At fourteen, Lirael is a gifted Charter Mage but she does not have the Sight. That, along with her dark hair and pale skin, makes her an outcast in the Clayr's glacier. She is the oldest girl not to have come into the Sight, she does not know who her father is, and the world is blind to her problems, so she is at times tempted to kill herself.
I read this book because I had read Sabriel and wanted to read the sequel, though I did not know what to expect from the royal-looking girl on the cover- apart from her hair, she was not much like Sabriel. I liked Lirael (both the book and the character) right away, though- at fourteen, she is much less naive than Sabriel was at eighteen, and her favorite haunt, the great Library of the Clayr, is much more interesting than many of Sabriel's. This book is also much longer than Sabriel, but it does not tell a complete story and demands a sequel.
I think girls who did not enjoy Sabriel- perhaps because of her tough-girl nature- would like Lirael better.