Among The Beasts & Briars by Ashley Poston
*I received a free review copy in exchange for an honest review of this book.
Among The Beasts & Briars is for anyone who wants the undead in their fairy tale, some complexity in their fantasy monarchy; who dreams of saplings taking root in their blood. A little bit of romance, facing of fears, running in terror.
I was engrossed from the first page: the initial descriptions were evocative; the past tragedy is teased just long enough to be intriguing but not so long as to feel like something important was being hidden or ignored. There's a whole lot of world built very quickly and it's very evocative. This has the feeling of a fairy tale from the first line and I love it.
The friendship between Cerys/Daisy and Fox feels tender and genuine, it shows the little things that add up to being a complex but overall great rapport. They share the narration pretty evenly and the handoffs between perspectives feel natural, like it's time for the other one for a bit before switching back. The way Fox is handled felt really good. He’s aware of how he’s changed and he isn’t instantly okay with it. The dysmorphia he experiences can map onto a variety of real-world experiences but the sense of wrongness he describes felt very familiar to me. Now, whether you like the resolution will depend a great deal on what kind of catharsis you’re looking for. For this story, not trying to be an analog for anything, the resolution is amazing, I love everything about it. It fits the characters, it fits the plot, it makes sense and I love what it did. If you’re very invested in one outcome or another for Fox, I don’t know if you’re in the half who will be elated or disappointed.
The story feels very complete, and while I definitely want to find more by this author I'm very content with the time spent here. I think it's just the right amount of attention and emphasis for this narrative.
CW for body dysmorphia, death, cutting.