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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enter the mirror city of Aquae Sulis
One of the delights of starting any new urban fantasy novel is uncovering the rules of the new worlds you've just discovered. Between Two Thorns by Emma Newman tells the story of the Fae, and long-lived humans, referred to as the Fae touched, who all live a seemingly idyllic Victorian era existence in mirror images of Bath and various other cities throughout the world...
Published 21 months ago by Pablo Cheesecake (The Eloquent...

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Entirely Sure.....
I am still quite undecided about this book. It had the elements of a
good book but I didn't enjoy it as much as I felt I should have. It
started quite slowly and I never really got involved with the whole
story.
This is an urban fantasy book where the magical world is
parallel to our own. Certain properties in London & Bath are anchors
for...
Published 4 months ago by DJF


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enter the mirror city of Aquae Sulis, 2 Mar 2013
By 
This review is from: Between Two Thorns (Split World) (Paperback)
One of the delights of starting any new urban fantasy novel is uncovering the rules of the new worlds you've just discovered. Between Two Thorns by Emma Newman tells the story of the Fae, and long-lived humans, referred to as the Fae touched, who all live a seemingly idyllic Victorian era existence in mirror images of Bath and various other cities throughout the world. Everything seems perfect, but beneath the paper-thin veneer of civility, power struggles and politics threaten to tear their society apart.

The best examples of the urban fantasy genre all have one thing in common. They ensure that their narrative is backed up by a whole heap of rock solid world building. This is where I think Between Two Thorns really excels. Newman has obviously spent time considering not only how the denizens of the worlds she has created would live side by side, but also how they would interact with one another. The Fae are an aloof bunch, seldom seen and seemingly only interested in themselves. Meanwhile, the Fae touched, those that live in the spaces between our world and the world of the Fae, are just as bad. They live in fear of their powerful Fae masters but care little for us poor old mundanes, their name for us normal humans.

Max is an interesting character, his role as an Arbiter (think magically-enhanced private detective/policeman) has changed him in ways we would find difficult to comprehend. He is charged with locating a missing dignitary and trying to keep the peace. Assisting him is a cantankerous sorcerer, an empathic gargoyle, a librarian and a computer programmer who just happened to be in the wrong place in the wrong time. They are an eclectic bunch and great fun to read.

Much as I found Max an intriguing protagonist, I have to admit that I found myself more involved with Cathy's narrative. Cathy was born into the highly structured privilege of Fae touched society. Growing up in a world of strict rules, obligation and near crippling social etiquette she wants to rebel against it all. She just wants to be left alone to live her own life. She wants to be able to make her own decisions and not have to constantly worry about how this will affect the social standing of her family. In a world where very little ever changes and status is everything, Cathy longs for escape. To her, our world is a revelatory experience, offering the freedom she so desperately seeks, freedom that so many of us would just take for granted.

Treading similar thematic ground to the likes of Clive Barker's Weaveworld and Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, Emma Newman's first Split Worlds novel still manages to be a wonderfully iconoclastic affair. I feel like I've only been given a tantilsing glimpse through a fantastical doorway. There are plenty of hints that suggest that there is much more left still to learn, I'm so looking forward to discovering it. My next visit to Aquae Sulis won't come a moment too soon.

Recently, I read that Mike Shevdon's next book, The Eighth Court, will be the last in his fantastic Courts of the Feyre series (another "must read" urban fantasy series from Angry Robot). I was immediately thrown into a blind panic. Where was I going to find something that would adequately fill that void? Turns out the head honchos over at Angry Robot have obviously been thinking exactly the same thing. Between Two Thorns has arrived just in the nick of time. I get to finish one magnificent series and begin another without suffering any serious urban fantasy withdrawal. Relief all round I'm sure you'll agree.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mirror City of Marvels, 22 Mar 2013
By 
Ms. Theresa M. Derwin (Birmingham, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Between Two Thorns (Split World) (Paperback)
In this new Urban Fantasy, part one of the Split Worlds trilogy, we meet young Cathy, or Catherine Rhoeas-Papaver, a woman who wants to escape the constraints of her faux Victorian existence in Aquae Sulis, the Nether mirror image city of Bath, a magical place in which the Fae co-exist with selected humans. Cathy has escaped and is living hidden in Manchester Munadnus (the real world) hiding out from her family. She is doing well until she is found by Lord Poppy, Lord of the Fae Court who insists she return to the Nether for her coming of age. He removes the charm from her that hides her from her family, so before you can blink, she is dragged back to Aquae Sulis by her brother Tom and informed by her father that she is to marry young William, a highly prised stud from the Iris family.

Whilst all of this is going on, Max, an Arbiter (magically-enhanced private detective/policeman), is investigating the disappearance of humans from Mundanus and the disappearance of Cathy's uncle, a powerful politician in the world of the Nether.

It is when we enter the world of the Nether and Aquae Sulis that things really sparkle (though not in a horrible vampire/fairy way). Newman's world building is exemplary, as is her characterisations. Max in particular with his 'partner' the gargoyle (I will say no more here) is great fun. As Cathy has to relearn her manners, there are plenty of moments to find humour.

