The first book in a YA fantasy trilogy, Abhorsen.

Publication year: 1995
Finnish publication year: 2004
Format: Print
Translator: Kaisa Kattelus
Page count: 389
Finnish publisher: WSOY

Sabriel is the only child of Abhorsen, the necromancer whose mission is to put the dead to rest. Because in the Old Kingdom, the dead can’t rest unless someone performs the necessary rites for them. Otherwise, they threaten the living.

But Sabriel has grown up on Anceltierre, on the other side of the Wall. Magic starts to fade the further away you go from the Wall and most people don’t who don’t live near the Wall don’t even believe in magic. Instead, they have technology which in turn doesn’t work in the Old Kingdom. Sabriel has grown in a boarding school. Her father comes to see her a couple of times a year in person; also during full moons he can send his spirit self (dunno what that was in English).

Sabriel is now eighteen and thinking of going to university. She has powers that allows her to sense the dead and see dead spirits. She can also cross over to Death and return. She thinks that going further away from the Wall would make her powers disappear. She’s the only one in her school who has such powers, so she thinks it would be a good thing. The boarding school does teach a little bit of magic, though, but not necromancy.

But then her father sends a dead spirit to her as a messenger. It brings Sabriel a sword and the nine bells which are her father’s tools. She knows that he’s in terrible trouble, maybe even dead. She packs what she can and heads to the Old Kingdom where the dead roam. However, a terrible enemy stalks her.

This was surprisingly intense and fun read. Sabriel is a smart and determined main character. She quickly realizes that there are a lot of things she doesn’t know and she does her best to learn. She’s also compassionate and does her best to help people. We explore the Old Kingdom along with her. There wasn’t much character developed, though.

The magic in this world is pretty complex. There’s Charter magic which is “good” or at least something that respectable people use and then there’s wild magic which includes necromancy. Only Abhorsen and Sabriel use both.

However, I didn’t care for the romance which seems obligatory, at best, and I also don’t care for plots where the people close to the MC simply don’t tell her stuff. Abhorsen wasn’t just careless, he was stupid to keep his daughter in the dark. The POV jumps were distracting, at times. Sabriel was the main POV character but sometimes we got small passages from other characters’ POV.

Overall, I liked this and will get the next one when the libraries open.