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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 17 months ago by Pablo Cheesecake (The Eloquent...

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3.0 out of 5 stars Review: Between Two Thorns by Emma Newman
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...
Published 16 months ago by Liberty Gilmore


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5.0 out of 5 stars A writer to watch, 18 May 2013
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This review is from: Between Two Thorns (Split World) (Paperback)
Emma Newman's first instalment in the Split Worlds series is fantastic.

She maps out an intriguing world of magic, alternate dimensions and society culture that kept me gripped beyond the final page.

Between Two Thorns focuses on Cathy, a lady from one of the Great Families of Aquae Sulis, the Nether mirror world of Bath. After fleeing to our world (called Mundanus by residents of the Nether), she is returned against her will to take her place in Society. She soon becomes embroiled in a secret plot, and must work with Arbiter Max and mundane Sam to uncover the kidnapping of her uncle, and investigate the presence of the mysterious Gallica-Rosa family in Aquae Sulis.

Newman details these worlds sumptuously, and the narrative switches between Mundanus, the Nether and Exilium effortlessly. A few plot points are left dangling deliciously, to be picked up in Any Other Name.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and am looking forward to discovering more about the Split Worlds, and other books by Newman.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Magical Tale of a Hidden World, 21 April 2013
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This review is from: Between Two Thorns (Split World) (Paperback)
The best fantasy book I have read this year! I devoured it at a single sitting, engrossed as much by the concept as by the well rounded, believable characters and the confident interweaving of the three planes of reality. One other thing I particularly like was that this story is complete and does not leave you hanging uncomfortably for the next book. There is a continuing thread that means that I look forward eagerly to the next two books in the series, but the many of the main skeins in this book are resolved.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly Modern Fairy Tale, 14 April 2013
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This is a beautifully crafted story, the characters fit, the settings fit; everything fits. Reading it you’d expect it to be the author’s 4th or 5th book, but this is Emma Newman’s debut novel; and it doesn’t show. Emma’s been very ambitious leading up to the release of this book, she embarked on a project of releasing a short story a week for a year, all set somewhere within the Split Worlds. I signed up and received an email every week and really enjoyed them all. It was a taste of what was to come, but upon starting this book I realised she’d saved the best for these pages.

Long ago there was a war between the Fae and sorcerers, the sorcerers won and the Split Worlds were created. The normal world (our world called Mundanus and humans are referred to as Mundanes) is devoid of magic and is off limits to the Fae. The Fae are trapped in Exilium, a prison from which there is no escape. Between the two, the Nether – neither here nor there – a world locked in time, its people living a strict caste system, a world where the puppets of the Fae live and plot and scheme. Great Families; all allied to one Fae Lord or another, all vying for power. But much like the Fae they too are trapped in their own prison. Making sure the Fae and Great Families behave – and do not interfere in Mundane life – are the Arbiters, soulless guardians immune to Fae magic, led by a sorcerer who has the power to force the Fae and their puppets to do as they are bid.

This is the Split Worlds, each world unlike the other. It’s a nice twist that Exilium – the Fae prison – is seen as a beautiful world, full of colour, dance, music. Whereas the Nether is dull monochrome, a silver sky, no stars, no sun, no day, no night; its people ageless and trapped. Emma manages to bring each of these worlds vividly to life, no detail is left unclear, the worlds themselves characters as well.

Emma’s work over the previous year with her weekly short stories means she is freed up here to get straight into the story. That being said you can read this without having prior knowledge of what came before; there is ample world building so you know what is what, and who is who. Several strands are started in the opening chapters that run the length of the book, and interestingly not all the strands are tied off in the closing chapters. There are a couple of late reveals that leave the book on a sort of cliff hanger. This bodes well for the future of the Split Worlds.

I was pleasantly surprised by this book; I’ve recently got into stories about Fae and Fae magic. This adds a nice twist to that mythology and it’s obvious from the off that Emma knows and loves what she is writing about.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A bit of a change, 10 April 2013
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Loved it although I think leaving us with two major plot points as a cliff hanger was a little unfair. I am looking forward to the next instalment with baited breath. The characters are all well rounded and I really like the grotesque (gargoyles spout water). Roll on book 2.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A gem of a book!, 6 April 2013
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This review is from: Between Two Thorns (Split World) (Paperback)
I adored this book!!! Couldn't put it down. Emma has written a great story in a world that just jumps out of the pages. Brilliant characters. The good guys that you are rooting for and the bad guys which are just vile. Really can't wait for the next book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Superb read, 27 Mar 2013
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I've followed the split worlds year and a day of short stories and loved them. Emma has a natural way of writing that made this book unputdownable for me
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good first part to a series, 25 Mar 2013
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Good!, although I'm slightly dissapointing that I'll have to wait for the next books to find out what has happened!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Delightfully Written, 23 Mar 2013
This review is from: Between Two Thorns (Split World) (Paperback)
I found this book absolutely delightful to read. It wasn't so much as 'couldn't put it down' as I found myself at 3am still reading and think 'oh bugger, I have to be up at seven' but still wanting to read more.

Cathy is born into the elite of the nether families, but is a rebellious child who actually wants to live a life where she makes the decisions, not have them all made for her. Max is an Arbiter with supernatural powers. To gain these powers he has had his soul removed. But there's more. Something is amiss.
A senior personage has gone missing, someone is kidnapping mundanes and all is not well in Londinium. Have the protectors of the Split Worlds Treaty been corrupted?

