Hi friends! This was the book I received for my November OwlCrate Box! This is a new addition to my book box subscriptions, but I love it so far! Each month you get a new title (often they’re signed or have unique covers – this one was so cool!) along with some really cute goodies and things from small artists. Last month I got the cutest reading planner – among other cute things, of course – and I use it literally every day. While I’m not an OwlCrate rep (I wish!), I would highly recommend checking them out.
Synopsis & Quick Thoughts
Among the Beasts & Briars is the latest novel from author Ashley Poston. Aloriya is a city bordered by the Wildwoods, a cruel, mysterious, and dangerous forest. For centuries, a bargain has held Aloriya and the Wildwoods at a tense truce. Cerys is the daughter of the king’s royal gardener, the best friend of Arwen (the heir to the throne), and human companion to a fox, Fox. When all hell breaks loose at the queen’s coronation, Cerys and Fox are forced on the run, to enter the woods and try and find a way to save her home.
This book is fun and cute. It’s an easy and quick read. It also just…wasn’t for me, for a number of reasons. Between the target audience, repetition, predictability, and ~romance~, this book and I didn’t jive as well as I had hoped, but as a matter of personal taste more than poor execution on the part of the author.
I think my favorite thing about Among the Beasts & Briars was the atmosphere and environmental descriptions, between Aloriya, the Wildwoods, and Voryn. The feelings and senses that the prose evoked within me were very fun and vivid.
This book was largely what I’d consider a fun read. Not too deep, not too depressing, and not requiring too much thought in terms of remembering characters or plot contrivances. This is a great book to take with you on vacation, or read at the beach or poolside. In this context, the book is good. I also appreciated that this novel contains a full and complete plot and arc, although it is alluded to at the end that there may be sequels to follow.
There are also some aspects of this book that while I didn’t love, I know they could appeal to others. This book fits a niche right in the transitional period from middlegrade to young adult novels that I have noticed tends to be a less written-for audience. The plot of this novel is constructed in a very fairytale-esque style, which I can see appealing to lovers of classic fairytales or Disney movies. This novel also features a fox that becomes a human, which, albeit strange to me, is a fun and whimsical touch to the story that can be enjoyable to some readers.
I think that the main reason I didn’t enjoy this novel as much as I had hoped to was because I didn’t fit the target audience. This book was marketed as a young adult book but is definitely written in a younger style more geared to those coming out of middlegrade books. The rampant repetition present for the majority of the novel grew tiresome for me pretty early on. Having to read about our protagonists on the run, encountering a monster, fighting, and going back on the run, and circular conversations about how Fox avoids conflict by running and how Cerys can’t do what she needs to because she’s a gardener’s daughter got old fast. Whenever my fiancé asked what was happening in my book, I would usually just reply, “They’re still fucking around in the forest”, which was my reply for most of the length of the story.
I also somewhat took issue with the ending of the novel – the plot twist that was set up was so heavily hinted at that I would be pressed to call it a reveal at all. From that point forward, the climax and ending felt incredibly rushed and far too fast, considering the pace of the novel thus far.
Also, the whole romance in the book was not cute or charming to me. Every time I found myself enjoying the relationship between Cerys and Fox I would be reminded that Cerys is in love with a literal fox in a human’s body and it would stop being cute and start being weird to me again. Just saying.
Rating & Final Thoughts
I think I’m going to give Among the Beasts & Briars 3 out of 5 stars. This is one of the first times where I’ve given a rating that doesn’t exactly correlate with my enjoyment of the novel; if I were to do that, my rating would probably be half a star lower. However, just because this book was written for too young an audience for my liking doesn’t mean that it’s not a great option for someone interested in that style of writing. If you’re a fan of middlegrade or looking for good transitional books between that and young adult, or are a lover of fairytale style novels, I’d pick this one up for sure. Otherwise, maybe give it a pass.
Buy Among the Beasts & Briars by Ashley Poston here.*
*as a reminder, I am an Amazon affiliate and make a small commission off of purchases made using my link.