Lichgates (The Grimoire Saga #1) by S.M. Boyce (2011)
YA Fiction | Fantasy
“The final page will leave you breathless.
When Kara Magari uncovers a secret door in the middle of the forest, she discovers (and trips through) a portal to a hidden world full of terrifying things: Ourea. She just wants to go home, but the natives have other plans for her. She clashes with immortal shapeshifters, is carried off by a dragon, nearly dies on several occasions, and somehow becomes the master of an ancient book of magic called the Grimoire. Every time she thinks she’s safe, her new “friends” show their true colors.
Kara needs an ally, or she might not survive Ourea’s monsters. She drops her guard when Braeden, a native soldier with a dark secret, vows to keep her safe. And though she doesn’t know it, her growing attraction to him may just be her undoing.
For twelve years, Braeden Drakonin has lived a lie. The Grimoire is his one chance at redemption, and it lands in his lap when Kara Magari comes into his life. Though he begins to care for this stranded girl, there’s something he wants more. He wants the Grimoire.
Welcome to Ourea, where only the cunning survive.”
pooled ink Review:
I needed this book. I came across it by chance when I needed a bit of magic the most and I know that this book will stay with me for a long long time. Not only was it good timing, but I’ve read it several times since I first picked it up and it’s simply a fantastic read!
I discovered Lichgates by chance when one day in August of 2013 the author S.M. Boyce followed me on Twitter. At the time I only had maybe 20 followers so I was always curious when someone I didn’t know found and followed my Twitter account. I discovered that Boyce was an author and she had recently published her book Lichgates, which happened to be on a special offer sale. It sounded so interesting that I bought it. I’ve always loved reading, but college…for reasons I won’t get into, at this time I found myself despairing and in desperate need for an escape, for a piece of magic.
When I finally had a moment to breathe, I opened this curious book on my Nook. It sucked me right in and I read it incredibly fast so drawn into the world of Ourea was I. It was fantastic.
Ourea isn’t the sort of place you can leave. It always drags you back. -Braeden
This was an epic fantasy with links and touches to our present world. There was no short supply of action, heart-break, challenges, battle, romance, discovery, flight, or imagination to be found. Lichgates was practically bubbling over with it!
The protagonist, Kara, was a person I could get behind. She was relatable, realistic, admirable, cunning, and normal. She always rushed to get her wits about her whenever she was terrified or freaked out, she had strong instincts, and she had a good head on her shoulders with impressive critical thinking skills to guide her actions. All (and I truly mean all) of her characters were extremely well crafted but I just really love Kara as far as female protagonists go.
The time will come when you will doubt everything you stand for, but you must push forward and never stop. Do not let others speak for you, or you will lose your voice forever. -the Grimoire
Also, as a sort of side note, I appreciate how tastefully Boyce was able to write in the romance. It wasn’t overdone or gushy and it didn’t take precedence over the plot/moral goals of the characters. It felt natural and true and solid. Even when it wasn’t the scene’s focus it was always there in the undercurrent and while it obviously carried influence over decisions made it was always second to what was needed or what had to be. Ourea came first. There’s just something I appreciate about that, maybe because love can make us selfish (love is blind afterall) and putting your desires after saving your kingdom is admirable…but of course it’s always best when you can have both.
Remember that grief is a necessary pain. It’s your only way to heal. To starve it will destroy you. -the first Vagabond
The world Boyce has created in her Grimoire Saga was amazing. I could picture and feel and imagine everything so clearly! Not only that but it had me yearning to go trekking in the woods to hopefully stumble into my own lichgate to find. In fact, I often took time away from the crush of classes to wander the woods on the edge of campus secretly hoping haha. Nothing but joggers and squirrels were to be discovered I’m afraid. Boyce really was able to blend together utter fantasy with enough grounding familiarity to construct a realm that seems believable. Like Narnia, a childhood favorite of mine that still gets me excited whenever I see a wardrobe, I can’t help but think about Ourea when I wander the woods.
The plot was intriguing and constantly twisting and rushing forward. Places shifted, alliances contorted, characters were always more complex than at first glance. This book is an exhilarating and magical escape no matter what mood you find yourself in. I’m so so thankful to the author for crossing my path and leading me to discover this story. I’m already saving up for the next book!
Lichgates is a fast-paced epic fantasy that will fly you along the journeys of Kara and Braeden and the rise of Ourea. Suit up and be prepared for the jaw-dropping cities and heart-pounding dangers that lie ahead.
P.S. I’d also recommend this series to any of you who are unsure whether or not you’re into high fantasy books. High fantasy can be an acquired taste but Boyce’s series really strikes a balance that stays true to the fantasy genre while also easing in the hesitant, making them comfortable to feel their way rather than lobbing them with fantasy elements right upfront.
Originally rated on Goodreads on March 09, 2014
Purchase here: Lichgates
Similar recommended reads: Sora’s Quest (The Cat’s Eye Chronicles) by T.L. Shreffler, The Waking Land by Callie Bates, Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo, Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, City of Bones by Cassandra Clare, Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini
Meet S.M. Boyce!
I’m S. M. Boyce, a lifelong writer with a knack for discovering adventure and magic.