Hiyo, everyone! Today, I will be writing a short review of Abhorsen, which is the sequel to Lirael, which I reviewed here. As before, I will try to avoid including too many spoilers for Abhorsen. That said, there will be plenty of spoilers for Lirael in this review. Without them, it would be difficult to adequately describe the premise of the book.
The story picks up where Lirael left us, at the ancestral home of the Abhorsen, whose role it is to deal with threats posed by the dead. We have just learned that Sam, one of the main characters from the previous book, is not actually the Abhorsen-in-waiting, but that Lirael is, and she is also Sam’s aunt. Across the Old Kingdom, at a place called the Red Lake, a necromancer named Hedge has possessed Sam’s friend, Nick, and is using him as a vessel for Orannis, a deadly, ancient being Hedge seeks to revive. Naturally, it’s up to Lirael and Sam (as well as their companions, the Disreputable Dog and Mogget) to travel to the Red Lake and put a stop to Hedge’s plan.
The group faces all sorts of dead and magical threats along the way, and they suffer through a journey that pulls no punches regarding how tiring and disheartening traveling on foot can be. As they make their journey, we continue to learn about their personalities. Abhorsen largely builds on Lirael in this regard; there are few new characters of much import, but the old ones must adapt to their new places in the world, and therefore, their views about themselves.
As a side note, it was an absolute thrill to read the passages from Nick’s perspective. As a half-possessed skeptic surrounded by the dead who still clings to a scientific worldview, his reasoning is quite amusing to behold.
I believe that Lirael and Abhorsen are better read as a single story than as two separate novels. The point at which the former ends and the latter begins feels somewhat arbitrary, and I don’t think Lirael really closed many of the key story arcs. Much of Abhorsen felt like part of the climax of the story we’d been waiting for in the previous novel. Therefore, I recommend reading these books together.
I would also like to note that I loved the imagery in Abhorsen, especially the in-depth description of Death (the place where the dead go). More of that realm was shown in Abhorsen than in either Lirael or Sabriel, and that world was simultaneously haunting and fascinating to explore.
I won’t be discussing the ending in any detail; all I will say is it felt a bit abrupt and left a few questions unanswered. Overall, I rate Abhorsen 4/5.
Have you read any of Garth Nix’s work? If so, which stories, and what did you think? If not, what have you been reading instead? I’m eager to hear from you. Buh-bye for now; Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!