Thursday, 6 June 2013

Any Other Name - Book Review

Any Other Name
by Emma Newman

Cathy has been forced into an arranged marriage with William - a situation that comes with far more strings than even she could have anticipated, especially when she learns of his family's intentions for them both.

Meanwhile, Max and the gargoyle investigate The Agency - a mysterious organisation that appears to play by its own rules - and none of them favourable to Society.

Over in Mundanus, Sam has discovered something very peculiar about his wife's employer - something that could herald a change for everyone in both sides of the Split Worlds. (Synopsis from Goodreads)

Warning: slight spoilers if you haven't read the first book. 

I was really excited about this book as I loved the first one and was anxious to see what would happen next. It didn’t disappoint at all! The characters continue to be interesting, the stakes are even higher, and there is plenty of intrigue all round.

Cathy is now being forced into a marriage she does not want, and the author does a good job of making us feel the tension and desperation that Cathy is going through. This is really her worst nightmare coming true, and it soon gets even worse. It seems that Lord Poppy, insane and temperamental as he is, is nothing compared to Lord Iris, the Fae lord in charge of William’s (and now Cathy’s) family. Escape becomes even more unlikely, and Cathy’s situation even more dangerous.

Cathy now has to deal with the expectations of two powerful and manipulative Fae lords, as Lord Poppy has certainly not forgotten the painting and the Iris secret he’s demanded from her, and now Lord Iris has his own expectations too. I found the sinister interactions with the Fae even better than in the first book (have I mentioned how much I love evil Fae?), and, perhaps a bit worryingly, or perhaps in contrast to Lord Iris, I’m becoming really fond of Lord Poppy! He’s such a wonderful character, and has some fantastic lines.

In the first book I liked that Cathy didn’t give in on what she wanted. She argued, she fought, and she plotted, and she continues to do so in this book. Again, she doesn’t give Will an easy pass; he might be trying, but he’s really doing so for the wrong reasons. Cathy also faces up to her father a little more, and the two actually come slightly closer to understanding each other. It’s tragic that her father seems so intent on maintaining the status quo of their society, given his own history. The characters and their reactions all felt very believable to me, and the book doesn’t really pull punches or offer easy solutions. The patriarchy of the Nether society hurts everyone caught up in it, including Will, and yet so many seem determined to simply accept it.

However, there are also plenty who are unhappy, and who would perhaps fight for change if they felt they had allies. One of the best moments in the book is a scene in which Lucy makes Cathy realise that she is not as alone as she thinks. She is not the special, different girl who wants more independence; she is only one of many. This is where Cathy finally manages to stop looking down on the other women of Nether society, and begins to think about how she can try to change things. I liked how Cathy was able to see and admit her mistake in this, and that she immediately began to think about helping others.

Will, on the other hand, gave me some trouble in this book. I really want to like Will, but he seems far too eager to see himself as the victim simply because Cathy is ‘being awkward’. I think he’s learning, painfully slowly, but then... well, I don’t want to give away any spoilers but, let’s just say he really pushes into sinister territory here. And then it becomes clear that Will actually is a victim too, in a similar way, and despite the slightly disturbing poetic justice of this, I do feel sorry for him. And now he’s dealing with some heavy duty Nether society politics, and he really is a little too naive for all this. There are plots weaving around him, and he’s just as much the pawn of the Fae as Cathy. I’m definitely curious to see where the third book will take him after the dramatic events at the end of this book.

The storyline with the arbiter and the gargoyle, the wizards, and the mystery surrounding the destruction of the chapter continues in this book, though it is really Cathy and Will who are centre stage. This was a bit of a shame, as I really love the arbiter and the gargoyle, and am dying to know what’s going on behind the scenes here and how it all connects to the Fae and the Rosas. I love Sam and enjoyed seeing him become a bigger character, and am really intrigued by the introduction of Lord Iron. Just as with Cathy and Will, things are becoming more sinister on this front too; in fact, the second book is darker all round. The ending wraps up some things but leaves some pretty big cliffhangers, and I can’t wait for the next book!

Any Other Name is as exciting and entertaining as the first book, exploring the characters more deeply and plunging them into even more danger and scheming. I love this world and these characters, and can’t wait to return to it to find out what happens next!

Thank you to Angry Robot and NetGalley for providing a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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