Clariel by Garth Nix: one for the children

Sixteen-year-old Clariel is not adjusting well to her new life in the city of Belisaere, the capital of the Old Kingdom. She misses roaming freely within the forests of Estwael, and she feels trapped within the stone city walls. And in Belisaere she is forced to follow the plans, plots and demands of everyone, from her parents to her maid to the sinister Guildmaster Kilip. Clariel can see her freedom slipping away. It seems too that the city itself is descending into chaos, as the ancient rules binding Abhorsen, King and Clayr appear to be disintegrating.

With the discovery of a dangerous Free Magic creature loose in the city, Clariel is given the chance both to prove her worth and make her escape. But events spin rapidly out of control. Clariel finds herself more trapped than ever, until help comes from an unlikely source. But the help comes at a terrible cost. Clariel must question the motivations and secret hearts of everyone around her – and it is herself she must question most of all.

My review:

This is the first (and I think only) book by Garth Nix that I’ve read, or will read. It came across very much as a children’s fantasy book and not really that engaging for adults. That’s absolutely fine of course, but I wish I’d known this before I started. The beginning is very slow so it was a relief to get to the middle where the plot started to kick in.

Then a lot of things (murder! journeys! danger!) happen all at once which is great, but then it got a bit out of hand and there was way too much happening by the end so I lost interest and started skipping. It was odd because I started off really liking Clariel, but when she began to actually do something, I couldn’t work out her reasoning so found her rather facile. Oh, and I hated the pesky cat. We really didn’t need it – a bit of a ‘MacGuffin”. So, all in all, an okay read for the young, but not for me.

Anne Brooke Books

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