Sara’s Review: Clariel by Garth Nix (audiobook)

Clariel (Abhorsen, #4)Clariel
written by Garth Nix, narrated by Graeme Malcom
published by HarperCollins

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

Did I enjoy this book:
 Yes and no. I have been waiting for this book for years, literally. I had very high expectations for it. I fell in love with Nix’s Old Kingdom when I was just a teenager. The first three books in the trilogy are what prompted me to fall in love with the Young Adult Fantasy genre in the first place, and when I heard Nix was writing a prequel for the series, I was over the moon!

When I finally found the time to dig into this book (after its release in October), I was disappointed to discover that I don’t even like the main character. Clariel is a cold, distant loner who really only cares about herself and getting to go live in the forest alone. She cares nothing for the rich history of Charter Magic that she has inherited or the political intrigue that fills the city. These two elements are some of my favorite aspects of Nix’s Old Kingdom Series. I love his world building and the wonderful descriptions of the all-encompassing Charter that flows within us all. I spent most of the book being bitter with the titular character for not embracing her magical heritage because for goodness’ sake, I would take her place in a heartbeat.

I know that it is a prequel and that she is going to become an antagonist in the later books but still, her character wasn’t compelling at all. The young female heroines from the rest of the series are strong, brave, selfless, women who would do whatever it takes to save their world and the people they love. They were characters that I looked up to and wanted to be like. Clairiel . . . not so much.

Despite having little to no positive feelings toward the main character, I managed to enjoy the book. (Mostly by riding the memories of how much I enjoyed the original trilogy.) I enjoyed my little visit to Nix’s Old Kingdom. I loved the political strife intertwined with magical creatures trying to undo the world (I mean, who doesn’t like that stuff?).

The narrator, Graeme Malcom, did a fabulous job bringing the different characters to life and keeping me interested (despite the fact that I couldn’t stand the main character). I especially enjoyed his portrayal of Mogget, the Charter bound Free Magic creature and companion to the Abhorson who has appeared in all of the previous books. I felt the narration really captured the complex character and brought him to life.


Would I recommend it: If you are interested in the genre, I would recommend you read the first three books in the series. IF you really need another Old Kingdom fix once you’ve finished those, Clariel can scratch that itch, but it will most likely leave you wanting more.


About the book – from Goodreads: Sixteen-year-old Clariel is not adjusting well to her new life in the city of Belisaere, the capital of the Old Kingdom. She misses roaming freely within the forests of Estwael, and she feels trapped within the stone city walls. And in Belisaere she is forced to follow the plans, plots and demands of everyone, from her parents to her maid, to the sinister Guildmaster Kilp. Clariel can see her freedom slipping away. It seems too that the city itself is descending into chaos, as the ancient rules binding Abhorsen, King and Clayr appear to be disintegrating.

With the discovery of a dangerous Free Magic creature loose in the city, Clariel is given the chance both to prove her worth and make her escape. But events spin rapidly out of control. Clariel finds herself more trapped than ever, until help comes from an unlikely source. But the help comes at a terrible cost. Clariel must question the motivations and secret hearts of everyone around her – and it is herself she must question most of all.




  1. I have this one on my TBR shelf. I won it via Boost It Tuesday. I read the series so long ago, I’m debating re-reading the series before jumping into Clariel.

    Terri M., the Director
    Second Run Reviews

    • Terri, So sorry I didn’t get a chance to reply until now. Congrats on winning on BIT! I just wanted to let you know that if you haven’t gotten a chance to re-read the rest of the series yet I wouldn’t worry about it. Clariel is pretty stand alone because it happens so far before the plot of the rest of the books. I ADORED the rest of the series and I would always advocate for re-reading them…but it is certainly not necessary before Clairel…in fact, it may make Clariel a bit of a let down…just my two cents. Thanks for the comment!