This is the first book by Ashley Poston that I’ve read, so I didn’t have any preconceived ideas of her writing style or her books in general. So when I received this book, I was open and leapt in blindly.
I’m sincerely regretting not reading more of her books.
The synopsis from Goodreads:
Cerys is safe in the kingdom of Aloriya.
Here there are no droughts, disease, or famine, and peace is everlasting. It has been this way for hundreds of years, since the first king made a bargain with the Lady who ruled the forest that borders the kingdom. But as Aloriya prospered, the woods grew dark, cursed, and forbidden. Cerys knows this all too well: when she was young, she barely escaped as the woods killed her friends and her mother. Now Cerys carries a small bit of the curse—the magic—in her blood, a reminder of the day she lost everything. The most danger she faces now, as a gardener’s daughter, is the annoying fox who stalks the royal gardens and won’t leave her alone.
As a new queen is crowned, however, things long hidden in the woods descend on the kingdom itself. Cerys is forced on the run, her only companions the small fox from the garden, a strange and powerful bear, and the magic in her veins. It’s up to her to find the legendary Lady of the Wilds and beg for a way to save her home. But the road is darker and more dangerous than she knows, and as secrets from the past are uncovered amid the teeth and roots of the forest, it’s going to take everything she has just to survive.
A fairytale dream turned dark and deadly, this book takes what our characters think is a blessing and reveals it’s a curse. Cerys is a gardener’s daughter – destined to become the royal gardener herself. But when her best friend, Princess Anwen’s coronation day turns into a nightmare, Cerys becomes her kingdoms only hope. With only a crown, a fox, and a little bit of magic, Cerys is the only hope for this kingdom to survive.
I loved this plot. I am a huge fan of dark, twisted fairytales and this one is so creepy and disturbing. I think one of my favorite “tropes” is the animal to human magical change. Fox, as he is so lovingly named, is a fox who is turned human from the magic of Cerys’ blood. He calls her Daisy, because of the daisy’s in her hair, of course, and I find this duo adorable. Vala, their bear companion who helped them escape the woodcursed citizens turned monsters, remains a bear but one that can communicate to Fox directly.
As they try to find the Lady of the Woods, I try not to fall in love with this trio. Cerys is stupidly brave and Fox is a coward trying to be brave and it’s the best equation. Their “flirting” as Vala calls it, makes me so happy, even during moments of chaos. I love how Ashley takes something so simple and turns it into a moment between Cerys (Daisy) and Fox. She really works their emotions well throughout the book and evidently, makes me fall in love with them too.
Now this book isn’t all rainbows and sunshine. The trio is stuck inside of a cursed wood as they try to find The Lady of the Woods. That and the magical demon hunters trying to steal the crown from them. These monsters, once human, are disturbing to put it simply. They really freaked me out and if I encountered one of them, I would have lost it. Ashley has a way of amplifying her descriptions so I not only feel what the characters are feeling, but I can also see it. And what I was seeing was terrifying!
Based on this book, I’m so excited to read Ashley’s other books! I love the writing, the plot, the characters, and while I’m sad this is a standalone, the ending. If you want a dark fantasy, fairytale with magic, curses, and a little stench of death – this is a perfect read! .5 // 5 stars!
Among the Beasts & Briars by Ashley Poston releases on October 20th, 2020 and I’ve linked my indie bookstore if you’re interested in ordering a copy!
If this books sounds interesting, be sure to check out Lobizona by Romina Garber!
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