Title // Among the Beasts & Briars
Author // Ashley Poston
Publisher // Balzer + Bray
Publication Date // October 20, 2020
Synopsis // Cerys is safe in the kingdom of Aloriya.
Here there are no droughts, disease, or famine, and peace is everlasting. It has been this way for hundreds of years, since the first king made a bargain with the Lady who ruled the forest that borders the kingdom. But as Aloriya prospered, the woods grew dark, cursed, and forbidden. Cerys knows this all too well: when she was young, she barely escaped as the woods killed her friends and her mother. Now Cerys carries a small bit of the curse—the magic—in her blood, a reminder of the day she lost everything. The most danger she faces now, as a gardener’s daughter, is the annoying fox who stalks the royal gardens and won’t leave her alone.
As a new queen is crowned, however, things long hidden in the woods descend on the kingdom itself. Cerys is forced on the run, her only companions the small fox from the garden, a strange and powerful bear, and the magic in her veins. It’s up to her to find the legendary Lady of the Wilds and beg for a way to save her home. But the road is darker and more dangerous than she knows, and as secrets from the past are uncovered amid the teeth and roots of the forest, it’s going to take everything she has just to survive.
My Rating: ★★★★☆ (4.5)
Many thanks to the publisher, Harper Collins, for sending me a free ARC in exchange for an honest review!
If I had to sum up this book in a few words, I would say it is a fairy tale. I had previously read Ashley Poston’s contemporaries so I wasn’t sure how she would write a fantasy; rest assured, she nailed it.
I’m the type of person who adores fairy tales and retellings, and has spent many a time reading the original Grimm tales with fascination. Reading this book felt like that. It’s a full length novel, with fleshed out characters and growth, but at its core, it feels like I’ve been transported to a unique original fairy tale with magical woods, curses and magic, enchanted crowns and kingdoms, animals that act like humans, cursed princes and princesses, and more!
The world and atmosphere was probably my favorite part of this enchanting novel. The descriptions were incredible, so I could perfectly picture everything happening. The world building was wonderful, and I really got a feel for the kingdoms (including a mythical magical kingdom deep in the forest!) and the enchanted wood. At the same time, it was full of surprises and I was always delighted (or horrified… at a few of the darker parts haha) when I turned the page.
One small complaint is that there were a few things that seemed a bit confusing. Most of it was worked out, but I would have liked a bit more closure at the ending on a couple of things.
I loved the characters too! Our main character Cerys is sort of an unlikely hero pulled into a quest by necessity, and I loved seeing her rise to the challenge. Her companions include a bear and a hilariously cowardly but also brave and wonderful fox, and yes this is the kind of book that can make me love a bear and a fox as much as any human character.
There are also a few characters from Cerys’s past, which is fraught with loss, that she must grapple with, and I loved hearing about them, and seeing her interactions with them, so much. All the characters really exhibited growth (especially the fox haha) and felt fleshed out and three dimensional.
One small complaint is that the beginning of this book felt a bit slow and dull to me, and it took a little while to get to the quest and the bulk of the action and adventure. But after we got there, I was fully immersed and pulled along! And the last hundred pages or so had me fully on the edge of my seat, turning pages as quickly as I could!
There were also a few twists and revelations that were kind of shocking, but also not that shocking in the context of it being a fairy tale but still crazy! If the beginning was slow, the ending was super intense and exciting!
I was so here for the romance! It was pretty subtle and definitely didn’t take away from the main point of the book, but it had its moments where I was smiling so much and so happy! There was a bit of a we’re going to die and this probably isn’t going to work out… but hey let’s flirt anyways element that I loved!
And yes, it was filled with hilarious banter and fun! Although the genre is so different, the puns and snark and light fun tone (for the most part… it did get dark at times…) definitely reminded me of Poston’s other books, and everything I loved about them! I laughed out loud a couple times for sure. And the book is told in alternating first person POV, and I gotta say, I loved one of the POVs so much and was just dying to be in that person’s head haha.
Overall, this was a super fun and enchanting fantasy fairy tale book! It wasn’t perfect, but it was still really really good, and I definitely recommend it, especially if you love Poston’s other books.
Are you excited to read this book? Do you like fairy tales? Which is your favorite Ashley Poston book? I’d love to chat in the comments below!