Book Review & Giveaway (CLOSED): Clariel by Garth Nix

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.

Image credit: Hot Key Books
I’ll be honest – Clariel is the first Garth Nix book I’ve read. Yes, I know that’s surprising given my love for fantasy and the popularity of the series, but at least I’ve read one now, right?

Given that, unsurprisingly it took me a while to get into the book as I had no background knowledge of the series. But now, you’ll be pleased to know, I’m definitely interested in reading the other books in the series – they’re already on my to-read list!

However, Clariel was definitely a slow starter. The middle was the best bit, because the plot had been established and we were getting to know the characters more. Surprisingly, my favourite part was Clariel’s first day at The Academy with the tea ceremony and the introduction to the other students. I also felt the end was a bit rushed. Too much happened too fast, and as a result the book didn’t have the most satisfactory ending. However, I did like the framework of both starting and ending with Marral. This gave the book a nice feel – I’m a sucker for a neat framework like that.

Much as I hate to say it, in places it reminded me of Game of Thrones. That’s not just because they’re both in a similar fantasy genre, but also because of the plot threads. Similar to George R.R. Martin’s writing, at points certain aspects of the plot are just left hanging or not fully resolved. Without giving away spoilers, what happened to the rest of the Academy students? And that event in the middle of the book definitely draws comparisons to the Red Wedding episode of Game of Thrones.


The characters were probably the best bit of the book, alongside the world-building. A good fantasy world should be involving and feel as lifelike as possible within the confines of the story, which Garth Nix does brilliantly. It was complex, especially for YA, but once I got the hang of all the characters, places and ideas I did really enjoy it.

However, the main characters seemed to have a habit of annoying me. Again trying to avoid spoilers, we all knew nothing good would come out of Clariel being in contact with free magic creatures, yet of course she goes and does it anyway. I also wondered why she was so quick to befriend Mogget when she’d only just met him. Thinking about it, there was a lot of characters making stupid decisions, but then I suppose that just makes it more lifelike because everyone has motivation to achieve their goals. On a side note, Bel was by far my favourite character!

Reading back over this review, it sounds pretty negative. I should add that I wrote the notes for the review as soon as I’d finished reading the book, but now I’m actually writing the review my opinions have shifted. Having had time to reflect on it, I think I enjoyed Clariel more than I originally thought.

I did enjoy reading Clariel (especially the middle section) though I suppose if I’d have read the rest of the series previously it would perhaps have made more sense to start with as I wouldn’t have been going in blind. But regardless it’s definitely worth a read, especially if you’re a fan of YA or fantasy, and it’s an essential read if you’re already a Garth Nix fan!

Rating: 4 stars.

So it’s just as well I’ve got another copy to give away to one lucky reader, thanks to the lovely people at Hot Key Books. If you’d like to win yourself a copy, just enter via the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and conditions:
1. Giveaway closes on 26th July 2015 at 11.59pm (GMT).
2. The prize consists of one paperback copy of Clariel by Garth Nix.
3. Upon confirmation of the winner's address, the prize will be posted to the winner by Hot Key Books, NOT The Writing Greyhound.
4. This giveaway is open to UK residents aged 13 and over.
5. The winner will be randomly generated by Rafflecopter once the giveaway has ended.
6. The winner will be informed by email once the giveaway has ended.
7. The winner will have 72 hours to claim their prize. If the winner has not responded by this time, another winner will be announced.

If you don't want to risk your chances in the giveaway, Clariel is available to buy now.

Are you a fan of Garth Nix? Let me know in the comments below!

52 comments:

  1. A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel xx

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    1. I haven't read that one, but Hilary Mantel is an excellent author x

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  2. Tanya Deliyska14 July, 2015 11:37

    The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.

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  3. Summer Sisters by Judy Blume

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    Replies
    1. Judy Blume is a great choice, though I haven't read this particular book before!

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  4. flowers in the attic - virginia andrews

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  5. I loved The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

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    1. Definitely sounds like one for me to check out!

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  6. Lady of Hay by Barbara Erskine
    Claire D

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    Replies
    1. That's interesting because I've seen a lot of negative reviews of this - might have to check it out for myself!

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  7. Uprising by Scott G. Mariani

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  8. i like slave girl by Sarah forsyth

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  9. I have read so many that's it hard to pick one from all time, but I LOVE the series of books that I am reading at the moment. They are the Flavia de Luce books by Alan Bradley. They are great. Perfect for adults and children alike. Would HIGHLY recommend

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    1. I'll check them out, thanks Darrell!

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  10. Richard Moore18 July, 2015 21:49

    I love the Nightworld Series, by L J Smith. My favourite would probably be Witchlight.

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    1. I love that series! Good luck Richard

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  11. Dracula is my all time favourite

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  12. Replies
    1. The sarcasm is strong in this one..

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  13. Replies
    1. The Harry Potter series are my favourite too!

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  14. Little house on the prairie, I plan to re-read the series

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  15. Little Women by Louisa M Alcott

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  16. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, #1)
    by Seth Grahame-Smith

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  17. I don't have one favourite - too many good books out there!

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  18. Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel and the rest of the series - I named my daughter 'Ayla' after the main character.Funnily enough Although I am a brunette she was born blonde and wears it really long just like her namesake !!

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  19. The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho :) x

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