(Old Kingdom, Book One)
By Garth Nix
Format: Audio Book
Narrator: TIM FREAKING CURRY *Applauds*
Length: 10 hours & 28 minutes
Genres: Fiction, Young-adult, Adventure, Fantasy, Magic
Take a Peek: Audible | Overdrive | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads
Rating: 4 Stars
Okay I’m just going to be honest, Tim Curry’s magical narration accounts for a good chunk of my four star review. And by a “good chunk,” I mean about half. It was so awesome you guys. This is one instance where the difference between listening and reading is glaringly obvious. If I had been reading the hard copy of this novel, there is no way I would have finished it.
This book is about young Sabriel who is the daughter of the Abhorsen. In this world, an Abhorsen is basically a necromancer that’s in charge of the dead. They make sure spirits cross over okay, help those who are stuck, save the people who can be saved, and have the ability to travel into the afterlife. He’s pretty much a low key bad ass. In the prologue, he saves Sabriel from death by traveling into the realm of the dead and snatching her from a monster determined to get revenge. Uh-oh. Fast forward 18 years and Sabriel is at a private school where magic isn’t really the norm, making her easy powers stand out. Still, she’s an excellent student that everyone loves and is even a Prefect. Every night she uses magic to talk to her father, something that freaks her teachers out, but they smartly ignore. On one of these scheduled talks, instead of getting a visit from the Abhorsen, a mysterious black figure appears carrying her father’s bag that holds his sword and magical bells. Sabriel immediately knows something has happened to her father and sets out on an adventure to save him. Along the way she meets Mogget—the best friggin’ sassy talking cat since Sabrina the Teenage Witch—and eventually Touchstone who holds the key to finding her father and defeating the zombie bad guys.
I’m so conflicted about this one. Going into this book, I was so excited. The prompt made it sound like an amazing story, but man did I get freaking bored during the first half. It confused me because all of the elements I normally love in fantasy books are there. Sabriel is a kick ass independent woman with a good head on her shoulders, the magical world is amazingly built, there’s tons of action, and Mogget is hilarious—enough to make me want to buy a cat and name it after him.
Throughout the entire beginning though, I was constantly losing focus and needed to rewind the audio to make sure I really understood what was going on. Take it from me, this is one of those stories that if you miss even a little bit, you’ll be confused as hell going forward. If it hadn’t been for Tim Curry’s amazing cat impressions and repeatedly saying the word “knickerbockers,” I don’t think I would have made it through. And it definitely would have been put down and forgotten had I been actually reading it.
Thankfully, Sabriel stumbles across a very naked, wooden Touchstone and managed to rekindle my interest. #SorryNotSorry
After that, the story really picks up and I loved it. I had to fight the urge to give it a five star rating because the ending is so great. There’s tons of action, running, zombies, and awesome Sabriel who manages to be her own hero without a male savior. *Fist pumps*
If you’re anything like me and some of the other reviewers I’ve seen on Goodreads, hang tight during the first half because the last chunk makes it a worthwhile read.
And for the love of god, please do yourself a favor a listen to the audio book.