Sam is an average (ie normal) guy. Having gone out with some friends, he is stumbling, drunk through an alley on his way home when he stops to pee against a wall. Unfortunately for Sam, it turns out he interrupts a paranormal crime in process – two strange-looking men removing a body. And thus begins a strange, circuitous story.
Cathy lives in between worlds. She lives between Mundanus (aka – our present world) and Exilium. This in-between world is known as Nether and has reflections of Mundanus cities. Cathy doesn’t live between worlds by choice. She ran away from her cruel family, but was discovered by her patron (Lord Poppy). Poppy ruined the charm that kept her hidden and now she’s back with her horrible family and facing an arranged marriage.
Max is an Arbiter. He protects humans from the foul Fae once a city has been compromised. But lately things have been rough for Max. Four humans have gone missing in just as many weeks and he needs to investigate. It doesn’t help that he’s the only Arbiter in the area. Max might feel some remorse, but Arbiters are able to detach themselves from their work. Literally. Max puts his soul into a stone which hangs on a necklace. The necklace hangs around the neck of a gargoyle and that gargoyle then carries his soul.
And finally, William – Cathy’s arranged husband-to-be. He’s tossed into the mix.
Max needs help and Cathy turns out to be his best option. But can he trust her? She has her own agenda and Max doesn’t understand why she wants to give up everything – a life of privilege – to run away.
This book … this book is a hot mess. Author Emma Newman does a really wonderful job of giving her characters unique, distinct voices, and I generally liked the three worlds that we get to see. But the story is convoluted, and while it does ultimately wrap around and come together, it takes much too long to get there. Some serious tightening could really have helped. Did we honestly need William’s point of view? What did he add to the story? Take him away and do we miss anything? No.
Cathy is an appropriate YA heroine. She’s tough, gritty, and independent, even though no one seems to let her be so. She’s a lot like any other female protagonist in YA books (I bet you can name a few without thinking too hard) and while I liked her, I would say that she doesn’t stand out in any way from all the other YA female protagonists on the bookshelves.
My favorite character in the book is the gargoyle, carrying around a human(?) soul. More of the gargoyle and less of William, please.
I’ve read a couple of Emma Newman books (including, unfortunately, the third book in this series before reading this) but this has probably been my least favorite.
Looking for a good book? Between Two Thorns by Emma Newman is the first book in a YA series. It struggles to find its voice and storyline while setting the stage for a longer story arch.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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Between Two Thorns
author: Emma Newman
series: The Split Worlds #1
publisher: Angry Robot
paperback, 384 pages