It is far safer to admire the forest from a distance. If you get too close, it might claim you. This was the initial feeling when I stepped into kingdom of Aloriya. Cerys, an 18 year old young woman, introduces us to the world around her as the royal gardener’s daughter. You immediately learn about the magical royal family that inherits the power of fire and that they are the only ones who can wear the royal crown. A crown which was given to them 300 years ago from the Lady of the Wood with a very important agreement attached to it.
The surrounding woods of Aloriya are haunted with secrets and unknown dangers, so everyone stays far away from them. But a chance afternoon many years ago has Cerys, the prince and princess and their guard Seren drawn into the woods where everything has been set in motion. With the prince now missing and presumed dead, the king dead and only the princess Wen at a ripe 18 years old to take the crown, a coronation brings about a huge set of events that take Cerys and her fox, a little troublesome guy that has been with Cerys for years, on a journey to save the kingdom.
“We’ll find a way. I’m with you, Daisy. To the very end. I go wherever you go, because when I’m with you, I forget I don’t want to be human.”Among the Beasts & Briars, Ashley Poston
One of the aspects that really drew me into this story was the interaction with the fox. Cerys originally met the fox a few years back when his paw was stuck in a trap and she helped him escape. Ever since then, he is always following her around and being a little bit of a trouble maker. As she embarks on a dangerous journey, he is her constant companion. The fox is by far one of my favorite characters, but you’ll have to read the story to really understand why his role is as important as it is.
“I needed some space to clear my head. I needed to forget his fingers twining into my hair, how warm he felt against me, how he smelled like lavender and sandalwood – and most of all, I needed to remember that whatever I felt, it wouldn’t last.”Among the Beasts & Briars, Ashley Poston
You’ll love how easily you can get swept up into this world that Poston creates and enjoy every little aspect about it. There is a significant emphasis on nature and Cerys carries a curse within her from the woods where she can grow plants, in a very symbiotic kind of way. The power just kind of lives inside of her. I was easily lost in the story because of these whimsical elements and how attuned Cerys is with her surroundings.
The kingdom of Aloriya and surrounding kingdoms that are introduced, as well as seen on the map, allude to a much wider aspect of the world building that Poston may go in to with subsequent books. I know I for one would enjoy revisiting Voryn or any of the other kingdoms we learn about.
I almost forgot to mention it, but Poston also does a great job at including all sorts of LGBTQ+ elements where people in these societies love whoever they love and there is no judgement or cynicism from any of the characters points of view. This was a refreshing take on relationships, because usually there is some kind of forced emphasis – whether it be against or acceptance of – that was just as normal as everything else in their lives. This made it seem completely natural and comfortable which I haven’t come across it written in such a way before. It was a very unique quality of her writing and done in such a way that I really enjoyed it.
A huge thanks to Harper Collins for providing me a copy of this to review! All thoughts are mine alone.
About Ashley Poston
Ashley Poston loves dread pirates, moving castles, and starry night skies. When not lost in a book, she’s lost in real life, searching for her next great adventure. She is the author of Geekerella and the science fantasy Heart of iron.
Tweet her at @ashposton and find out more about her at http://www.ashposton.com.
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