Book Review: Sabriel by Garth Nix

Most writers knows exactly which author or story influenced them to become who they are and what they are. I know quite a few who quote Hemingway, Kerouac, or Eyre, all explaining how influential their style and storytelling techniques were.

I wish I could pinpoint a single author that inspired me in my writing, but that epiphany actually stems from a single character who was the namesake in a stand-alone novel called Sabriel.


The moment I flipped open the stained, used pages of Undermountain Elementary School’s paperback copy, I knew Sabriel would become the sister I never had. This singular character fought haunts, emotionally and physically, whilst battling through the harrowing experience of losing her father and coming into a title that she was both terrified and excited to uphold. She was intelligent, brave, nonjudgmental, and secure. Her confidence gave me confidence to follow through in my own gift, even though becoming a writer is a far cry from becoming an Abhorsen.

This is why, on the 20th Anniversary of author Garth Nix publishing the beloved novel Sabriel, I write this review. Sabriel began as a stand-alone novel, has continued to win novels since its release, and has inspired an anthology, numerous expansions, and an enormous fiction writing fanbase. I would suggest this novel to any fantasy lover, especially someone who enjoys the complications of character building and the intricate melding of a high fantasy world with modern society.

I am only a little biased, since I have since followed each and every novel that Nix has put out (a few of his novels didn’t make it through moves from location to location, including the flagship Sabriel paperback), but I still have to say that this was the most brilliant and compelling novel he has come out with. I love the themes of education, loyalty, life and death, family, and love over lust. Some of these play as back players in the novel, but have always been a lasting impression on me. I urge every reader here to pick up Sabriel and follow along with the young protagonist, eager to learn with her and grow with her.