I am not going to fill out this review with a mass of reasons why this book is so good. I'm just going to share this; I started reading and was enamoured. I read this on my kindle, and suddenly looked to see I was fifty percent in and wondered how I'd got there. I then looked and saw I was sevent-five percent in and got upset. Why? Because my journey through the Split Worlds was near an end and I was dissapointed. It has been a very long time since I have read a book that has enthralled me to the extent I become miserable at the thought of it ending. Well done Newman. I want more.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not Entirely Sure....., 17 Aug 2014
This review is from: Between Two Thorns (Split World) (Paperback)
I am still quite undecided about this book. It had the elements of a
good book but I didn't enjoy it as much as I felt I should have. It
started quite slowly and I never really got involved with the whole
story.
This is an urban fantasy book where the magical world is
parallel to our own. Certain properties in London & Bath are anchors
for property which are mirrored in the fantasy world. We begin this
book with Cathy who has escaped the Fae world to live a "normal" life
in our world; attending university, having a boyfriend etc.
Unfortunately this implodes for her and she is dragged back to the Fae
world for an arranged marriage. At the same time Max, an arbiter, is
trying to discover what has happened with his local chapter and who has
kidnapped Cathy's Uncle, a major dignitary in Aquae Sulis, the Fae
mirror of Bath.
I loved the whole concept of the worlds created in
this book. The concept of a mirrored world anchored to our own was
wonderful. I don't think this was that well explained throughout the
book and it did take me a while to really understand the structure of
the world and the heirarchy of its people. I think this confusion on my
part distracted me from the story making it seem rather laborious.
There
are some fantastic quirky characters in this book - a computer
programmer who was in the wrong place at the wrong time, the angry
Tinkerbelles, a walking gargoyle with emotions.....I enjoyed these
characters very much. I wasn't as taken with Cathy, one of the main
characters, as she is a very angry person and very often hits out at the
wrong people, particularly her fiance. Max, the Arbiter, is a fun
character. He has no emotions but his gargoyle, by a quirk of magic,
does!
This is a book with potential. There are many threads left
hanging in the air at the end so there is obviously a whole series out
there somewhere. I wonder if the second book will be easier for me now
that I have got some of the fantasy structure sorted out. I don't think I
shall actively seek out the next book in the series but if I trip over
it on the library shelves I may give it a go.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Marvellously inventive, 22 Sep 2014
By 
Icy Sedgwick "Icy" (Newcastle upon Tyne, UK) - See all my reviews
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I've long been a fan of Emma Newman's work, and it is to my constant chagrin that I didn't read this sooner. Set in her Split Worlds universe, in which normal people live in Mundanus, and the Fae have been locked in a beautiful prison called Exilium. Between these two worlds is the Nether, a reflection of the mundane world, and stuck about three hundred years in the past. Women are merely chattels to be sold to the highest bidder, with marriages used as political mergers between the Great Families, as the so-called puppets scrap to become the favourites of their Fae patrons. One such puppet is Cathy, daughter of the Papaver family and new favourite of Lord Poppy, but time spent living in Mundanus has convinced her how backward Society life in the Nether is. However, it's not just backward, it's also subject to corruption, and Cathy has to team up with an Arbiter, whose dislocated soul now animates a London gargoyle, in order to expose what's really going on. There's far more to it than that but I really don't want to spoil it for you! It's a wonderful read, and I genuinely didn't predict where the story would go. It's the first in a series so the ending is obviously open to lead into book two, which I'll be buying as soon as I've finished typing this review. Thoroughly enjoyable, wildly inventive, and fast paced!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Refreshingly different - and not just because of all the tea drinking., 9 Aug 2014
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It's great to have fantasy world that isn't faux-medieval or steampunk, giving The Split Worlds an entirely different feel to most fantasy fiction.

Weaved within this blend of Fae and Regency manners there's some deeper themes there, which you'll be thinking about long after putting the book down. It also leads to a main female character who doesn't just put on armour or a leather catsuit and start hitting things - always a good thing.

While some of the period trappings aren't really to my taste (you'll probably never see Pride and Prejudice on my to-read list), this did hold my attention and I could quite easily see it being turned into a Sunday evening drama, sneaking a little fantasy into the usual period fare on BBC or ITV.

Also, for fans of Emma's podcast there's plenty of tea, some jeopardy and a butler wrapped up in the mix too.

Right, on to book two...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Review: Between Two Thorns by Emma Newman, 23 Mar 2013
By 
This review is from: Between Two Thorns (Split World) (Paperback)
I struggled to get into this one, and it took me some time to realise why. On the surface, it has everything I like in a novel - fantasy worlds, fairies and even a splash of the social intrigue that I enjoy in historical novels about court life. And it's set in Bath. As an ex-resident of the city, I carry a certain, biased fondness for anything set within its streets.

