Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Book Review: Between Two Thorns by Emma Newman

Pros: interesting characters, fully realized worlds

Cons: Catherine’s relationship with Josh didn’t feel real, book ends abruptly

Catherine Rhoeas-Papaver grew up in a powerful family of Aquae Sulis, the Nether version of England’s Bath.  But she ran away to Mundanus, hoping to build a life for herself away from the machinations and abuses of her family.  Now they’re bringing her back and forcing her to get married.

Meanwhile, the Master of Ceremonies has disappeared and a Bath Arbiter, charged with keeping the people of Mundanus safe from the fae and their Nether puppets, has uncovered corruption in the London Chapter.

There’s a lot going on in this book that isn’t said, due to Aquae Sulis rules of propriety and the mundanes that feature in parts of the story.  In many ways it makes things fun as you get to figure out aspects of society, the sorcerers, etc. organically.  Only a few things were a bit confusing and took time to figure out, like discovering that Patroon wasn’t a typo for Patron, but a separate office.

The different worlds were realized well.  I liked the amount of detail put into the Nether - the unchanging light, lack of wind, etc. and the glimpses of Exilium were perfect.

The characters were fun, though since we were only told about Catherine’s relationship with Josh, rather than allowed to see them together as a couple, I kept forgetting she was in love with him.  This becomes a problem because I found myself liking her intended groom in the Nether, who tries so hard to impress her.  Seeing her previous relationship in action, and getting to know Josh more, would have grounded that relationship and made her plight - forced to leave him and marry someone else - starker.

The main mystery of the story wraps up, but the book itself ends very abruptly.  I found myself turning the page, expecting more, only to find I was done.  You’ll want the next volume ready to go if you start these, because this book ends with several people in tight spots.

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