This review can also be read on my blog, Stumptown Books
Everything that was awesome about the first installation of the series, Sabriel
, got completely muddled and lost in this sequel. I loved
the first book, and had high hopes with following it up. Those hopes have been dashed. Mercilessly.
We begin with Lirael, only 14, a daughter of the Clayr. She decides the best way we could possibly be introduced to her as a character is for a wallowing in self pity depression session and contemplation of suicide. I don't know about you, dear readers, but that is not a good way for me to get on our lovely heroine's side. I'm much more likely to say, Fine, jump off the cliff, it will at least put ME out of my misery. Now you may think this sounds heartless. And, well...you have a good point, that's pretty mean. While I suppose
the whole "feel sorry for me" schtick was to allow us to see her grow as a character, all it managed to do for me was make me want to slap her, followed by throwing the book down. I managed to not do either, intent that the book had to go up hill from here.
How wrong I was.
We're introduced to the second character, Prince Sameth, and he starts off pretty strong. I'm convinced at this point that the chapter introducing him was written first, because it's the only time in the whole book that he's ok with taking charge. He's the son of Sabriel and Touchstone and destined to be the new Abhorsen. Great, I think. Now we're in for some action! The good feelings don't last. He quickly falls even deeper than Lirael in the self pity pool; I was secretly wishing he would die. Seriously. Two main characters that go around bemoaning their terrible fates of not fitting in. If only someone out there understood how unique they are! Ugh, spare me.
Sabriel and Touchstone are unfortunately only background characters, but Mogget makes a reappearance and as per usual, the animals are the best part of the book. We're introduced to the Disreputable Dog, who quickly becomes the best character, and she's a dog
! Any conversation involving either of the two animals is bound to be chuckle inducing, so at least that didn't change from Sabriel
. Honestly I would have been way more excited with the adventures of Mogget and the Dog than I-have-no-backbone Prince Sameth and no-one-understands-my-pain Lirael. But I digress.
Besides the animal characters, the best part of the book was exploring the Clayr's library. Something about the thrill of exploration in crazy magical buildings always gets my jollies going. It was like exploring Hogwarts again, only a lot more deadly. I would have been happy with more exploration except that it was from Lirael's point of view, and that left me with laryngitis from heavy sighing.
I will be regretfully reading the next in the series, hoping that the payoff is worth it. Otherwise, read Sabriel
and leave it at that.