Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sabriel by Garth Nix

“Before I built a wall I'd ask to know What I was walling in or walling out, And to whom I was like to give offence. Something there is that doesn't love a wall, That wants it down.”- Robert Frost, Mending Wall 

What is it about a wall in story that captivates my imagination? In the movie 2004 movie “The Village”, something horrible and deadly lives past “the wall”. In "The Game of Thrones", there is a wall where tired men and criminalized, fringe society boys go to keep back wild things that threaten the kingdom’s northern borders. And of course, we have our very own real walls in real life: The Great Wall of China, Hadrian's Wall, the U.S.-Mexican border, etc.

In Garth Nix’s tale, Sabriel, a wall is used to divide the real world from the magical one. While both worlds are physical, things happen on the other side of the wall that we normal humans don’t want to know anything about, mostly problems with the dead. Sabriel, after the disappearance of her father, becomes the Abhorsen, and becomes responsible for securing the gates of death and making sure the dead stay dead.

In this first book of the series, Sabriel goes to look for her father and attempts to keep one of the more powerful dead beings, Kerrigor, from coming back and causing chaos on the living. Highly readable, this fantasy story keeps a small cast of characters, which I appreciate. I like the use of bells to control the dead, different tones do different things, and each bell has its own name and use. The magical talking cat is cliché, but the hero Touchstone is a welcome character. It’s a young adult story, so it doesn’t get hot and heavy, but if you’ve been considering reading it, then go ahead and pick it up!

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