Title: Any Other Name
(The Split Worlds – Book Two)
Author: Emma Newman
Genre: Urban(ish) Fantasy
Pages: 339
Rating: 2.5 of 5

You can find my review of the first book in this series here. This book follows the continuing struggles of Catherine Rhoeas-Papaver as she is forced back into the social maneuvering and political intrigues of the regency era-esque “fae-touched society” that operates parallel to our own.

I really wanted to like this book, but was bored through much of it. The main plot points were certainly interesting but there are pages and pages of moping, acting bewildered, agonizing, soul-searching, schmoozing, and philandering that occur between things that actually move the plot forward. I don’t necessarily mind slow character-driven “social maneuvering” kind of books (I like Dickens and some Austen). However, for me to enjoy that kind of book, I require well-rounded characters and/or sparkling wit, and most of the characters in this book are rather one-note and no one is witty. In spite of the clever worldbuilding, this just isn’t my kind of book.

Additionally, even more than in the first book, there is very little plot resolution here. The rush of events that happens in the last 30 or so pages seems calculated to set up a cliffhanger so that you’ll go out and read the next book. I hate the feeling that an author is just stringing me along so they can sell more books, and probably won’t be reading any further in this series.

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14 thoughts on “Snail’s-pace Fantasy

  1. Uh oh, if books I & II are already running out of plot fodder, that doesn’t bode well for the rest of this so-far-five-book series 😂 Sounds like the series might be best for readers who just can’t get enough of Regency. Thanks for the helpful review! If I try this one out, I’ll keep your reviews in mind…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! Good observation on a good target audience. It actually reminds me a lot of Christian “historical fiction” novels where at least half of the page count is morbid introspection (just set in different time periods so people can get their bonnet or ballgown fix).

      The plot that she does have is actually terrific and I’m almost tempted to keep reading to see where it goes, but I just don’t think I can wade through any more filler.

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      1. Gah, yeah, I almost never read Christian Fiction lol. I’ve always been suspicious about finding a predetermined message delivered in new wrapping paper…that’s totally an unfounded opinion, though, since I’m completely unfamiliar with the genre besides the obviously awesome classics. It doesn’t seem like there’s a huge selection of modern “Christian” SFF??

        Oh, I see! The shallow characters of The Split World pose more of a problem than the plot, as their social maneuvering fills up the space between real plot points. (Sorry, just reread your review and saw that I misunderstood!) Yeah, it’s tough to go from Dickens’ and Austen’s characters to anyone else’s…too bad because the “mirror city” setting sounds super cool!

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      2. I have a friend who is a historian and author and he was more or less required to include some vapid romance in his otherwise good debut novel to sell it to the “Christian” market. I have noticed some increasing diversity of genre in the fiction that Christian publishing companies are putting out, but with a few exceptions I think the quality remains low and the writing preachy.

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      3. I’m glad to hear that things are improving, although not too surprised to hear about the problem your friend encountered 😦 I studied English and creative writing at a Christian university and spend lots of time with church family, and the average Christian’s thoughts on “genre fiction” are underdeveloped at best. For example: that it’s a waste of time (“Might as well be watching tv!”), that characters shouldn’t swear because swearing is sinful (I mean, it depends on your purpose and audience. If we’re trying to understand or portray human fallen nature, swearing may be necessary. It doesn’t have to be gratuitous, but we can’t really expect unbelievers to care about Christian “rules” like that) and MOST important that books absolutely should NEVER have anything related to “magic” in them (no matter what may fall under that term “magic”) because the Bible forbids us from taking part in witchcraft LOL Oy…

        Unfortunately, these kinds of parameters make for really boring, uninspired fiction…

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Yes! I have definitely encountered all those things as well. I think there is also a tendency toward pat answers and tying things up in a nice little bow that sucks a lot of the realism out of the messy/broken reality that we deal with as human beings.

        I’m not sure if the slight uptick of Christian genre fiction means any great increase in quality, but I suppose we can hope that it will take things in that direction. What would be even better is if more Christian authors just wrote with sufficient quality to be published at regular publishing houses and wrote fiction that reflect their Christian worldview without being just a disguised sermon.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Gah, sorry about writing whole books here in the comments section! lol. Agreed. They want to have an answer for people who ask (heart is in the right place), but they often just haven’t thought the subject all the way through. I get that, I mean, it’s complicated! But sometimes, it’s better to just say, “I don’t really know” and defer to someone who does know. Yes, your last paragraph is EXACTLY what my goal is!! I’m hoping to eventually sell to a mainstream publisher. They are the gatekeepers to the secular reading public. We’ll see if it ever works out! 😅

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I am on book three of this series, and I still need to read the fourth before the upcoming fifth, which I think is going to be the last one. For what it’s worth, the plot improves, but I agree with you on its “snail’s pace” – I think this series would work better if each book had some sort of resolution, because as it its, it does give off the sense of “stringing the reader along”. Right now it reads more like a gigantic novel split into five parts.

    Liked by 1 person

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