A prequel to the Abhorsen Trilogy, Clariel focuses on one young girl called Clariel who is forced to leave her rustic lifestyle besides the Great Forrest and endure the pithy and carefully watched-over life of the city. Her parents are unsympathetic to her plight, both of whom seem only concerned with her mother's work as a Goldsmith. Instantly, Clariel tries to divise a plan to escape, but the operations of a possible creature from the Dead averts all of her intentions.
I preferred this novel over the original Abhorsen trilogy, but only just. I thought the characters were better developed, though the pathetic, natty nature of Clariel (like Lirael) grated on me slightly. The fundamental reason why I read this book, and will continue to read any book in this world, is because of that: the world. I think it's a wonderful world, with such great vastness of creativity that the sheer scope of what could happen anywhere is breath-taking. It should be expanded further and I really wished it would be, as opposed to being condensed in one simple place like Ancelstierre.
Garth Nix's writing style isn't great in this book. I've read various others of his (Shade's Children was one I particularly liked) and I've never felt like his writing style was lacking except when he delves in to the world of the Old Kingdom. I also found the book to be extremely slow (we could have entered the story around 150 pages in and it would have been thoroughly more exciting) and as a result, barely anything happened. I was also extremely confused as to whether this book took place before or after the events of the Abhorsen trilogy (something which only becomes clear once you research it and read the words 'prequel').
It wasn't a great read, but it was enjoyable for escapism and just one more dive in to the world of the Old Kingdom.