Sabriel appears to be just a school girl, but with a whistle she can bring a pet rabbit back to life. She is daughter of the Abhorsen, a necromancer of the Old Kingdom who works to lay the unquiet dead to rest. Sent to Ancelstierre and a safer life, Sabriel grows up at school, away from home and away from magic. Then one night, an Dead creature brings a message and a package from her father: his sword and his bells which he uses to control and bind the dead. Knowing that this means ill for her father, Sabriel returns to her homeland to find out what has happened to him.
On her way, Sabriel meets several characters, some who help her along and some who do not want her to find her father: Mogget the talking cat who is much more than what he appears to be, dead who should not be walking, and necromancers who raise the dead instead of binding them. As she journeys, she also manages to rescue Touchstone, a soldier, from being a ship's figurehead, but now he can't remember who he was or even how long he was there. Together, Sabriel and Touchstone must figure out where her father is, who the necromancer following them is, and how to save the Old Kingdom.
Sabriel is one of my favorite all time books! Great story with depth and history as well as hints of what might happen in the future. Sabriel's concern for her father could mirror that of any daughter, and her self doubt is easily understood by many teens. As she struggles to handle adult situations and her father's disappearance, she grows, matures and changes just like many teens are. Along with being a fantasy, this is a great coming of age novel with hints of romance in it too.
One of the reasons I really like this book is how different it is from many other fantasy novels. Other books have undead and necromancers, but I have not read one other book that deals with them in the same way. In this book, Death is a location, some what similar to Hades, but it is a place to pass through to the final resting area. Necromancers have the ability to cross into Death, bind spirits there with bells or by whistling, and then have the spirits serve them in Life. Garth Nix was so creative and inventive. This is a really unique book and stands out above many of the other fantasy novels I've read.
Overall, this book is outstanding! I would definitely recommend to any teenager, and adults too!