This book has been tucked away in my nightstand for more than a year. I think I picked it up at my parents’ library at the perpetual book sale they have there. And last week, I was looking for something plot-driven to read, so I pulled this out. I enjoyed it very much, so much so that I gave up some blessed hours of sleep to finish it last night.

The basic plot, no spoilers intended, is that a young woman, Sabriel, finds out that her father is in trouble, trapped in Death in fact, and she must find a way to save him. In the meantime, as is the way with most good fantasy novels (and perhaps most novels in general), she begins to discover more about herself along the way. She makes friends; she fights battles – the usual.

But Nix’s novel isn’t quite the usual read for me because, like Pullman’s Dark Materials Trilogy, a set that this book and it’s sequels are often compared to, I found this battle between good and evil, Death and Life, to be personally very engrossing. I’m not a very sensitive reader when it comes to reading about evil or darkness, but this book made me a bit edgy, nervous, like Nix was describing the darkness of the world in ways that make it more real. I’m not sure I’m explaining that well, but in the end, the book kind of freaked me out because of how frightening some of these things were. This seems a success of the book to me – that I would relate to the fear that the characters are feeling.

I also loved the protagonist Sabriel because, while unsure of herself in some ways, she steps into her calling, her vocation, with all the vigor and belief she can summon. Recently, I’ve been very interested in the ways that people – and the world around them – come/s alive when they follow their calling. So this book furthered those queries for me.

There’s a cat-like creature named Mogget, a boy named Touchstone (loved that Shakespeare reference), some scary creatures, a lot of legend, and great stories of magic and mystery. It makes for a good (and quick) read, and while I don’t think it’s quite as good as Pullman’s work, I did enjoy it and will hope to finish the trilogy soon.

In the meantime, I’d love to pass along my sort of battered copy to someone if they’d like to read it. The corners are worn, and someone has written “HMS Rm 10” on the top of the spine, but it’s intact, clean, and free. So if you’d like to have a chance at this book, post a comment here; for additional chances, blog about this review, link back to it (and let me know), and/or Twitter about the post, and I’ll give you more chances. The winner will be chosen at random on Friday, March 13th.

Sabriel by Garth NixSabriel by Garth Nix