Sabriel is the first title of Nix’s trilogy, and consequently the name of the main character.
Brief Summary: Two countries separated by an ancient wall. On one side magick is common place and technology is non-existent because the free magick interferes with electronic equipment. The other side does not believe in magick except for those who live and work near the wall where traces of magick can be seen and felt. Here necromancers can use their magick to pull the souls of once living back from the dead and use them as mindless puppets. However sometimes they can become free thinking beings who wield great powers. One type of necromancer called an Abhorsen is a different sort, and only one ever exists at one time.They are someone who puts the dead back to sleep, back into the River of the Afterlife where they belong. The current Abhorsen, Sabriel’s father, goes missing. Having never left her boarding school since dropped off as a child, she must now go in search of her father taking on his role temporary as Abhorsen until he is found.
One reason I love this book (and series) so much is because of it’s unique ways of looking at death, magick, and technology. Here when you die you go into a “river” that has different “gateways”. There are nine in total, and each is a different step down the path of death. You learn a lot about each “district” through each of the books and the significance of them. The fact that Magick is separated by a wall where one side is ruled more “modern day” while the other hails back to the times of kings and queens.
Another reason I enjoy this story is because of the characters, especially Sabriel the main heroine. Even though she becomes afraid, unsure, and at times awkward, she is always a strong character. Well rounded with many emotional levels of not only being a young woman but also the daughter of the Abhorsen, you quickly gain a connection with her on her journey. One thing that stands out a lot to me is even when she has companions or a bit of romance, she never loses her ability to take care her of herself and fight. There are some stories where if the main character is female, as soon as they meet a male counterpart or romantic interest, they suddenly become quite dependent on that person instead of pushing on ahead with their own skills as they had done this entire time. So kudos to Nix on that point!
Throughout this book (and the entire series) there is a really good balanced mix of romance, action, mystery, and fantasy. There is enough detail to give you a good feel of the lay of the land and politics of each country, and cause you to pause and think of how you would deal with the moral choices when Sabriel has to deal with the dead and living. Overall I would suggest this book to anyone who enjoys reading fantasy books, though it is made for YA, it is perfectly enjoyable to read as an adult.