Banner by Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings

I’m participating in a four week read-along of Emma Newman’s BETWEEN TWO THORNS, the first book in The Split World series. Hosted by Lisa from Over the Effing Rainbow and organized via the SF/F Read Alongs group on Goodreads.

Something is wrong in Aquae Sulis, Bath’s secret mirror city.

The new season is starting and the Master of Ceremonies is missing. Max, an Arbiter of the Split Worlds Treaty, is assigned with the task of finding him with no one to help but a dislocated soul and a mad sorcerer. View Spoiler »

It’s not too late to join in! Here’s the complete schedule for the read-along:

Part 1 – Monday 9th May: Chapters 1-9, hosted by Over The Effing Rainbow
Part 2 – Monday 16th May: Chapters 10-18, hosted by On Starships and Dragonwings
Part 3 – Monday 23rd May: Chapters 19-25, hosted by x + 1
Part 4 – Monday 30th May: Chapters 26-End, hosted by Lynn’s Books

On to the questions. Note: the following contains spoilers for chapters 10-18.

1. We get to meet Will and see a couple of different sides to him. What do you think of Cathy’s betrothed?

I’m not totally sure what to make of Will, to be honest. I liked the glimpse we got of his personality under the Society façade in his first POV chapter, what with his adventures on the Grand Tour and his genuine bromance with his friend Oliver.

However. He also seemed like a total d-bag when he was talking about his betrothal to Cathy. He’s clearly got something planned – I got the impression that Will doesn’t actually plan on marrying Cathy, at least not without getting more status or property out of the deal. I also didn’t like the way that he used magic on her without her permission. That reminded me too much of the curse that Tom threatened to use on her, the one that takes away a person’s agency and ability to move.

2. The Sorcerer seems to be acting a bit inconsistently, any ideas what is going on with him?

Besides some very obvious personality quirks, I have no idea! His social etiquette lessons with Petra show that Ekstrand has very few social skills and is extremely uncomfortable with strangers. While that’s an interesting characteristic, I don’t know how – or if – that will come into play in the rest of the novel.

He seems very scattered, and he’s clearly worried about other Sorcerers encroaching on his territory. I wonder if the deaths at the Bath Chapter are related to both the Fae and a Sorcerer power struggle? Hmm.

3. Things are starting to link up now that we have context for the events at the beginning of the book, but how do you think it all connects together? Could it really be all coincidence? How do you think Cathy will tie into Max’s story?

So now that he’s discovered the wallet, Max is clearly about to question Sam. Sam saw the brothers Thorn remove a body – presumably dead or at least cursed – from the museum, probably the missing Master of Ceremonies. Sam is connected to the Fae touched somehow, probably through his wife. Will he say something to Max that will lead him to Cathy?

I think Max and Cathy’s story lines will link up through the Censor and Master of Ceremonies connection, since they’re Cathy’s relatives. Aside from that though, I really have no idea how those two stories are  going to converge.

4. We get up close and personal with Cathy’s family. What do you think of her brother Tom and sister-in-law Lucy? Her parents? Do you think she’ll have any allies going forward?

Oh Tom. I was rooting for you! I was holding out hope that he was quietly rebelling against his family but it seems like he’s toeing the line. Lucy, on the other hand, is THE BEST! She is going to be a godsend for Cathy, with her modern slang and her completely chill response to Cathy’s bedraggled return to the Nether. She’s already my favourite of all the Society characters. What’s up with her American accent? What’s the deal with her marriage to Tom?? I need more info!

Her father is just as awful as I thought he would be based on the few clues we were given about him. How gross was it when he used that purity charm checker on Cathy? Ugh. And of course he’s a despicable psycho, what with his favourite “I think I’ll beat my children today” cane resting in its place of honour. I really need him to get some comeuppance, ASAP. Cathy’s mum is also terrible, although I can’t help but wonder if the abuse that she’s undoubtedly suffered for decades has shaped her into the unfeeling person she is now. Of course that doesn’t excuse anything, but it would explain her coldness at least.

How did you feel about the second part of BETWEEN TWO THORNS? Did you like Lucy as much as I did? Let me know in the comments!