I was so excited to read Among the Beasts and Briars. This is one book that I saw on a shelf and bought mostly because of the beautiful cover (there’s a picture on my Instagram or you can look it up). After I read the title, I realized that it was a fairy tale retelling, which I love. I made sure that it was the first book I read this year.
The kingdom of Aloriya prospered next to the cursed woods, once upon a time. But as Cerys, the royal gardener’s daughter, watches her friend about to accept the crown, the curse comes to the kingdom. Cerys must take on a quest to save everyone, including her friend and her father. She has no time to question her decision as it throws her into the woods.
Among the Beasts and Briars was such a twisty story. The beginning of the novel does an excellent job at building a believable world, solid in its foundation. The first twist shocked me. It hooked me into the story straight from the inciting incident, and this novel did not disappoint me.
One issue I had with this book was the very beginning. I didn’t feel like it gave me enough time to get to know the characters before it thrust them into the action. Another chapter or two of interactions between characters would have given me a better sense of their interpersonal relations. It would have made the rest of the novel even more powerful and emotionally impactful.
The two principal characters–Cerys and Fox–grew beautifully during their quest through the cursed woods. Fox’s witty humour had me laughing out loud, while Cerys’s self-doubt made me feel akin to her. I’m sure there are lots of people who would understand how rooted self-doubt becomes until you completely believe that you mean nothing to the world around you. This was an amazing journey that proved Cerys wrong, with the help of Fox’s strange perspective.
This story has quite a few classic Beauty and the Beast tropes in it, and one from Briar Rose, or Sleeping Beauty. I wanted to get into them all here and talk about what stories they come from, but I try to keep these reviews as spoiler-free as possible. I don’t feel like I can do both. The author, Ashley Poston, commented on the Goodreads page for the book quoting Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, saying “far-off places, daring sword fights, magic spells, a prince in disguise!” (Goodreads, Among the Beasts and Briars). After reading it, I can tell you that this is the best description to give this book.
Though this book lost a star to its lack of character building in the very beginning, it was a great read. I couldn’t put it down after the inciting incident happened, and with every twist and turn, it pulled me deeper and deeper into the Wildwood. I hope that you give this book a chance to pull you in too. You’ll find that nothing is what it seems.
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