Wow, what a book! I can't remember when was the last time I enjoyed reading something so much.
"Between Two Thorns", Emma Newman's debut for Angry Robot Books, harks back to days when Neil Gaiman actually wrote proper books and is reminiscent of his classics such as Stardust and Neverwhere. - the same sense of Britishness and wonder fills the book.
To explain, the premise is simple : Split Worlds are basically the real world (Mundanus), world of the Fae (Exilium) and Nether which the place in between where our heroine Cathy comes from.
Tasting the life in Mundanus, namely Manchester and getting a boyfriend in the process, Cathy is logically not very happy about her parents intentions to move her back to Nether and forcefully marry her off in an arranged marriage. Add to this multiple plots that include the master of ceremonies going missing at the start of the Season, a Londinium family that has a sinister plan, politics, IT expert, gargoyle, and predictably all turns to chaos. If all this sounds a bit confusing, don't worry. There is simply too much going on for a quick spoiler-free plot overview but once you start reading the book, Emma effortlessly jumps from one plot line to another leaving no time for taking a breath.
What i loved the best is the fact that the entire world is so well thought out and filled with such interesting tidbits that make it interesting and alive. Example of these include the character of Max who spends his day as one of the Arbiters (basically humans with their soul taken away, whose main purpose is to police the careful arrangement between the worlds) or the fact that young folks from Nether are regularly sent to Mundanus to grow up so they can come back to Nether once when they're 20-something and looking fabulous (no one grows old in Nether).
Honestly, the only bad thing that I can say about Between Two Thorns is that once you finish the book, you'll want to start reading the sequel right away. There are some significant threads (what happened with Sam's marriage?!) left unsolved but the sequel is not due for some time. But worry not, to tie us over, Emma has kindly provided over 30 short stories set in Split Worlds series which can be accessed for free through her website.
All in all, Between Two Thorns is stunningly original take on the Faerie myth and worthy beginning of one of the most exciting fantasy series on the market today. We can't wait for the sequels!
Emma Newman's Between Two Thorns is published by Angry Robot Books on 26th February, 2013 in US and 7th March in UK.
Thanks to Angry Robot Books for providing the ARC copy.