But despite all this, I just couldn't get going with it. I picked it up, read a little, put it down, read other books, and was generally unmotivated just to get it finished. I hate not finishing books, especially ones that I receive for review, so I plodded on with it and towards the end it did start to get a bit better. But not enough to payoff the slow start.

I think Between Two Thorns suffers for its multiple POV structure. There are several major players - some introduced early then promptly forgotten about, others not introduced 'til halfway through then given an inordinate amount of attention. It just felt a bit disjointed, and I couldn't decide who was important.

It's always the risk with multiple POV books that readers will like one character more than the others and consequently skip sections to get back to them, and I did feel a desire to do that in the early stages, before the disparate threads of narrative started heading towards a point of convergence.

When the climactic point of the narrative came together, it was quite a good payoff, and I enjoyed watching it all unravel. However, I was immediately then annoyed by the quite abrupt `Now you have to buy the next book' ending. I don't mind a bit of a cliffhanger, but there has to be some resolution. As I got to the final few percent on my Kindle, I just kept thinking `there is not enough space to wrap this up satisfactorily.' And it didn't.

The characters were pretty good - varied and each with their own motivations and interests. The Fae-touched were the most interesting, as was Arbiter Max and his dislocated soul companion.

I quite liked Cathy, though her sections were peppered with pop culture references - something I find incredibly irritating in books. Unless it's a fashion reference in a book about fashion, or a nerdy reference in a book about a bunch of nerds, I personally think all pop culture references should be scrubbed out of books. Cathy's frequent references to geek culture - Portal, Battlestar Galactica, Brazil - were supposed to highlight her geeky character, but the story wasn't about her being a geek: it was about her wanting to live in the human world. That could have been got across without the references. But then, it's a personal bugbear, and not necessarily something that will irritate other people as much as it did me.

Overall, just a bit of a mixed bag. I wonder if this is one of those books where the second one in the series is loads better because the set up stuff is all out of the way. I enjoyed it enough to consider finding that out, but unless it leaps off a shelf at me when it comes out, I feel I'll probably have forgotten all about it by then...

Rating: 3.5/5
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5.0 out of 5 stars I need a pet gargoyle, 3 Oct 2014
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Emma Newman is a fabulous author. She has taken one of the most loved cities in England (Bath in case you're wondering) and made it the epicentre of her wholly original and fascinating alternate universe. Split Worlds had me gripped from the very start and I find myself partially wishing that I could find an entrance to the other side. Great writing, great stories and a good bit of action. I can't wait for book 4. Buy them, BUY THEM ALL.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and unusual fantasy of an unusually high standard (absolutely no elves ), 26 Jun 2014
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A very unusual and original fantasy world combining myth ,folk lore and the modern day ,( but not as we know it).I really enjoyed and would recommend all three in the series , I do hope she is writing another as the last book ended suddenly with lots of unresolved plot lines
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5.0 out of 5 stars Original, engrossing, disturbing and brilliant, 8 May 2014
By 
J. Carter - See all my reviews
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A fascinating world(s), peopled by richly imagined people. Whilst this work is influenced a little by previous works of the intersection between fae and reality, I haven't read such an original and engrossing story before. Characters act on complex motivations and thus seem real, even in the midst of a fantasy novel. They grow and change throughout the books. The stifling social inhibitions of the nether world have allowed for the smart inclusion of gender politics, that raised my impression of the book still further.

I have gone on to read the next two instalments: this series is a must read.
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3.0 out of 5 stars The world evolved, unfortunately the same can't be said for the Fae, 1 Mar 2014
By 
Cheryl M-M (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
Two worlds exist simultaneously, mirror images with one difference. The world inhabited by mere mortals is called the Mundane and the second, the Nether, is occupied by the Fae. The Nether is much like stepping into Victorian England. It is a world full of antiquated views and backward thinking. The women are deemed to be second class citizens with no voice and are expected to obey and never question male authority.
No wonder that one of them decided to slip through the tight restrictive net of her family and her society, to try to build a new life in the Mundane. A life she is allowed to control. Where she say what she wants, do whatever she pleases and live in the manner that she wishes.
Unfortunately the Fae do not allow for flighty freedom seeking Fae, especially female ones, and she is captured by one of the head honchos. He has a connection and interest in her that is not only creepy but also dangerous.
The other storyline, which connects to Cathy and her family a little later in the book, is about Max. Max is an Arbiter for the Fae in the Mundane. A combination of police/enforcer of the Fae in the human world. What they do exactly isn’t entirely clear and could do with a little more depth. The two stories merge but not very well and it often seems as if two different books are being presented.
Towards the end of the story Cathy discovers something about the hierarchy of the Fae and how the servants come to be in that position. I think that sub-plot is fodder for the next book.
Overall the idea is a good one, especially in regards to the abuse and oppression of females in the Fae community. I think given more depth and attention to plot purely from the perspective of the potential reader this could be a nifty little series.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.
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Between Two Thorns (Split World)
Between Two Thorns (Split World) by Emma Newman (Paperback - 7 Mar 2013)
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