I’ve proselytised about my enduring love for Emma Newman’s writing and especially her Split Worlds series all over the internet, but indulge me once more, because I have news and for fans of the Split Worlds it is the best sort of news! The Split Worlds series has been picked up for re-release by Diversion Books and they’ll be publishing the fourth book, A Little Knowledge this August. How awesome is that? I’m so excited and I can’t wait to return to some of my favourite characters and to the wondrous world of The Nether. Also, Diversion Books gave the books some gorgeous new covers.
You can check out my reviews of the first three books, Between Two Thorns, Any Other Name, and All is Fair to catch my in-depth burbling about these books. For now though, let me give you six reasons you need to check out this series ASAP.
Cathy is indubitably the main character of this series. And she is amazing. Originally hailing from the world of the Nether, she fled to our world, which she knows as Mundanus, to get away from the stifling society that is the Nether, which is still stuck in Regency times and world views. This means that women’s rights are mostly non-existent, that their options to choose their own path in life are extremely limited, and any woman that doesn’t conform to society’s expectations can expect its censure. Cathy is a feminist and she has no truck with these practices whatsoever, hence her flight to Mundanus. Inevitably, she is dragged back to the Nether and into its family politicking through an arranged marriage. It is horrid and unfair, but I loved how Cathy carries herself and how she tries to change the Nether from the inside out. Cathy is head strong, funny, assured of her cause, but not of herself, and very much a young woman claiming her place in the world on her terms. Not to mention that she is also the Lizzie Bennett to Will’s Darcy. Which brings us to the second reason:
2. The good ship “Cathy and Will”
In the first book I was still somewhat taken with the possible pairing of Cathy and Sam, but with Any Other Name I resolutely embarked on the good ship “Cathy and Will”. I loved this reluctant romantic pair. Neither of them were looking to get married, especially not to each other, but it is the situation they find themselves in and they try to make it work. This will they/won’t they-romance had a definite Austen-esque feel, complete with lots of mutual misunderstandings, well-meaning interference and even a (sort-of) villain ready to make off with the groom. By the end of All is Fair they have reached a good place, but they are only at the beginning of their story and I can’t wait to see where they’ll go next, especially given the fact that the capricious Fae might upset their balance at any moment.
3. The Fae
These lords and ladies, called the Fae are and aren’t like the fairies we know. All connected to a particular flower, from which the Houses that serve them take their name, they are more like the Tuatha Dé Danann of Irish myth than Tinkerbell. They are the Patroons of the Nether families and their word — and whim — is gospel. I loved Newman’s take on the Fae, who are awesome in all senses of the word.
Nether Society and the Fae are only part of the magical side of the Split Worlds, there is another important faction, charged with keeping the powerful Fae in check and keeping them from messing the humans of Mundanus about too much. They are called the Arbiters and they are set apart. One of the ways this is accomplished is by trapping their soul in a flask that is housed in their Chapterhouse, allowing to report back to their Abbott. When something goes wrong with Max as he is mid-communication with his leader, his soul becomes trapped in a Gargoyle, who becomes his partner and aide. Together they try to figure out what happened and who was behind it. Gargoyle stole every scene he was in and was hands-down my favourite in the entire series. I even got to interview him here on the blog.
Oh Sam, sometimes I just want to shake him and say “What were you thinking?!” But regardless, Sam is lovely. The everyman who leads the reader into the Nether and allows us to feel the wonder of the place, not just the annoyance that Cathy feels at its old-fashionedness and backwardness, Sam is just a normal guy. He’s the unlikely hero, the one who doesn’t even believe himself capable of bravery. Yet here we are… Sam’s development throughout the series is great and his discovery of another supernatural court adds a very cool dimension to the story.
6. Emma Newman’s writing
I love Newman’s voice. Her writing is the perfect blend of Regency tone and modern day vocabulary and she infuse the narrative with a distinct sense of humour. But though overall the tone is light, The Split Worlds contains some heavy themes, such as identity, feminism, agency, grief, and loyalty. But most of all, Newman’s writing makes me feel like sinking into a warm bath; reading about the Split Worlds just makes me happy and content, which makes it the perfect set of comfort reads.
And that are six reasons why you should be reading The Split Worlds. Now, if you feel as if you NEED to read these books — and you should — then I’ve some good news. You can enter the giveaway for an ebook version of Book 1, Between Two Thorns, below. And you can check out over 50 Split Worlds short stories of on The Split Worlds website. You can find Emma online at her website and on Twitter at @emapocalytic.