‘Between Two Thorns’ by Emma Newman is the first in the Split Worlds series, and has been built up greatly thanks to the release of a short story each week for a year, found here which you are able to sign up to, and either read or listen (or both!) while waiting for the release of the book in March 2013. This is how this series began, heading towards being self-published before Angry Robot discovered the series and asked to publish it. You can still read the 52 shorts yourself before getting the novel when it comes out next month.
This book is urban-fantasy, set partly in England with the magical Nether, pressed down over the top of our own world, separating us from the world of Exilium, home of the fae. There are Arbiters who protect Mundanus (our world) who are unknown to us and hated by their own kind for the order they try to keep.
Cathy hates it all, the arrogance in Aquae Sulis (their Bath) and hence, tries to escape, where we meet her at the start of the novel. She loves tea, jeans and the world of Mundanus in general, hiding as her family search for her, doing the books for a magical shop in return.
As is expected however, she can’t run forever. She’s expected to marry her betrothed, a fellow named Will, who is thankfully well meaning but damaged from the world they live in, making him arrogant and ignorant at times.
The plot roars on from there. Many threads are left open by the end of the book, meaning you need to read the next in order to be satisfied – not that it’s confirmed they’ll be tied up there! At times the world feels utterly natural, the magic second-nature and immersive, but I must admit at times it was a little jolting, such as when certain characters don’t trust things like trains, but they trust cars instead. Possibly this is only personal feeling as I would trust trains far, far more! (Perhaps the author felt trains ‘belong’ to the Harry Potter fandom now?)
Overall, an interesting novel, and I look forward to seeing the next in the series.