Review: Between Two Thorns

Between Two Thorns
Emma Newman
Angry Robot, Limited

Beautiful and nuanced as it is dangerous, the manners of Regency and Victorian England blend into a scintillating fusion of urban fantasy and court intrigue.

Between Mundanus, the world of humans, and Exilium, the world of the Fae, lies the Nether, a mirror-world where the social structure of 19th-century England is preserved by Fae-touched families who remain loyal to their ageless masters. Born into this world is Catherine Rhoeas-Papaver, who escapes it all to live a normal life in Mundanus, free from her parents and the strictures of Fae-touched society. But now she’s being dragged back to face an arranged marriage, along with all the high society trappings it entails.

Crossing paths with Cathy is Max, an Arbiter of the Split Worlds treaty with a dislocated soul who polices the boundaries between the worlds, keeping innocents safe from the Fae. After a spree of kidnappings and the murder of his fellow Arbiters, Max is forced to enlist Cathy’s help in unravelling a high-profile disappearance within the Nether. Getting involved in the machinations of the Fae, however, may prove fatal to all involved.


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I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I was excited when I received this book to review. At the same time, I am always a little bit skeptic, because my taste in books is very specific. Often, I will begin a book with high hopes, only to be shot down. And I have to say, with this book it was absolutely not the case. The first few chapters were a little slow going, but not slow enough to make me want to stop reading. From the cover, and the description (and, perhaps even the setting), I was expecting something very Mary Poppins-esque. Well, if that is what you are looking to read, this may not be the book for you. Instead of fairies and butterflies, this book is set up as a mystery. Not my thing either! But, it is set up in such a way that the real world flows perfectly into the world of magic and fantasy.

The author does an amazing job of combining so many genres into ONE BOOK. I mean, there is fantasy fiction, mystery, historical fiction and maybe even a little bit of science fiction. And she does it flawlessly. I guess I can count myself lucky that my very first review to be posted on my blog was such a smashing success.

The characters are well developed, and you really grow to like Cathy. Other characters you think are the bad guy, but then you see a side of them that makes you really like him! I was torn between hating him and liking him because of how she had created him to do just that. It was not in a way that contradicted itself, either, which is impressive in and of itself. The story is paced well and has just enough twists and turns to keep your eyes glued to the pages. I was whipping my phone out on 10 minute tram rides so that I could keep reading, and that’s saying something.

And the ending! What else can I say but WOW? She ended the book with a bang (literally) with a ridiculous amount of cliffhanger, leaving me hungry to read more. So much yes. All I can say right now is that I am glad that this book is part of a series, because I know it isn’t over. I get to keep reading, and discover new things about it.

I suppose that it would be good form to at least mention the couple of negative things that I did notice. As I said before, the beginning was a little slow going. Too much real world for me. For me, the farther away from reality, the better! And she managed to make me forget that by making reality unreal. The one other thing that just bugged me was the worldbuilding. Newmann definitely made me forget the real world. In her ‘between’ world, there is not really a world. It is just houses, fakely manicured lawns and gardens and nothing else. A silver sky that never changes. That means that when the story is taking place in the between world (the Nether), you aren’t visualizing the world so much as the houses and the historical attire. She does do an amazing job of jumping between modern day and an 1800’s feel, which is another kudos. There is excitement without violence, being explicit, or too much cussing (there are a couple of swear words in there). So, on a rating system from 1-5, I can’t give this book anything less than 4 stars.


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