Review: Clariel

Hey all.  I’m still working my way through the Old Kingdom series by Garth Nix.  It was so fun to revisit the original trilogy that I first read when I was 13 or so.  Honestly, I didn’t remember much about them, particularly Abhorsenso it was almost like reading them for the first time, which was cool.

Once I finished the original three, I was so pumped to check out Clariel, a prequel that takes place 600 or so years before Sabriel.  Because I knew there was a prequel, I caught a reference in Abhorsen that I hoped hinted at a sweet backstory that would be explained in Clariel, and I was totally right.  AND I LOVE ORIGIN STORIES, OK?!

As usual, I don’t want to spoil much for you, but here are some of my thoughts.  For me, Clariel started a little slow.  I quickly grew tired of how much she complained and whined about having to move from her small hometown on the edge of the Great Forest to the city for her mother’s career.  As I was reading, I often forgot that Clariel was supposedly 17 – so much of what she did and said made me think she was only 12 or 13.

While the beginning was slow, there were still some redeeming qualities in that first third of the book.  We get to see the Old Kingdom during a different time and from a different angle.  Garth Nix does a great job of further deepening his beautiful world.  We also meet some really cool characters.  So it wasn’t too bad.

AND THEN THINGS GOT CRAZY.  I’m a very expressive person, but I try to limit my all-caps usage.  It’s totally applicable here.  Seriously, I was reading all non-nonchalantly, wondering where things were going, and my husband got home from work.  I put the book down in the middle of a page to talk to him, and then 20 minutes later, I picked it back up again, turned the page, and all hell broke loose.  It was unexpected and awesome.

From then on Clariel was action-packed and heartbreaking and captivating, and I was so invested.  We get to see a familiar character, which was a pleasant surprise, and we also get to see more of his/her (nope – not giving ANYTHING away about him/her) backstory, which makes their actions in the original trilogy even more awesome.

And Garth Nix ends the book in one of my very favorite ways – it’s short and sweet and to the point.  He doesn’t drag the story out too much after the climax.  If anything, it was almost too brief at the end… almost.  So many books I’ve read say too much at the end in my opinion, lessening the effect of the final action.  But that’s just my opinion.

I can’t wait to get my hands on the Old Kingdom short stories, and then finally onto the newest book, Goldenhand.  Such good reading in my future 😀

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