Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Book #1 - Alphabet of Thorn
BOOK #1: Alphabet of Thorn by Patricia McKillip
I finished this book on March 6th, 2012 after only a few days of reading it. Alphabet of Thorn is a fantasy novel, but before any non-fantasy lovers groan as they think of wizards and hobbits, give it another chance! I first encountered McKillip while interning at Shaker High School this fall, when I read The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, another favorite that I may later review! I have always been a lover of the Harry Potter series, as anyone who knows me should know. =) However, I have never been a huge fantasy buff, and was apprehensive about interning in a Science Fiction and Fantasy elective class this past fall. However, when my supervising teacher introduced me to McKillip, I fell in love with her writing style. Her words are truly beautiful and even breathtaking sometimes. Her characters are dynamic and I became so invested in them. I couldn't wait to get my hands on more of her work.
Alphabet of Thorn is a novel about a young woman named Nepenthe who is an orphan, and has been raised by royal librarians (pretty much my dream upbringing...haha just kidding ;) ). She has been taught to translate ancient books written in various mysterious languages over the years. However, when she is brought a secret book written in a language of symbols that look like thorns, she not only faces one of the most difficult translations of her life, but the book may hold more power than she thought. The novel goes back and forth between Nepenthe's present, and an ancient legend described in the thorn language, that may have more impact on the present situation than anyone could have guessed. The kingdom is in danger and under the new rule of a young, unstable Queen, and Nepenthe must race against time to solve the mystery of the thorns before it's too late.
Once again, McKillip drew me in with her lyrical language, and riveting mysteries. Obviously the protagonist's love for literature felt familiar to me, but magic was also very present in the novel, and it was a different kind of magic than I had encountered before. I would recommend this novel to any lover of fantasy for sure, but also to those who have only dabbled in the genre. It is a great novel to try if you have not read much fantasy and aren't sure how you feel about it yet. I think it's likely that this book could sway at least a few readers to read more fantasy novels in the future.
"Imagination is the golden-eyed monster that never sleeps. It must be fed; it cannot be ignored."- Patricia A. McKillip