Science fiction and fantasy                                            

Any Other Name

by Emma Newman


In the second book of the Split Worlds series, Cathy is feeling trapped. She does not want to get married and spend the rest of her life in the restrictive Nether, and she definitely does not want to consummate a marriage with a man she doesn't love. Her time spent in the world above has given her a taste for freedom and fulfilment. She's willing to risk the ageing effects of living above if it means she can spend her life doing something meaningful.

Meanwhile Sam, the mundane who gets mixed up in fae business in the first book, also finds himself frustrated by his powerlessness. He attempts to rescue people who have been trapped in Exilium, where the fae have been exiled, only to discover that fae curses are much crueller than he anticipated. Back in the real world his marriage is failing, and his wife is drifting further away from him. It doesn't help that he is also very distrustful of the influence of his wife's employer.

Amelia and Cornelius Alba-Rosa are facing ruin, and they depend on the generosity of Will Reticulata-Iris to keep them out of servitude. But Will has been set the task of becoming the Duke of Londinium, which is one of the most powerful positions in Nether society. If he doesn't do whatever it takes to achieve this, his family will punish him. Max and his gargoyle soul are still investigating the murders of hundreds of Arbiters, who are like the fae and Nether police. So there are lots of threads that make for a pleasingly twisty story.

To begin with, this seems to be a straightforward rant against mysogyny and oppression. That seems like a strange target to aim at when our society has already moved on a couple of hundred years from the way the backwards Nether families behave. However, nothing is quite as simple as it first appears, as Cathy soon learns.

The characters in this novel continue to grow and demonstrate more sides to themselves. I really like Max's gargoyle, who shows all of the emotion that the Arbiter is cut off from. He often comes across as charming or funny, and I would have liked to read more about him. I also cared more about some of the other characters who may have come across as uncaring, shallow, or villainous in the first novel, but who become more sympathetic when we read more about their point of view.

Any Other Name is nicely paced, neither too slow not too breathless. It's an intriguing story that had me gripped throughout. The fae are both beautiful, unusual, and pathologically sadistic, an apt metaphor for a kind of aristocratic society that can only exist at great cost to those unfortunate enough to be forced to support it.

23rd October 2013

Book Details

Year: 2013

Categories: Books


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