Londinium, Aqua Sulis and other cities are mirrored cities of the Mundanus cities in which the action takes place. That would be London, Bath to you and me mundanes.

This is a multiple character book. I get the feeling that some characters introduced in this book will have a greater part in the following two? Time will tell. Having met Emma a couple of times, it is easy to see how she has put a good amount of herself into this book, and in many ways I quite like that. Tea anyone?

Emma's world building is well thought out. I love her easy to read, effortlessly flowing prose which captivates the reader in its delightful manner.
This book is the first of the trilogy, and I can't wait to see how she develops the urban fantasy worlds that she has crafted so well in the first book.

Get it, read it, you will not be disappointed.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Promising, 15 Mar 2013
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D. Harris (Oxford, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Between Two Thorns (Split World) (Paperback)
The first volume of Emma Newman's Split Worlds series is a promising start, although I found it frustrating in places.

Cathy Rhoeas-Papaver (really) is a runaway, a girl trying to live a normal life away from her domineering family. If they catch her she'll be forced back into a restricted, subservient role and probably married off, like it or not. Happy with her similarly SF-obsessed boyfriend, she understandably wants to avoid this.

The twist is, Cathy doesn't just come from some traditionally minded family - they are residents of the Nether, a weird parallel world whose inhabitants seem to think they're living in the pages of Jane Austen (without the good bits). The Nether is supported in a way I couldn't quite get my head round by the Fae, supernatural beings who live in a third world, Exilium. As best can understand, the Fae act out their quarrels through obliging inhabitants of the Nether, themselves unable to leave Exilium because of the zealous Arbiters, spell-wielding policemen. Which brings me to the other main character, Max, the grim Arbiter. Max has a quest of his own - I can't say any for fear of spoilers - which he must put aside when the Master of Ceromonies disappears. The Master is an important figure in social circles - and social circles seem to be the the most important part of life for the dim inhabitants of Aqua Sulis, the Nether version of Bath, so his loss is a disaster.

So, a strong setting, albeit one where the exact workings are frustratingly vague. There are lots of allusions to how this world works and how it got like it is, but little detail. And, in Catherine, a likeable central character in a horrible fix. The story is genuinely interesting and certainly keeps the pages turning, but there were out one or two holes in it - for example, once it becomes clear what's actually happened, you might think that, within the logic of the plot, that central disappearance is actually unnecessary and indeed works against, what it's supposed to achieve rather than for. I also had a slight problem remembering who all some of the main characters were, especially Cathy's siblings and those of William (won't say who he is, spoilers!) Most of them tend to be drawn as "annoying, spiteful sister" or "pompous brother" without much to distinguish them. And there were a fair number of loose ends which I assume will become clear in later volumes.

Never mind. I believe and hope that Emma Newman will do great things with this series. While waiting for the next, you could do a lot worse than read her short story collection From Dark Places which is very, very good.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Takes a while to get going, 11 Mar 2013
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Curiosity Killed The Bookworm (Dorset, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Between Two Thorns (Split World) (Paperback)
Sam was just looking for a place to empty his beer-filled bladder when he stumbles onto something he should in the grounds of the museum in Bath. Meanwhile, in London, Cathy is living a nice normal life with a nice normal boyfriend, until the day her secrecy charm is removed by Lord Poppy, patron to her family. For Cathy is fae-touched and is hiding out from her family and their parochial views. The there's Max, a soulless Arbiter who is tasked with keeping the Mundane safe from the fae and trouble is brewing but he doesn't know what...

Between Two Thorns took a while to get into but by the end I absolutely loved the characters; even the ones I hated at the start. There are a lot of characters, the narrative jumping from story to story and until it starts to weave together, it is a lot to take in and remember. I would have liked a bit more time spent on character development of a few rather than trying to give equal parts to so many. For instance, there was quite a lot of time establishing Sam's relationship with his wife which didn't pan out into anything. Perhaps it's meant for another book, especially the mystery around his wedding ring. Max's circumstances were confusing at first too although I loved his gargoyle sidesick. To be honest, I kept getting Sam and Max mixed up, I think it was the three-letter names as their characters are not meant to be similar at all.

The fae of the Split Worlds are an ironic take on flower fairies. Each family is assigned a flower name but in true faerie fashion, they are anything but benevolent and rather fond of mischief and mind games. I did quite like Lord Poppy though; he seemed fair and at least found Cathy interesting, whilst the rest of her society thought her a bit odd for having Mundane values.

The contrast between Mundanus and the Nether is central to the story. Cathy is from a society family (think of Austen era) and is expected to be a meek, obliging woman and be married off to a match that would further their standing. Having learned about the freedoms of Mundane women in forbidden books as a child, Cathy runs away and goes to university, very much against her family's wishes. Whilst she is a perfectly normal, modern woman to the reader's eyes, she is seen as an outcast in the Nether. As her basic rights are taken away from her, you feel her frustrations.

Overall, it's a fun and, at times, charming book if you don't expect too much from it. The series has potential to be quite interesting and as said before, I really did start to love the characters and their world. And then it stopped. It's one of those books where I felt I had to check I wasn't missing pages because it didn't feel like an ending at all. I don't mind loose ends but, I don't know, it was all too sudden, just when the pace was picking up.

Review copy provided by publisher.
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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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