Sorcery of Thorns: 3 ways this fantasy will cast a spell on you


With something of a Howl’s Moving Castle appeal, Margaret Rogerson’s Sorcery of Thorns is a fantastic read for YA and fantasy fans.

No, Sorcery of Thorns doesn’t have quite the same storyline as Howl’s Moving Castle. (It ends up being much more openly serious multiple times.) But this reader couldn’t help but hum the movie’s theme on occasion when reading Margaret Rogerson’s second novel after An Enchantment of Ravens. There’s something of Sophie and Howl in the teenaged Elisabeth and Nathaniel in particular.

But the latter couple’s story concerns how sorcerers are made and what books and stories can tell compared to the real world — just writ with an even more nefarious conspiracy. All in all, though, a fantasy fan looking for something “lighter” might find themselves pleasantly surprised with this 464-page novel, and a YA genre enthusiast has a lot to love, too. As both, let’s just say that I was able to get past some of the flourishes (this is the first time in a long time I’ve seen any author unironically use the word susurrus) and find myself absolutely engrossed.

Here’s why.

Elisabeth and Nathaniel

Nathaniel, by dint of the world that Rogerson’s created, should be almost infallible, but once he decides to step in, Elisabeth doesn’t fade into the shadows. Nor does the mysterious power she has ever seem like it was bestowed only upon her; she’s by no means a Chosen One, simply a one who decides she needs to step up and drags everyone else along behind her.

This includes Nathaniel, who is witty, hides some traumas of his own, and comes with a silver streak in his hair.Both he and Elisabeth have their flaws, but they cover up each other’s weaknesses well, and the romance doesn’t feel forced so much as naturally occurring after their disaster that would play like a meet-cute in another novel. (Kudos to Rogerson for the queer representation as well, making this a fitting Pride Month read; no spoilers who it is. You’ll have to find out yourself.)


The book is dedicated to “all the girls who found themselves in books,” and that same love of books stretches throughout the entire novel. Of course, the grimoires that Elisabeth helps protect, lest they become magical Maleficts, are not the nicest books in the world, but they’re still books.

She’s not the only one of her kind, either, and it’s clear that Rogerson thought carefully about how these books work and what they’re capable of. Elisabeth doesn’t always know what she’s working with, but she can suss it out based on all of her other experiences with books. It’s a testament to the worldbuilding that this all makes sense — and that the books play by rules, even if those rules aren’t explicitly stated.

Silas and Katrien

We can’t say too much about Silas, lest we spoil some things about the book, but we can say who Katrien is. She’s Elisabeth’s friend and fellow apprentice at their Great Library, and she doesn’t disappear halfway through the novel like best friends of main characters have this tendency to do. Instead, she keeps helping and appearing from afar, having her own impact on the story.

Silas is much more involved in the action, but how and why has to remain a mystery. One of the reveals concerning him and Elisabeth does feel like it takes a bit too long to pay off, but that may just be the side effect of reading this book in an afternoon and wanting to get to the grand conspiracy. Either way, they both have their own personalities, feelings, and more; they’re not just accessories to the main characters, and that’s important and necessary.

Next. 10 new YA books to kick your summer off right. dark

Sorcery of Thorns is on sale now.