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Review of Goldenhand

nix_goldenhandGoldenhand [Old Kingdom]
by Garth Nix
Middle School, High School    Harper/HarperCollins    345 pp.
10/16    978-0-06-156158-0    $19.99
e-book ed.  978-0-06-221678-6    $10.99

In this fifth installment in the series, Sabriel, the Abhorsen, is on a much-needed holiday, and it falls to Abhorsen-in-Waiting Lirael to investigate when her friend (and love interest) Nicholas Sayre sends word of an evil creature on the loose. Meanwhile, in alternating chapters, young nomad Ferin makes a perilous journey to bring warning of danger from old enemy Chlorr of the Mask. The two stories converge at Lirael’s childhood home, the glacier of the sibylline Clayr — where Lirael has never felt she belongs — and from there Lirael and her friends venture further into Nix’s fantastical world than ever before. Without a mentor at her side for the first time, Lirael truly comes into her own, embracing her many gifts and accepting the pain of past losses. This self-actualization allows Lirael to find romance as well as her place in the world. It’s clear the Old Kingdom will be in good hands with the next generation, as her peers Nick and Sam (Sabriel’s son) again demonstrate courage, loyalty, and ingenuity, and debut character Ferin proves herself a worthy friend and warrior. Fans will cheer this latest volume — tightly paced with a satisfying resolution, capable and relatable female characters, plenty of action, and reappearances by beloved characters — and fervently hope for more to come. While familiarity with the short story “Nicholas Sayre and the Creature in the Case” (set just after the events of Abhorsen, rev. 3/03, and published in Nix’s 2005 Across the Wall) and especially prequel Clariel (rev. 9/14) isn’t strictly necessary, it will enhance this book’s already significant emotional weight.

From the November/December 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Katie Bircher About Katie Bircher

Katie Bircher, associate editor at The Horn Book, Inc., is a former bookseller and holds an MA in children's literature from Simmons College. She served as chair of the 2018 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committee. Follow Katie on Twitter @lyraelle.

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