This series just keeps getting better and better. It’s easily my current favourite series. Emma Newman’s world building is superb; it’s simultaneously simple to imagine yourself in the world she has created and excruciatingly difficult to explain it to someone who hasn’t yet had the pleasure.
If you are one of those yet to discover the Split Worlds, please get yourself a copy of Between Two Thorns, the first in the series (my review here), and prepare for full immersion.
I don’t want to talk about plot too much – spoilers are the cardinal sin of blogging, and it’s too hard to avoid spoiling earlier titles in a series when reviewing mid-series books. What I will say is that the plotting is tight and intricate. We retain the central story of Cathy and her struggle against the Victorian values of Society in this instalment, as well as various brilliant sub plots from the first two titles, along with some newly-added threads. The plot as a whole is like a spiral, getting tighter as we approach the core. I can’t wait to see where this will all end up!
The real strengths of this series, however, lie in the setting (think I may have mentioned amazing world building already…) and characters. Cathy is one of those protagonists I’d love to meet and would expect to get along with, and I am loving Will more as the series goes on. Max and the gargoyle are one of fantasy’s greatest comedy pairings, and yet have genuine depth as individuals. And now I feel bad for not mentioning the hapless Sam, whose chance involvement with the fae world is clearly heading for its own interesting (and please not too catastrophic) conclusion. This is not a fantasy world populated with cookie-cutter archetypes and tropes; rather, Emma Newman clearly enjoys playing with and twisting those familiar figures and ideas, giving them greater depth and believability.
This is a truly fabulous series and I find myself at once desperate for the next instalment and wishing the series never to end (although the weekly stories by email certainly helps!). If you like fantasy, especially combined with smart humour and urban modernity, you need this series.
Book Description (do not read if you haven’t read the first two books in the series!)
In love and war nothing is safe.
William Iris struggles to keep the throne of Londinium whilst hated by his own court and beset by outsiders, while Cathy discovers the legacy of her former governess. But those who dare to speak out about Society are always silenced. Sometimes for good.
While trying to avoid further torments from the mercurial fae, Sam finds himself getting tangled in the affairs of the Elemental Court. But an unexpected offer from the powerful and enigmatic Lord Iron turns out to be far more than Sam bargained for.
Max and the gargoyle are getting closer to uncovering who is behind the murder of the Bath Chapter and the corruption in London and Max finds the gargoyle’s controversial ideas harder to ignore. Can he stay true to his sworn duty without being destroyed by his own master, whose insanity threatens to unravel them all?
Out now from Angry Robot books
My grateful thanks to the publisher for allowing me a review copy via NetGalley. Please note this provision does not influence my reviews – I only review a book if I’ve enjoyed it.