Cover Abhorsen: A woman wearing a bandolier of bells holding her hands up

About the Book

Title: Abhorsen (Abhorsen #3)
Published: 2003
Series: Abhorsen
Swoonworthy Scale: 2

Cover Story: Uniquely Depicted
BFF Charm: Yay x2
Talky Talk: A Marathon
Bonus Factors: The Army, Sassy Animals
Relationship Status: But Wait, There’s More!

Careful, Sweetie: spoilers! This is the third book in the Abhorsen series, so if you haven’t read Sabriel or Lirael, you should probably hop back in the TARDIS and go curl up with the prior books in the library by the pool before continuing.

Cover Story: Uniquely Depicted

Like before, this cover is of a significant moment that you’ll clearly recognize once you get to it. These books have always stood out on my shelf with their all-black jackets and unique illustrations, and I much prefer this look to the current versions with floating Charter Magic symbols. (Side note: Doesn’t that bell bandolier look super uncomfy?)

The Deal:

Abhorsen picks up right where Lirael leaves off, with Lirael and Sam stuck in the Abhorsen’s house as Chlorr and her Dead Hands surround all their exits. Their escape is harrowing, but it’s only the start of what seems like an impossible race against time. They have to defeat Hedge, the evil necromancer; rescue Sam’s friend, Nick, from a certain death and brainwashing; and try to keep the Destroyer from escaping his prison and murdering everyone on the planet. All within a day’s work for an Abhorsen-in-Waiting! Haha, just kidding; Lirael is freaking out, but luckily she’s got her nephew, her Abhorsen servant, and her faithful doggie friend by her side.

We also stop by Ancelstierre to check in with Sabriel and Touchstone, who still have the cutest rapport after twenty plus years together (#relationshipgoals), but to say any more about their storyline would be to provide spoilage, so I will let you learn about their journey yourself.

BFF Charm: Yay x2

2 BFF charms

While it’s only been a minute since we hung out with Lirael and Sameth, they’ve had to grow leaps and bounds in order to keep up with the Tour de Destruction Hedge and Nick are leaving in their wake as they march towards Ancelstierre. You won’t see any more whining from these two; they’ve got a purpose and they are determined to succeed. I would be happy to continue being friends with both, but maybe, like, casual friends who see each other at fun group gatherings such as magical game night or book club. In their prominent roles in the Old Kingdom, they seem to attract trouble (and, uh, DEAD THINGS) so I would be totally fine with hearing the recaps of those events and not actually being there. I bet it’s really hard to get the dead’s smell out of your clothes.

Swoonworthy Scale: 2

Once again, this is not a kissing book. Ain’t nobody got time for that! The world could end in a week! Lirael and a certain someone do share a few…significant looks, let’s say, but nothing is explicitly stated.

Talky Talk: A Marathon

This book is like one long point A to point B race with a horrible participation ribbon at the end if you don’t win. It’s hard to take a breath when the pressure is on, so in tone this feels much different from Lirael where we spent most of our time learning the characters’ backstories and setting the pieces in motion. Here, the stakes are high and everyone’s feeling a bit grim, filthy, and exhausted, so don’t read this when you’re looking for some fun escapism. 

Bonus Factor: The Army

B&W image of men sitting in a trench with rifles

The Ancelstierre army that guards the Wall has always played a small role in this series, but I have to give them major props this time around. These men (since apparently even in this alternate version of history women were rarely in the armed forces) are fighting the good fight with bravery, even when they’re facing certain death (har-de-har). Their willingness to readily believe in Charter magic and the cuckoo craziness taking place over the Wall makes them valuable assets to our protagonists.

Bonus Factor: Sassy Animals

White cat crouching outside

Oh, Mogget. You’re still my fave. If possible, he gets even better in this book, and—bonus—we finally get to learn a little more about his history.

Being that our humans are busy concentrating on not effing up and allowing the extinction of life to happen, the small moments of humor in the story come in the form of Mogget’s acerbic wit:

“Mogget? Is that you? Where are you?”
“Here, and regretting it as per usual,” replied Mogget, and a small white cat sauntered out from behind a tree.

Sam picked up his pack, but before he could put it on, Mogget leaped onto it and slid under the top flap. All that could be seen of him were his green eyes and one white-furred ear.
“Remember I advised against this way,” he instructed. “Wake me when whatever terrible thing is about to happen happens, or if it appears I might get wet.”

As well as from the Disreputable Dog’s snacking habits:

“Did you eat my share of the rabbit?” Lirael whispered as she made her way back to her pack.
“No, I did not!” exclaimed the Dog. “As if I would! Besides, Sameth kept it in the pot. With the lid on.”

And let’s not forget the Disreputable Dog’s general awesomeness, as she is also my fave. (I can have more than one, okay?) We should all be so lucky to have as loyal and smart and cuddly a companion as she.

Relationship Status: But Wait, There’s More!

I was mostly at peace with how we ended things when we were last together, Book, since I thought we had closed that chapter of our relationship. But now that I know you’ve got more to tell, I’m not content to leave things as they are. We can still hang out, but I’m definitely going to be checking in with your recently discovered half-sister to catch up on all the goss.

FTC Full Disclosure: I purchased my own copy of this book. I received neither money nor peanut butter cups in exchange for this review. Abhorsen is available now.

Stephanie (she/her) is an avid reader who moonlights at a college and calls Orlando home. Stephanie loves watching television, reading DIY blogs, planning awesome parties, Halloween decorating, and playing live-action escape games.