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CLARIEL is a beautiful prequel to the Abhorsen trilogy by Garth Nix. This book follows a young girl named Clariel as her family moves to a big city where the governor and king live. She becomes aware that there are sinister plots involving evil creatures who have not been around for centuries.

Going into this book, I had no idea what to expect, and this fantasy novel surprised me! It is very politically driven and slow-paced. The slow pace was sometimes bothersome, but for the most part I did not mind --- there is a lot of world building in the novel that had to be expressed, and a lot of detail in Garth’s writing style. The pacing also helped me understand this complex world a lot better.

The author knew the world and was able to portray that in this elegant and well-written novel. I loved the different magic levels as well as career levels that were in CLARIEL --- they added dimension to the society and kingdom. Clariel, the main character, fights between the two in an interesting and unique way as she tries to gain independence.

 I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and would recommend it to anyone who loves high fantasy.             

Clariel is a stubborn, hotheaded girl who resents her parents. She was sheltered from the world as a child, and as she begins to realize the truths about her society, she tries to go back to being sheltered and almost hides from her fate. She does what she wants and tries to reach her goals in any way she can, which makes her a very realistic teen girl. She’s also very snippy, and has good-humored banter with the other, equally snippy characters. Clariel uses her cleverness to her advantage, especially when dealing with the political problems. Her curiosity gets her into terrible situations, but she learns how to control it.

The political and magical intrigue in this novel is massive. Being a prequel, I felt like I only got a little snippet of the economic standpoint of society. I wished Garth Nix had elaborated more on this, so we could get a true feel on the city. I felt like I was an outsider who didn’t know the meaning of anything, which frustrated me sometimes. However, I loved how I got a “sneak peek” at the magical elements in the book. This I feel will help readers when they’re introduced to some of the more complex elements of the original trilogy.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and would recommend it to anyone who loves high fantasy. This book would be great for Garth Nix fans old and new. Just be weary that if you do not like slow-paced books that are more about the society and politics, because then CLARIEL might not be for you. I still highly recommend it for anyone willing to give it a go, though!

Reviewed by Christa O., Teen Board Member on November 21, 2014

by Garth Nix

  • Publication Date: August 2, 2016
  • Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult 12+
  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins
  • ISBN-10: 0061561576
  • ISBN-13: 9780061561573