Sunday, February 24, 2013

ARC Review: Between Two Thorns by Emma Newma

Between Two Thorns by Emma Newman

Publisher: Angry Robot
Series: The Split Worlds
Pages 384 Pages (Paperback)
Genre:  Fantasy
Release Date: February 26, 2013

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?



My initial response after finishing this: "OH NO! When is the next one coming out?!"

And I did literally scramble to get the date of the next book (exp. publication May 28th, 2013)
Because -and this is a warning for all of those who fear them- this ends on some serious cliffhangers!

This is Emma Newman's debut novel. And while in some ways she seriously impressed me in others it did show. Newman definitely has a talent in fantasy story telling, which is definitely another reason why I am planning on picking up the next installment of this series

The book was written from several POVs in third person. A difficult feat. Since there are many character one needs to connect to, the third person choice not making it easier. But mostly Newman succeeded with it. The MCs are well rounded and interesting.

For me personally Max was the most difficult character to connect to. Since in the beginning quite a bit was in his POV, it took me a while to get into the book. Though I found his POV a bit tedious, I also recognize that it's perfect for his character. And commend Newman for writing it in that way. By the way for some reason in my mind he looked like those control-dudes in the matrix.. which is in someways connected to the way he was written... oh in others I guess I am a darn geek no hiding from that, or just a very boring impressionable mind.

Cat, the female MC, was my favorite character. At first I thought she was just a spoiled brat. Then slowly things were revealed about her past and as the story unfolded also her character was more and more revealed and I couldn't help liking her, supporting her and cheering for her.

Sam, was the character from Mudanus- in other words one of us. And he is your "normal" English good hearted bloke. He could be one of my British friends! The way he speaks and thinks and the stuff he does made me chuckle... and in fact made me think of several of my friends in particular. While I was wondering where he would fit in in this story, suddenly he took center stage and changed the ball game. And Newman managed another time to reveal details of a character that made them more realistic just when I had them pinned down as a stereotype.

Lastly there is William- the knight in shinning armors. Well at least he does think that of himself. A character who would be the perfect romantic hero- except that no-one wants to be rescued. Cat isn't your damsel in distress. But William is still convinced he is going to rescue her, and expects her to be grateful. I totally loved the way Newman written him. His whole knight in shinning armor complex and the fact that he doeskin even realize that he isn't doing anyone any favors. He is so caught up in being the goody... but his other character traits do give me so much hope for an interesting development in the next couple of book! Especially the relationship between him and Cat.

Newman's character building is done slowly and in layers.This way of writing characters is really great- it feels like you get to know and understand them slowly. The downside characters that aren't featured often or whose POV wasn't written stay rather stereotypical at best. But sadly mostly they just fall out flat. So the love interests of the MCs are just an outline and caricature. I can't even remember their names. Same thing with the villains- they ended up feeling terribly flat.

The world building is amazing. So clever. So intriguing. I really loved how Newman set the whole thing in the modern world. Made Aqua Sulis, the mirrored world of Cat and William, more a Victorian world - with a steam punk element and the fairy world totally out there. Just like one would imagine Fairy. Gorgeous and frightening at once, a place of unimaginable possibilities and dangers. Totally beautiful and deadly.
Definitely an author blessed with tons of imagination.. I am looking forward to see what else she comes up with!

The prose was beautiful! Newman has a way with words. This book was a pleasure to read - especially when Newman described things. I loved the images she created. Good fantasy is the ability to not only tell a good story set in a different world - but to create that world with beautiful worlds. Evoke it in the readers mind. Where it comes alive and leave the impression as if one visited there.  Newman definitely has a gift for that.

The storyline is very complex. So many threads running at the same time. This isn't a simple straight down the line story. There was loads of things going on, and they were significant to working out what was happening. I really enjoyed that- I kept guessing on how things were related to each other, what a new revelation would mean for earlier ones, trying to see the bigger picture till the big showdown really. My biggest issue with the storyline though is that it felt very unfinished, to many unfinished thread were left hanging in the end. I felt like I haven't gotten ANY answers. I am aware that there are two more books to come. But this felt like a build up- the show down, was not really a show down after all and it felt anti-climatic at best- and then the book just stopped. I attribute that to the debut novel thing.

In many ways this is your classic well written fantasy. And if you a lover of this genre I would definitely recommend you pick it up and have a go.

A writer and a series that hold much promise indeed!

ARC was provided by Publishers through Netgalley. Thank you!

View all my reviews here

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