Any Other Name by Emma Newman (#2 The Split Worlds)
Any Other Name is the second book in Emma Newman’s Split World series which brings to us the separate worlds of the Fae Lords (Exilium) and the modern day (Mundanus) – split by the Nether world where aristocratic families, rivals for power and position, still live in a world in a bubble or timewarp. A world where the people, fae touched, barely age. They hold to old traditions and are not affected by the modern world to which they are anchored.
In the first instalment we are introduced to a number of characters and storylines. Cathy, who ran away from the Nether and hid for a while in Mundanus. Cathy was eventually returned to her family and forced into an arranged marriage, with Will, against her wishes. Will is one of those characters that takes one step forward and then slides two gigantic strides back. He makes a few gestures in the right direction but his impatience then gets the better of him usually followed my several major gaffs. There’s a reason for sayings such as ‘fools rush in…’ and Will is one of those reasons! We also met Sam, a regular mundane chap, who through a fluke of fate became involved with the fae, beholden to Lord Poppy and involved in the world of the Arbiters at the same time that his marriage is falling apart. The Arbiters are like the regulators keeping the rules that exist between the Nether World and Mundanus from being broken. Unfortunately the world of the Arbiters is under threat and one of the Arbiters called Max and a gargoyle, that currently houses his soul, are investigating a number of disturbing deaths and apparent corruption. Finally, we have The Agency. The Agency is there to serve the Nether world – they basically meet whatever requirements the aristocracy have in terms of staff, houses and other such needs, they also seem to act as a clean up between the world of the Nether and Mundanus covering over any potential tracks between the two.
When I actually came to write up this review it made me realise how many different threads are really going on in this story. Complicated yet further by the conclusion of this book with the Elemental Court also being thrown into the mix. So, quite a lot of plot lines and quite a lot of characters to come to grips with. This instalment sees Cathy coming to a resolution about the Nether world that gives her a new purpose. Will makes a rather rash challenge. The Arbiter thread takes on a new level of threat and Sam agrees to an alliance with the Elemental Court that could be a little ill advised.
I enjoy Emma Newman’s writing, I think she does a very good job of laying a calm facade over what could potentially become a chaotic story. She also has the ability to really stir your emotions in terms of her characters. Certainly she makes your blood boil with frustration at the actions of some of them.
In terms of criticisms, the plot has a slow, slightly meandering feel to it at times and some of the threads introduced, which seem so significant at the time, almost disappear into oblivion.
That being said I find myself hooked to the series and looking forward to the next book All is Fair. Lets just see what happens next!
I received a copy of Any Other Name courtesy of the publisher for which my thanks. The above is my own opinion.
I am reading this series as part of a readalong with a number of other bloggers. The details of the readalong for the third book can be found here. If you’re interested in joining in with book No.3 then shout out or call over to the SFF readalong page over on Goodreads.