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Review: Between Two Thorns by Emma Newman,
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...