garth Nix To the north of modern England lies the Old Kingdom, a place of magic, necromancy and the constant threat of the rising of the Dead, controlled by a force even more evil and powerful than the most powerful necromancer. Only a wall of Charter magic keeps the Old Kingdom contained, and most of the modern world is blissfully unaware of the incredible kingdom that lies beyond the wall. Lirael is a Daughter of the Clayr: a sisterhood of Seers who live in the remote North and can See into the future. But Lirael still doesn't have the Sight, although she is much older than the other girls. Still, she manages to get a post in the Library, a fantastic magical place with more than a hint of danger buried in long-forgotten rooms and passages. With her Disreputable Dog for company (a magical being Lireal created with the help of Charter and Free Magic) Lireal sets out on a quest to help save the Old Kingdom from a great evil. She meets up with the disconsolate Prince Sameth, who is extremely unhappy about his status as the heir to his mother the Abhorsen, who is responsible for leading the fight against the Dead. Sameth and Lireal must find Sameth's old school friend Nick, who has unknowingly brought a great evil into the Old Kingdom which could destroy the kingdom entirely.

Lirael is the sequel to the critically acclaimed Sabriel, which told the story of Sameth's mother, Queen Sabriel, the Abhorsen. We learn more about the remarkable magic of the Old Kingdom, including the Abhorsen's ability to control the Dead using a special set of bells. Lirael has always felt like an outsider, and her longing to fit in is perfectly and movingly written. The mysterious Disreputable Dog who follows Lirael on her adventures is a real treat: a wise-cracking font of wisdom who knows just how to bully Lirael out of a bout of teen angst -- she gives her a little bite, which generally has the desired effect. Garth Nix has a real talent for creating believable and compelling characters, and his imagination is fantastic. This is fantasy adventure at its best, and readers are sure to look forward to the next installment of the story in the Abhorsen. Highly recommended.

--Claire E. White

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This review was published in the May, 2001 of The Internet Writing Journal.

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