At long last, fantasy master Nix returns to the story of Lirael.
Six months after the close of Abhorsen (2003), half sisters Sabriel and Lirael, Abhorsen and Abhorsen-in-Waiting, respectively, stand in Death. Their quarry: Chlorr of the Mask. Chlorr’s body was dispatched, but her spirit didn’t pass the Ninth Gate to the final death. Now one of the Greater Dead, Chlorr won’t die until her anchor in Life is found and severed. Meanwhile, in the North, pursued by enemies, a fiercely determined nomad called Ferin journeys to deliver a vital message to the Clayr. Chapters alternate between Ferin and Lirael, who first travels to nonmagical Ancelstierre to assist friend Nicholas Sayre and later converges with Ferin at the Clayr’s Glacier. Ferin’s message: a warning and instructions concerning Chlorr from Lirael’s long-dead mother. Never lacking in action, the story is equally concerned with showcasing Lirael’s evolution: experience has cultivated her confidence in herself and her abilities—though she’s still quiet and endearingly uncertain at times (especially regarding her romantic interest in Nick). Devotees will find her growth immensely satisfying and empathize with her aching, enduring grief over the loss of her best friend, the Disreputable Dog. Nix’s signature talent is in full effect, creating strong female characters, lucid descriptions, and an absorbing plot. Knowledge of previous Old Kingdom stories isn’t a prerequisite, but readers who take the time to go back to them will not regret it. Brown-skinned Ferin brings cultural diversity to Nix’s largely white England-analogue world.
A masterfully spun tale well worth the yearslong wait. (Fantasy. 14 & up)