I wanted to be able to write a fabulous review of Clariel, I really did. But I can’t. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Clariel but I didn’t love it.
I’m a huge fan of Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom books and was looking forward to another encounter with the Charter Mages, the Clayr, necromancers and hosts of the Dead. I didn’t really get that.
Clariel as a main character is likeable enough. She’s strong-willed and I identified with her feeling trapped in a life she didn’t want. However, I sometimes found her too self-absorbed. She wasn’t interested in anything going on around her. Her thoughts were always occupied with escaping back to her forest home. As such, the threats to the city lacked immediacy as they were always described against the back-drop of Clariel’s plan to escape rather than being part of the main plot. Consequently, when the bad-guys made a move it came as a bit of a surprise and didn’t really seem to fit with what had gone before.
However, once the enemy was revealed and Clariel was whisked to the Abhorsen’s house, this finally began to feel like an Old Kingdom book. Now we get the Charter, the bells used to bind the dead, the danger of Free Magic creatures, and all the other wonderful features that inhabit the Old Kingdom.
And Mogget! Mogget was back! (If you don’t know, he’ a free magic creature who’s been given the form of a cat and serves the Abhorsen. He steals the show whenever he’s around).
The story ended well, with exciting twists involving Free Magic creatures, the Abhorsen and the culmination of Clariel’s revenge. It was also quite poignant at the end.
So overall I enjoyed it and if you like Garth Nix’s books you’ll probably enjoy it too.