This recent release is set in a fantasy world full of living books, demons and cunning schemes for power. Elizabeth has grown up in a Great Library, surrounded by living grimoires full of demonic magic that just wait for the opportunity to run rampant. She knows these books like friends, which ones are social, which are mischievous and most importantly which are dangerous. All she has ever wanted to be was a Warden, a guardian posted at a Great Library. But when the Library’s director is murdered and Elizabeth is dragged away from the only home she’s ever known, she is thrust into the very thing she’s been raised to fear; magic.
Now she’s stuck with Nathanial, a powerful young sorcerer, and his servant Sylus, who seems anything but human. Nathanial was like many love interests; sarcastic, mysterious and darkly handsome. Yet his sense of humour and his personality made him instantly likeable, which made it even more frustrating when Elizabeth wouldn’t see past her ingrained fear of ‘the evil sorcerer’. Again, like many YA love interests, he was prone to brooding, suffering under a tragic backstory. Yet his backstory was unique, beyond tragic and really helps you understand Nathanial’s personality and behaviour.
Even while she was frightened and confused, the two – or three, including Sylus – made great partners, Elizabeth with her talented sword skills, Nathanial wielding incredible magic and Sylus instantly taking out anyone that gets too close. When she finally saw him for the good man he was, they made an unstoppable force which was enthralling to read.
Elizabeth is the heroine I’ve been waiting for from recent releases. Finally, a girl who isn’t petite like in many YA books, but taller than most men, full of lanky limbs and too short clothes. Paired with her fighting skills, brains and love of books, plus her special bond with the grimoires – almost akin to that of friends or family – made her one of my favourite characters. It was refreshing how she wasn’t fearless or overly brave like many tough characters but was realistically terrified.
For the first section of the book, the villain was a mystery, but when he did appear he was fantastic. Not only was a perfect villain for the time period and world, he was an excellent of example of how a charming exterior can hide the darkest of interiors. His goals were believable and realistic – though yes I will agree that they may not have been the most original, but just because many people share the goals and desires doesn’t mean they are unoriginal. I don’t want to spoil it too much, but I love his intricate plans that were difficult to figure out for most of the book and how charming he was.
This fantasy world had a society and feel similar to that of the Victorian era, where politicians play their games, noble blooded families hold great status and young ladies should know their place. In addition to these real-world style elements, this land is full of demons and magic. Demons are bound to a human as their servant, enabling the human to wield magic and became a sorcerer. These sorcerers, especially those from long, noble lines, hold a high rank in society. I loved this take on demons, they were such a common, accepted part of their world and were accepted with caution but without fear and panic (so long as they were bound to their master). The lore and magic of the demons and grimoires were woven with every part of the plot, continuing to build right up until the end. A really wonderful, unique fantasy world.
This book had so many twists and surprises, three-fourths of the way through I thought everything had been solved until another twist and reveal! The climax literally had me tearing up (the audiobook performance really helped enhance the emotion). I did really hate how part of the climax was inferred rather than shown – I’d been waiting for the entire book to see this scene and suddenly we were just skipped past it. Other than that, I absolutely loved this book. I give it 5/5 and it is already one of my all-time favourites. I really loved the world, magic system and characters, and I can’t wait to read more!