Sabriel is her last year at Wyverley College, a private school in Ancelstierre, where Magic does not work, but near the Border with the Old Kingdom, where it does. She and her father are also highly skilled necromancers, who fight the dead who seek to return to Life. But when her father is somehow trapped in Death, she must journey into the Old Kingdom to find him. She does not know that it is wracked by struggle (like that in Ursula LeGuin's The Farthest Shore)-a magician has brought chaos by refusing to die and hopes to use Sabriel and her father to further consolidate his power. Sabriel goes on a long journey throughout a densely imagined world, learning as she goes, and meeting such strange characters as Mogget, a raging natural force contained in the shape of a cat. She also develops a relationship with Touchstone, a young man who turns out to be as crucially involved as she is. Although Sabriel is possessed of much heavy knowledge (""A year ago, I turned the final page of The Book of the Dead. I don't feel young any more""), she is still a teenager and vulnerable where her father and love for Touchstone are concerned, making her a sympathetic heroine. Rich, complex, involving, hard to put down, this first novel, an Australian import, is excellent high fantasy. The suitably climactic ending leaves no loose ends, but readers will hope for a sequel. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/02/1996 Release date: 01/01/1900 Genre: Children's
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