I received this book via Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of this review.Among the Beasts and Briars by Ashley Poston
Published by Balzer + Bray on 2020-10-20
Length: 352 pages
Reviewing eARC from Publisher
Reading Challenges: 2020 New Release Challenge
Ashley Poston, acclaimed author of Heart of Iron, returns with a dark, lush fairy tale–inspired fantasy for fans of Sara Raasch and Susan Dennard.
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.
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 a small and irritating fox from the royal garden 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.
Ashley Poston has crafted a new fairy tale for the ages! Among the Beasts and Briars may very well be my favorite book of the year. When I originally picked it up, I thought it would be a retelling. My mistake! Poston has made her own story, and it has everything a fairy tale requires. To quote my favorite princess, there are “far-off places, daring sword fights, magic spells, and a prince in disguise!” Among the Beasts and Briars will take the reader on an adventure with a strong heroine, a crafty fox, and a curse hot on their trail.
“There were no stories of gardeners’ daughters. Or bakers’ daughters. Or blacksmiths’. We did not bloom where our roots did not grow. So I accepted that I would disappear into history just as every other gardener’s, baker’s, blacksmith’s, or merchant’s daughter. And I would never be asked to dance.”
Cerys is the daughter of the royal gardener and best friend to the princess, soon-to-be queen, of Aloriya. She’s happy in her garden, but something seems to be missing from her life. Something she can’t put her finger on. When she was younger, she barely escaped the woods and its curse that killed her friends and mother. Now she lives her life day to day never really forgetting what she lost and missing them deeply. Her only companion is the fox she saved from a bear trap. He steals from her garden, and she pretends to scold him but in truth she loves him. During the princess’s coronation, the bone-eaters of the woods arrive, and it is up to Cerys to save them. Fleeing into the forest, she teams up with her fox and a mysterious bear to find the lost city of Voryn in the hopes that they can save her home.
Fox is the best! He has been Cerys’s companion for as long as he can remember. She saved him once, now it’s his job to do the same. He loves her smile, and so he does and says things simply to make her laugh as they journey deeper into the woods. Fox is kind, clever, and mischievous, but he also believes that he isn’t brave. A fox will run and hide when in danger, evasion is their game. But he quickly learns he can’t leave Cerys to fend for herself.
Overall I really enjoyed Among the Beasts and Briars. I don’t want to say too much for fear of spoilers. I was hooked from the beginning and didn’t want the story to come to an end (which by the way, you should totally read through the acknowledgements for a little easter egg or two at the end of the book). If you are looking for a story full of whimsy and adventure, look no further than this book.