Review: Among the Beasts & Briars by Ashley Poston

Among the Beasts & Briars

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.

Ok, so first off let me comment on that absolutely beautiful cover. The writing, the fox - it really does suit this book's setting. It is completely gorgeous and it gives me an idea of what I'm going to find inside.

Don't get me wrong, I was right. The cover does suit the book perfectly. The setting in this story is so rich and lush and so descriptive so I could envision it when I closed my eyes, especially the wood where much of this story takes place. In fact, sometimes the description was too much, it was a lot of words and a lot of adjectives and it did take away from the story, especially when the setting had already been established. This is something that I found a lot of in this book - repetitiveness. There's all the description and then there's the repetition of the "I'm just a gardeners daughter". 

I also struggled with the infodump at the start. There are all these people names and place names and barely any opportunity to acclimatise to it - I still don't think that I truly understood where we were by the end of the book.

The characters were a mixed bag for me - I did like Cerys, though she did come across as a bit of a Mary-Sue sometimes. She was a fun character and was witty as well. I did really enjoy her interactions with Fox. Fox as a whole was an okay character, but I did find that there were some issues with him. How does a character who was a fox and has no memories of being anything except a fox know what many human things are - for example a scar or a birthmark? I get that in a way this is semi-explained later in the book but it still doesn't all add up. Vala the bear was a great character. I loved her presence.

Aside from all of the above, I did enjoy the first three quarters of the book. The pacing was absolutely brilliant. My issue was when the story got to Voryn as it suddenly kind of began to remind me of all of the dystopian books that came out following The Hunger Games where the utopia is *gasp* not as good as everyone thinks and is led by a steel fisted leader and blah blah... I just started to lose interest around this area. It seemed rushed and not anywhere near as good as the first half of the book. The final part of the book is supposed to be driven by the twists and turns and secrets that are revealed but frankly, I had kind of predicted them in advance.

Overall, Among the Beasts & Briars was an okay book. I enjoyed reading it and it kept me interested enough but it's not going to stand out amongst all of the brilliant fantasy books that are coming out at the moment.

Book released  20th October 2020 by Balzer + Bray
Book received from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review

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