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New Abhorsen Novel | Book Review: Clariel by Garth Nix

Clariel offers high fantasy fun and free magic.

Book Review: Clariel by Garth Nix

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clariel garth nix book review

Title & Author: Clariel: The Lost Abhorsen by Garth Nix

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy – High Fantasy

Release Date: October 14, 2014

Series: Abhorsen #4

Publisher: HarperCollins

How I Got the Book: ARC via the publisher


“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.”

Hardcore Sass Fest

If you’ve never read the Abhorsen series, or it’s been a very long time since you have, then have no fear.

Even though Clariel is technically Abhorsen #4 in the series, it can definitely be read as a standalone book. The magic and setting is explained well, despite its complexity. I mean, I think reading the other books are in your best interest because they’re awesome, but they are not needed to enjoy this book.

I was drawn into the story immediately. Clariel is one tough girl. She knows what she wants and she’s willing to do almost anything to get it. I liked her spunk and iron will – it allows her speak her mind without care of the consequences.

There is a lot of interesting magic described in the story. I’m not sure I’ve ever read a more in-depth, totally unusual magic system anywhere else. It’s hard to describe, so I’ll leave that up to Nix. If you enjoy it, then Sabriel should definitely be the next book on your list.

Note: This is one of those books were you think you’re being tricked in the romance department. Clariel says many times that she is not interested in getting married or really boys at all. So, you start thinking, “Oh, I see what’s happening – she IS going to fall in love because they’re laying this idea on pretty thick.” And you would be wrong. There is basically no romance in the story.

I normally don’t enjoy books that don’t have some romance, but the concept of the book and its execution were so great that I didn’t mind there was a serious lack of kissing and swooning. It’s actually kind of nice to hear a heroine say, “Yeah, I’m gonna do this life thing solo” and mean it.


Lovers of high fantasy will definitely appreciate the newest Abhorsen book. The complex magic and strong-willed heroine were the highlights of this story, along with a refreshing absence of swoony moments. Clariel is a great addition to this epic fantasy series.

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.
  • Tessa~


    “Here there be musing” blog

  • Sooo looking forward to this book!! It needs to be October NOW.