Literally, my reaction AHHHH.

Retro Friday reviews are hosted by Angieville. Basically you review an older title on Fridays.

I am a fan of cool magic systems, the after life and it’s various incarnations, and zombie-esque creatures. I am also a fan of fantasy, especially YA fantasy. Unfortunately my background was sorely lacking because I never picked up Sabriel by Garth Nix as a teen despite it’s numerous awards. Straight up, that makes me a stupid ass, because contained within Sabriel are multitudes of awesome.

Sabriel, Garth Nix, Book Cover


Okay, so we begin with a mysterious prologue and a baby and death and all italics. Then we get to the crux of the story. Sabriel’s dad, Abhorsen, has disappeared. Well, he’s in death which consists of gates which are like levels which you should just trust me on this and go read the book. So, Sabriel inherits his sword and bandolier which holds named bells that necromancers use which have certain powers over the dead. Right, so Sabriel previously is in a normal part of the world, modern and all, called Ancelstierre at a bording school. All the crazy magic and stuff happens in a place called the Old Kingdom which is separated from Ancelstierre by a magical wall formed by Charter Magic. Anyways, Sabriel leaves Ancelstierre to go on a journey to find dear old dad and put things to rights in Old Kingdom.

However, she doesn’t go it alone. There’s Mogget, the free magic spirit in the form of a cat who is awesome like Grimalkin. Actually, probably more awesome to be honest because Mogget becomes seven different kinds of badass at certain secret points. Also Touchstone! Touchstone is a male of undetermined but appropriate age who doesn’t remember his past. But holy moly slow burnz, Mr. Touchstone. The sizzle, y’all the sizzle.

Straight up, the world building and the magic system were believable and well developed. Sabriel had weaknesses and wasn’t full of weird deus ex machina powers.  She had limits. And guys, I love the idea of bells and their rings being magical and powerful.

PLUS the characters do not suck. I wasn’t like good lord kill this pile of suck off because they are literally too dumb to live. Which brings me to the point that Sabriel actually has brains AND uses them. It’s more than just the author saying she is smart and turning around and having her do dumb things. Instead, Sabriel does intelligent things and fights the dead and ahhhh.

Literally, my reaction AHHHH.

Basically, Sabriel by Garth Nix kicks ass, has a sweet magic system, rocking characters, a taste of romance and zombies. In all, it is awesome and I recommend it with all my heart.

Disclosure: Purchased copy.

Read as part of my Fill In The Gaps project.

Other Reviews of Sabriel by Garth Nix:

Forever Young Adult
Bird Brain (ed) Book Blog

Purchase Sabriel here. (FYI the link is to the 6.99 kindle version).*FYI I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you if you buy things from Amazon after clicking link.

About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. Have never read these — really didn’t know much about them, even though they have been sitting on my library shelves, and at least used to get checked out a lot. Thanks for the heads up. I think I’ll put this one on the list.

  2. I love this series. I think Sabriel was my favorite of the series, but I liked Lirael because she is a cool librarian! I am so glad you enjoyed this book. Mogget has to be one of my all time favorite characters!

  3. Love Sabriel. It’s so creepy and tense and yet still romantic. The sequels? Didn’t care for them, personally.

    But you’ve got to listen to the audiobook, which is awesome. It’s read by Tim Curry (which is awesome in itself, right?), and basically Sabriel + Tim Curry = utter brilliance.

  4. Loved Sabriel so much. I read it about a year ago – wish I’d picked it up before! And Mogget definitely was awesome! Glad you enjoyed it :).

  5. This has been my favorite series for a long long long long time and I’m always sad that so many people missed it.

    I loved Lirael like whoa. That’s the next in the series & you should read it ASAP. I’ve also listened to Lirael on audiobook. It was my first audiobook ever (awww).

    Did you know Garth Nix is selling little charm bells? I want Kibeth like WHOA but Australian shipping is ludicrous.

    Apparently I am in the mood to say “like whoa” a lot tonight.

    • I keep trying to find links to the charm bells, but can’t seem to. I want one though to live on my desk, because that would be AWESOME.

      I definitely hope more people end up checking out Sabirel. Hopefully more reviews pop up on blogs or something.

  6. Yay, I’m thrilled that you loved this book because it’s one of my favorites and it hasn’t gotten that many reviews on the blogosphere. I keep meaning to reread it so I can review it on the blog but well, the TBR pile has taken over my life. Loved the characters that you mentioned – Sabriel, Mogget and Touchstone. And this is my favorite book in the Abhorsen trilogy. I look forward to seeing what you think of the next two books!

  7. If I had a penny for every time I picked this up at the library and for whatever dumbass reason put it back…I’d be rich. I have NO clue why I haven’t read this yet because it’s caught my eye literally like 8 million times over the years. I think it’s time for me to finally pick it up. Great review, as always! 🙂

  8. How am I supposed to not want to read this book with a post title like that. I mean, really.

  9. Isn’t Sabriel such a fierce character? I loved her and that she’s a bit older. And the whole bells necromancer thing. Brilliantly imagined.

    Also. Mogget!

  10. These books are fantastic – Abhorsen (the last one) is my favorite. I read it a few years ago and I still sometimes reminisce about how awesome it was.

  11. I’m pretty sure my sister read this one ages ago (back when it wasn’t cool to have a little sister taking your stuff and she always hid the books she was reading from me so I couldn’t take them) but I never went back to it. I definitely need to make this one a priority!


  1. […] by Garth Nix and Sean Williams Book Reviewby April (Books&Wine) on October 18, 2011Y’all, Garth Nix knows how to write a prologue, or at least I’m going to assume Nix wrote the prologue, but […]

  2. […] April at Good Books Good Wine: “Basically, Sabriel by Garth Nix kicks ass, has a sweet magic system, rocking characters, a taste of romance and zombies. In all, it is awesome and I recommend it with all my heart.” […]

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