4 out of 5 Stars
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. The most danger she faces now, as a gardener’s daughter, is the annoying fox who stalks the royal gardens and won’t leave her alone.
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 the small fox from the garden, a strange and powerful bear, 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.
A dark and intriguing original fairy tale complete with blood magic, gruesome creatures, undead minions, and body horror. Yet that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of room for humor and some romance.
So many fantasies follow princes, great warriors, and powerful sorcerers, but what about the folk in the background? This story follows the humble daughter of the castle gardener who also happens to be cursed with the magic of the forbidden forest. Although blood magic is not unique to the fantasy genre, I loved how Cerys uses it in her everyday life to help wilting flowers only to turn around and use the same magic to fight against monsters.
Poston turns several tropes on their head in this novel–a cowardly love interest you can’t help but root for, a princess who’s literally the blood-thirsty monster, and the heroic gardener. Much of the character interactions circled around a theme of trust and friendship versus self interest. I loved watching these kids dance around each other and their feelings while everyone tried not to die.
The writing style was smooth and easy to read, but sometimes I found myself thrown off by modern language used in an alternate universe industrial revolution-like setting. Other than that complaint, the plot moved quickly right up to a rather cute ending that tied things up quite nicely.
Overall I give Among the Beasts and Briars 4 out of 5 stars. This is a fun and fast read great for any fairy tale lovers out there.