Galloping Gargoyles in Between Two Thorns || BOOK REVIEW

Between Two Thorns by Emma Newman

4/5 STARS

L1050268

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Author: Emma Newman
Published: August 2016
Publisher: Diversion Publishing
Pages: 334 {paperback}

Originally posted on Goodreads


Initial Thoughts Upon Finishing

This book got better and better with every chapter that passed. It’s such an interesting blend of the real world and fae – mostly because of the ‘fae touched’. Their in-between state added a unique element to this fantasy storyline that made it super enjoyable. The characters were all mostly spiteful and horrible to Cathy but I loved it – it made the mystery plot line to the story even better with all these horrid people being ‘polite’ in a backwards way to try and shame someone else and therefore complicating the mystery. It was like Mean Girls teamed up with Sherlock Holmes or something. SO GOOD. GIVE ME THE REST OF THE SERIES ALREADY.


Between Two Thorns

This book was something a little different for me. I finished reading it and felt the need to tell people that not only was it fantasy, but urban fantasy. Is it urban fantasy? Who knows, the genre topic is a thing best not discussed with me less we digress into the chaotic catastrophe that was my latest video. Ahem.

This book has a grungy, fantastical feel to it and I really enjoyed that. It’s set in England — swinging between Manchester and London — and also in the In Between (I can’t remember if that’s its official name but let’s roll with it). The In Between is where the fae come into it because YES ladies and gentlemen, I give you a book about fae.

Does anyone else get over excited at the prospect of fae in books? I blame Julie Kagawa. In this world, the fae live in a very strange realm and those that are ‘fae touched’ — I presume somewhere in their bloodline there was some mingling and now they have super freaky abilities (they don’t but whatever) live in the In Between. So the In Between is a place to put people who the fae have accidentally contaminated with their magicalness and have gone: oh goodness Jeff, what should we do with these here halfbreeds? To which a friend must have replied: ah Barnaby, let’s quick make a place in between time where these pompously stupid people can get stuck in an era of Victorian-ity and live like weirdos.

Clearly that’s what happened.

So our main character Cathy is the fae-touch person in question who does not like the In Between. Considering it is, indeed, stuck in a timestream that moves much slower than the outside world they are still living to Victorian standards. So being a woman isn’t all that great. So Cathy does what any young lady would do: she gets herself a scholarship to Manchester uni in the pursuit of excellence, and then flips them all the bird and runs away — using magical spells from a cool, if weak-minded, sorcerer.

Meanwhile, we have a paralleling storyline of a guy called Max. He’s what’s called an Arbiter WHICH, brace yourself, is a police-sort-of-presence whose soul has been dislocated — DISLOCATED, I SAY — to ensure that all official decisions and motivations for solving crimes are never interfered with by personal values or the soft side of one’s personality that might not enjoy, say, climbing to the top of a really tall cathedral and leaning right over the edge to spy on someone.

This is very cool concept. Newman, allow me to pat you on the back. Never, in my many years of reading, have I encountered this aspect of dislocated souls. Obviously, it makes for a very intriguing plot line as Max’s department, if you will, gets destroyed and then his soul (to whom he communicates with by allowing it to possess statues) gets stuck in a gargoyle. Said gargoyle is most excellent and a character I want to see more of. However, you could see how this is problematic for Max.

SO THERE’S A LOT HAPPENING. I recommend this on many levels if anything just for the fact that you’ll get to read about a sassy gargoyle.


A Clash of Times

I liked this aspect of Victorian vs. modern, a lot. It gave Cathy a chance to break free of societal norms and blossom into a young lady in the way only possible in a world that allows you to vent your frustration via xbox games.

I liked when we jumped back into the In Between and came up against these pig-headed characters who were painfully sexist and belittling to Cathy. As much as I didn’t connect nor really like her (more on that later), I did find myself empathising with her. Moreover, it created very complex issues with liking other characters (men, usually) who have grown up in this social setting. How can you like a character who is, for all intents and purposes, meant to be a nice guy if he is tightly strapped by sexist ideas and motivations which therefore lead you to wanting to slap him every second sentence?

It’s a very confusing book in that sense. Morally conflicting, if you will. But I liked it. And Max’s story is a nice relief from the stress of Cathy’s story which has so much going on. Although the divide between times is much less apparent in Max’s story (maybe because he’s a man) so you get to focus more on the action and the absurdity of having your soul stuck in a gargoyle.


Characters

TO THE JUICY PARTS. I really didn’t like Cathy. She was bland. She was infuriating and overall just didn’t have the ‘wow’ factor as a heroine. When the book starts off relatively slowly and then you’re given a character who’s certainly not Katniss, it’s hard to find the motivation to keep pushing through.

She did grow on me at times, however, and I have high hopes that as the series progresses I’ll find myself liking her more and more. To be fair, she is limited in options and actions by the situations she finds herself in, but nonetheless I didn’t connect with her.

Max is a difficult character. Given that he doesn’t technically have a soul for any part of this book, it’s very hard to guess at what he’s like. Especially because when we have the gargoyle nattering away you’re presented with a very contrasting image of what Max is like. Is he serious and work-driven? Or is he fun-loving and accidentally found himself in a job that has transformed him?

So I’d say Max is a character I will withhold judgement on. But I will say that never was there a more entertaining character than Max’s soul in the gargoyle. Given the fact that he is in a gargoyle it easily lent itself to funny moments when this great, stone figure is trying to sneak around.

Will was a character who I loved and hated. You want to like him but overall he comes across as a right dickhead. Which is where I think his character suffers from the ‘time period’ that he’s in. I hope that in future books he will blossom in the chivalrous, woman-respecting man we all know he could be. Let’s hope, anyway.


Summary

So yes, a very good and unique book. I highly recommend for all Young Adult readers out there and particularly those fond of fantasy (who isn’t fond of fantasy?). The characters were complicated because of their situation, if on the whole a little unlikeable, but I have faith that this series will only get better as the books progress!


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Have you read Between Two Thorns?

What did you think?


Happy Reading

~~ Kirstie ~~

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3 thoughts on “Galloping Gargoyles in Between Two Thorns || BOOK REVIEW

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