Top critical review
Doesn't Explore its Fantastical Ideas/Setting Enough, Repetitive and Drawn Out
on 8 November 2016
I've given this 2 stars rather than 1 (I considered 1!) because at least the book still features the characters and fantastical elements that I enjoy. Sadly they're in a story that drags and drags. I liked Sabriel for the distinctive set-pieces, whereas Abhorsen is mostly a long journey where not much happens (a continuation of the last part of the previous book). The fights in Abhorsen and Lirael take place in locations described as "a road", "a field", "a hill", "a clearing". They are supposed to be in a bleak no-mans-land, but that doesn't make for enjoyable reading. The main plot points are repeated ad nauseum, such as Nicholas' "illness" (already covered a lot in book 2) and what the hemispheres are being used for - pages and pages-worth that could have been left out (to allow books 2 and 3 to merge into one book).
Unlike in Sabriel, where even the inexperienced character uses the magical devices she has to hand, Abhorsen barely features one of its most interesting plot devices (the ability to go into death). If I remember right, the bells are used a couple of times in the land of the living to deal with evil spirits, but no-one goes into death until almost the end of the book. Compare with Sabriel where it occurs almost straight away. Lirael receives a mirror to see into the past in book 2, and is given the title of Remembrancer. The mirror is used only once in each book. It was a struggle to finish Abhorsen and I skipped a bit towards the end.