Thursday, 14 March 2013

Between Two Thorns by Emma Newman

Between Two Thorns by Emma Newman is a difficult book to put into a single category. It's been called urban fantasy by the publisher and while that is technically correct — it is fantasy and some of it takes place in a modern urban setting — the image generally conjured up by that label bears little resemblance to Between Two Thorns.

The split worlds if the series title are the normal world (called Mundanus), Exilium, which is where the Fae live and follows usual fairyland rules, and the Nether, which is a semi-magical place between the other two worlds. Certain families of humans live in the Nether and are able to wield limited magic and age very slowly. Their society is old fashioned and vaguely Victorian.

Cathy is a scion of one of these families but she ran away to avoid being forced into an arranged marriage and generally treated like chattel. She was living in real world Manchester until events conspired, near the start of the novel, to drag her back into the Nether. I liked Cathy, mostly because she's quite practical (flushing toilets are useful!) in her approach to both worlds and her place in them. Her main goal is always to escape, but it never felt at all selfish as it could have in another book.

I also liked how all the men living in the society had similar views and her (and everyone's) place in life, even the nice ones. A common trap is making the sympathetic make characters implausibly feminist in a society which doesn't really have the appropriate frame work in place. While I didn't exactly enjoy the character's I liked holding old-fashioned views, it made sense, and I enjoyed that and the accompanying conflicting emotions.

There are three of four (depending on how you count) story lines in Between Two Thorns and I found myself enjoying reading about each of the characters. My favourite was Cathy, but I also liked Max, the sort of soulless, sort of policeman who became embroiled in the main dramatic problem that arose. I had no idea how Cathy's plot would intertwine with his until it came to pass.

My only complaint is that Between Two Thorns is very much book one of a series. Once the main action had passed and the mystery solved (with some questions left unanswered and some hints of deeper conspiracies yet to be addressed), I wasn't quite sure exactly where the book would end. Unfortunately, it was on a cliffhanger. Not a particularly dramatic one (no actual cliffs), but bad enough to make me try to turn the page thinking there was more. It was an excellent book, but I wished it had ended in a slightly different spot. I will definitely be reading the next book to find out what happens.

Between Two Thorns is an excellent read and I highly recommend it to fantasy fans looking for something a bit different, particularly in the form of merging modern day settings with fantasy worlds. It's a concept that's been done on paper, but Newman does it differently. I keenly await the next instalment.

4.5 / 5 stars

First published: March 2013, Angry Robot
Series: The Split Worlds, book 1 of 3
Format read: eARC on my iThings
Source: The publisher via NetGalley

No comments:

Post a Comment