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.
I buddy read this with Leah over at Leahs Books and it was the perfect fast and fun read that we both needed! All is safe in the kingdom of Aloriya thanks to the magic crown given to the rulers generations ago from the Lady who ruled the forest. With only one recorded incident in her lifetime, when the Prince, his guard and Cery’s mother were all lost to the wood, Cerys knows the danger that lurks behind the trees, especially since her brief time there left her cursed with a strange magic. As the Princess and her best friend, Wen, is about to be crowned, creatures from the wood descend on the kingdom, turning everyone Cerys loves into monsters and forcing her on the run into the one place she never wanted to return, but for her friends and family, she will do almost anything. Armed only with her strange magic and two animal companions, Cerys must traverse the wood and try and find the Lady whose magic should be able to save her home. But the wood is more dangerous than she thought, and not everything there is exactly what it seems. Cerys will have to rely on herself more than ever if she is to make it through the forest and save her Kingdom.
If you know me, then you know that I love a good character driven novel and Among the Beasts and Briars certainly hit that mark for me. Cerys is such a great POV to read from. She is constantly underestimating herself, being the lowly daughter of a gardener, and growing up friends with a Princess has certainly shown her where she fits in the world, and her magic doesn’t exactly help her to fit it. But when she gets into the forest and has to rely on herself to save those she loves, she blooms as a character. She goes from shy and meek to determined and brave and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing her on this journey. As well Cerys we get the POV of the fox, which sounds weird, but will totally make sense when you read the book. His POV added a certain levity to the story, as well as giving us plenty of hints as to the past as well as the future.
You know when you just need a quick and easy book, with plenty of stakes, but you know there’s a high likelihood of a happy ending… well this book was that and so much more. At just over 350 pages Among the Beasts and Briars is certainly a quick read, but Poston makes sure that she never skimps on character growth or world building. There was just enough of everything to ensure you stay invested in the story and fall in love with the characters she creates. Her use of foreshadowing and plot twists make sure this already speedy story absolutely fly’s by and, although I did guess at one of the big twists, there were still plenty that left me hanging until the very end.
The romance arc through this book was sweet and fun but also bloody hilarious. Seeing our love interest absolutely flounder at any opportunity to flatter Cerys had me cackling in parts, and I just loved seeing them come to the realisation that they like each other. I can’t really talk too much about it without giving away major spoilers, but suffice to say some of my favourite scenes where of these two together, especially when the bear companion was also involved. This is by far the main relationship in the book, but I did enjoy how the author still managed to develop the other relationships Cerys had, even with such a small page count.
Among the Beasts and Briars is the perfect book is you’re looking for a quick and fun read that doesn’t skimp on anything. This isn’t my first book by the author, but it is my first fantasy and I’m excited to pick up what else she has written in the genre.