Jackamo and I are big fans of Garth Nix. We've read two exceptional fantasy series by him: The Keys to the Kingdom and the Abhorsen or Old Kingdom trilogy.
Last night I stayed up late finishing the newly released fifth book of the seven-book Keys series. These stories are written for young adults or older children, and the main characters are around 12 years old. The language of this series is straightforward without feeling juvenile, and the hero Arthur makes hard, honorable decisions while still being very human—he is often fearful and uncertain but very admirable. An adopted child who struggles with severe asthma, Arthur is unwillingly pulled into another world called The House where he has to contend with seven daunting characters named after the days of the week. Each antagonist clearly represents one of the seven deadly sins. It’s an impelling adventure story for any age. Each volume ends with a cliffhanger, so I’m eagerly awaiting the publication of the two final installments in the series.
Nix’s Abhorsen trilogy is aimed at older readers with more sophisticated language and adult themes. Similar to The Keys series, it is a solid fantasy story enriched by Catholic imagery that is thought-provoking but never dogmatic. Nix also does not shy away from death in his books, and I admire him for including a very realistic depiction of it for younger readers. I found the Abhorsen trilogy extremely difficult to put down the first time I read it and am looking forward to rereading it this week. I am both distraught that Nix hasn’t written additional Abhorsen novels (he has written a short story that I haven't yet read) and pleased that his trilogy ended well and never became tired. It’s a bittersweet reading experience when a superb conclusion leaves you wanting more.
The Abhorsen Trilogy: Sabriel, Lirael, Abhorsen.