Thursday, February 21, 2013

Review: Between Two Thorns by Emma Newman

Something is wrong in Aquae Sulis, Bath’s secret mirror city.
The new season is starting and the Master of Ceremonies is missing. Max, an Arbiter of the Split Worlds Treaty, is assigned with the task of finding him with no one to help but a dislocated soul and a mad sorcerer.

There is a witness but his memories have been bound by magical chains only the enemy can break. A rebellious woman trying to escape her family may prove to be the ally Max needs.

But can she be trusted? And why does she want to give up eternal youth and the life of privilege she’s been born into?

Paperback, 400 pages
Expected publication: February 26th 2013 by Angry Robot 
(info grabbed from GoodReads)

I received a free ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
If I had to sum up Between Two Thorns simply, it would be traditional mystery meets the whimsical world of Harry Potter.  For me, the world of Between Two Thorns had a similar magical feel that I definitely enjoyed.  That’s where the similarities end, however, as Between Two Thorns is a very adult written book.  Not that it has anything inappropriate for younger readers -- it doesn’t really. Like most adult books, it is not character driven like ever popular YA books.

Speaking of the characters, I felt that the author put together a wonderful cast.  The characters had their own personality and their own piece that they brought to the puzzle.  In the beginning, though the book is third person, we takes turns following Cathy, Max and various other characters.  I loved how eventually you could see the pieces coming together, but at first it seemed that the characters were all completely unrelated.  While I did think that this aspect was well written, I did also feel that the constant switching between seemingly unrelated storylines a bit disorienting.  It also took quite a bit of reading before anything started to form together; half of the book was used for build up for each of the characters.

When the book did pick up and all our players are coming together, it became a very enjoyable read.  I especially loved Cathy’s story and issues with her family.  Her sacrifice and ingenuity to attain her goals made her my favorite character by far.  She is a witty underdog in the world of the fae-touched, and served as stark contrast to Max, our soulless split-world detective.

However, after the book started to pick up, I thought it began to feel rushed.  The climax came and went, still well written, but it was the downward action afterwards where I felt the book may be lacking.  There were several issues that were unresolved, and the book tries to end on a cliff-hanger, but more so felt incomplete.  Obviously, there is a sequel, but the ending page didn’t feel so much like the ending of a book as the ending of a chapter.  I for one think that even books that aim to be trilogies or series should be complete in and of themselves, so this was an issue for me.

Though with its hiccups, Between Two Thorns had good prose, great characters, and was a well done mystery.  I recommend it to anyone who loves faeries, high society related books, and/or a good mystery.  It is all those things in one, which made for a very fun read.

Final Thought: 3 out of 5 toadstools

This review is also posted on GoodReads

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