The Rithmatist: Read it if….

Rejoice fleshlings, for today I bring you tidings of great joy – the good-book drought has broken!  Today’s offering from Brandon Sanderson, The Rithmatist, has brought me back to the lush, green delta of compulsive reading.


The Rithmatist follows the fates of Joel, son of a chalk-maker and all round ordinary sort of guy, who is completing his schooling at an institution dedicated partly to the teaching of Rithmatics. Rithmatists have a special ability to bring chalk drawings to life, an ability which comes in useful in Sanderson’s particular alternate universe given that wild chalklings (two-dimensional creatures made of chalk) can eat people…skin first in most cases.  Joel desperately wants to be a Rithmatist, but must content himself with studying the theory – until Rithmatic students on Joel’s campus start disappearing and he becomes much more involved in the fates and fortunes of the Rithmatic community than he could ever have hoped.  Thus begins a wholly original tale that has it all – murder, mayhem, mystery, monsters, mystical doodling and…much else besides, not necessarily starting with M.


Read it if:

* you are unable to walk past an author with a rhyming first and last name

* you can stand the sound of chalk scraping on a blackboard

* you believe that the fantasy/gearpunk/murder-kidnapping mystery/coming-of-age sub-genre is woefully under-represented in modern YA literature

* you like your alternate universes original, solid and drawn (pardon the pun) from an interesting new premise – I mean chalk monsters! Way more interesting than your run-of-the-mill shuffling horde

* you fervently believe YA fiction is far better off without (a) a broody looking long-haired girl on the cover and (b) crappy, forced love triangles between aforementioned broody-looking girl, attractive clean-cut young man number one and attractive rebel without a cause young man number two


I  am, quite frankly, astounded that I have not come across Mr. Sanderson’s work before, but I will definitely seeking out more of his stuff in the future.  One of the stand-out bits of The Rithmatist is the confident world-building that Sanderson has accomplished. He has managed to pull off a story set in a completely original and believable alternate-Earth, without getting bogged down in describing the ways and workings of the whole deal.  This in turn allows his characters to drive the narrative – another strength of the work.

If you’re looking for something completely different, with engaging characters and some really novel concepts, you could do a lot worse than this book.  And if the cover above doesn’t take your fancy, it’s also been released in the cover below!

Rithmatist 2

Ahhh, it’s good to be back in the world of enthusiastic reading again. Mr Sanderson, I thank you!

Until next time,



16 thoughts on “The Rithmatist: Read it if….

  1. I came across Sanderson, when he finished off The wheel of Time series, started in the Year of Our Lord 1765 or that’s what it felt like. This is something completely new ans as ever goes on the ‘buy it for me please’ list. One day I will stop with the books, one day I will hide from all you corrupting recommenders.


    • Yes, blogging does tend to overload one with recommendations. My Book Depository wish list has over 800 titles on it. I’m thinking of starting a second wishlist for the books I really really wish for, so the fleshling’s Annual Gift Man with the beard brings the right ones to the shelf.


  2. Well, Yay for finding the right book! I was worried about you falling off the shelf for lack of stimulation. This chalk drawing monster thing is pretty intriguing. I may need to get someone to read this one to me. Thanks!


  3. Rhyming authors name and no broody long haired girl? Oh my – sounds fantastic! I’d not heard of this book before but it sounds interesting and one can never have enough books that are drought breaking title worthy.


    • Yes, it is a good read – I was doubtful at first because I tend to find most newer fantasy books take a tedious age to explain the intricacies of the world, but I fell straight into this one. Hooray!


  4. This book has been on my hold list at the library for MONTHS, so I’m glad to hear it’s worth the wait! Thanks for sharing your review with the Kid Lit Blog Hop!


  5. I just finished this last week (which means it’s now several books down on my review notes file) – I loved it, too! And your description of the typical YA plot elements is great! I think the long hair/love triangle thing works in Fruits Basket, but now it’s just getting old.


  6. Pingback: Highlights from the Kid Lit Blog Hop – 7/17 | Youth Literature Reviews

  7. LOL. Who could go past an author with a name that rhymes, you had me at that one. I love your “read it if’s”. They are hilarious. When will Bruce be publishing a “funniest lines from the shelf”. I will have to pin this one for future reading. Thanks for joining us on the Kid Lit Blog Hop again.


  8. I’m happy to get a cool recommendation like this! Max loves chalk 😉 It might be awhile before he can read this one, but he already pretends to be a monster sometime, so I’m sure this will be right up his alley. Thanks for sharing!


  9. Pingback: Read-it-if-Review: Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Staircase… | thebookshelfgargoyle

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