A couple of weeks ago, I posted a review of Sabriel, a YA fantasy novel by Garth Nix that I read as a preteen and re-read recently.
Welp, I just couldn’t stay away. I just finished Lirael, the sequel to Sabriel, and let me tell you, it was a good one.
The story picks up 14 or so years after the events in Sabriel. One thing that I remembered from the first time I read this book when I was in junior high was that I was disappointed that it didn’t take place immediately after the first book and that Sabriel wasn’t the main character.
This time, though, that disappointment didn’t last long. Lirael gives us a different view of the Old Kingdom, exploring places and peoples that we didn’t get much of in the first book. We get to meet Lirael, who deals with different struggles from Sabriel and has a much different journey. We get to learn so much more about the Old Kingdom and its history. We get to spend time exploring a humongous library with Lirael and her awesome friend, the Disreputable Dog. So good.
Lirael contains much of the real-feeling magic and world-building the Sabriel did, with Garth Nix fleshing much of it out. Nix has a great knack for dealing with very real issues (depression, suicide, racism, and more) in a fantasy story, and for the most part, he does this flawlessly.
The one negative thing I’ll say about Lirael and its sequel, Abhorsen (which I’m reading right now), is that they’re a bit long. I think it’s fine that they’re two books, but each of them could be shorter in themselves or maybe even condensed into one novel.
Other than that, Lirael is a fun yet serious, fantastical yet believable story of a girl who’s trying to find herself and trying to save the world at the same time – something that I think most of us can relate to. She humorously manages to dodge romantic advances, she gets way in over her head often, and she has to make solutions up as she goes along. If that’s not a reflection of real life, I don’t know what is.
Overall, I would say I enjoyed Lirael slightly more than Sabriel. I’ll let you know soon what I think of Abhorsen!