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Publisher's Summary

Ashley Poston, acclaimed author of Heart of Iron, returns with a dark, lush fairy-tale-inspired fantasy for fans of Sara Raasch and Susan Dennard.

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.

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 a small and irritating fox from the royal garden 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. 

©2020 Ashley Poston (P)2020 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about Among the Beasts & Briars

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Erica Paulk
  • 2020-11-10

whimsical cheek burning fun romance with magic

4.5 star

This whimsical fairytale caught me by surprise. Although a little predictable at times the wholesome happiness of the book made up for it. We follow are main character Cery a gardeners daughter with magic in her blood. And at her best friends coronation the curse comes for them and changes everything.

The writing to me really was well done and easy to read. I loved all the beautiful names and how well they flowed with the story. Also the romance, so fresh and sweet it made my cheeks burn with all the feels. The banter, the characters I fell in love with it all. For me there could have been a little more atmosphere and world building though.

All the characters complemented each other. Fox with a mischief twinkle in his eye. Casy and her adventurous soul. Even the bear with her exasperated glares. Or that's what I pictures atleast. Altogether the atmosphere of their relationship felt so organic. Almost as if they had always known one another. I fell for them completely. Especially their snarky banter and inside jokes which made for a fun wholesome read.

"But here I was dancing with a boy who was handsome in a way only wild things could be, as if he wanted to be bigger than his skin instead of wanting to fit inside it."

Hope Newhouse and Andrew Eiden did a great job narrating. Really brought the characters to life and made the story fun to listen too. Fox's attitude was quite interesting to me. You rarely find a main character who cowers and hides in the face of fear. In a weird way I found it refreshing and sensible. Also romantic dialog is always a sensitive subject for me because there is a fine line between unbearably corny or sweet. This story stayed with the latter. I was giddy with relief. Towards the end I started to wish there was more but in a good way. It wrapped up rather nicely as well but I'll still hold out for a sequel.

2 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Cupcakes
  • 2021-02-18

So your pet turns into a hot boy. Do you kiss him?

Okay, lets be real here.
So you have this pet. You've had them for years. Maybe its your cat. You named the cat. You feed the cat. You talk to the cat. The cat hangs out in your garden. Everyone knows the cat is your pet. He follows you around. You're pretty friendly with this cat.
So your pet cat turns into a hot boy.
Are you going to romantically kiss your pet cat??????????
No. Don't do it. Just don't.

**SPOILERS FROM THIS POINT ON**
I adore the cover of this book, but that's about the only part of it that I truly enjoy. The concept is incredible. Cerys's powers are interesting to read about, as is the history of the forest, the relationships of the townspeople to the forest, past events, and the coronation. However, after the first coronation scene, I just felt like everything dropped off really hard. I didn't find Cerys to be interesting or feel any motivation to care about her. I feel like she was given a father, a friend, a dead mother, and magical powers as checkmarks in her box of personality traits and character depth, but none of these things felt like they were truly woven into the narrative.

The story follows the Hero's Journey. You probably know this format well. First, the backstory, characters, and world are established for you. There is a big event which ends horribly- the hero's call to adventure. Now, the main character must go on a journey. She is presented with a mentor character (in this case the bear) and a helper (in this case, Fox, who is now human). She walks through the woods, and along the way, encounters a few trials (challenges and temptations). Upon arriving at her destination, her worldview is shaken as she discovers the truth, and she undergoes a transformation (the "transformation" in the hero's journey format). Atonement is quite literal in this one, as at the climax of the battle, Cerys helps her kingdom atone for what they have done, and all of the magic is returned to its rightful place in the forest, thereby ending the curse. Cerys returns home having learned a lesson along with everyone else, and they live happily ever after.

This format is tried and true. It is not a BAD format to follow. The issue with following it is that it is so incredibly familiar to us that we can recognize every twist and turn, and also recognize when we're essentially being spoonfed a predictable story. It was obvious who Fox was from the moment he turned human. It was obvious what was going on with the crown. The long walk through the woods, punctuated intermittently with romantic tension, comedic breaks with the mentor bear, and the occasional chase sequence, felt very contrived.

I also found Fox's personality EXTREMELY confusing. It seems like he was intended to be the stereotypical foxlike boy, which I actually love as a character ordinarily- snarky, a little bit cowardly, a jerk with a heart of gold, full of humor a bit at the expense of the main character. But the fact that he was a LITERAL FOX seemed poorly handled. Fox could not figure out how to eat a cooked fish because he had never eaten human food before. A couple of pages later, he jokes about Cerys waking up for her "morning coffee." If he does not know about human food, how does he know about coffee? Fox consistently says things that only a human man would know about- references to gloves, mufflers, coffee, etc- but then reverts to only knowing fox things when its convenient.

I felt like this whole book was a collection of tropes I usually love, performed in a lackluster way. Also, seriously. I don't care if your pet fox is actually your long lost prince childhood friend and crush. He was a fox for a long, long time. You fed him your dinner scraps. Pretty weird to fall in love with him.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Elle
  • 2021-01-13

Not what I was hoping

Let me very clear about one thing: this advertises itself as a dark fantasy, and it’s not dark. Maybe by some people’s standards, but definitely not by mine. All problems resolved themselves within minutes and I had guessed all mysteries within the first third of the book. By the end, I just wanted it to hurry up and finish.

I’ll be clear about another thing, though: this is cute. It’s a quick story that tried really hard. I was hoping for something more like “The Cursed Prince” by Holly Black, but that’s not what this is. There’s a lot of flowery language that I’m sure is supposed to be poetic or whatever. Most of it was ruined by the warbling voice of the female narrator. One star for her acting, four for the guy who could have narrated the whole thing and I’d be happy.

In the end, I finished the book, but not by much.

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  • Zombiecupcake29
  • 2020-12-07

Great book and performances

There wasn't very much about this book that I didn't like. At the beginning there was a lot of information to take in about the creatures and the world and the characters, but I easily got through that. I loved that Cerys grew into her own through the book. She was a strong girl without it being that unbelievable strong that some YA novels tend to portray. And Fox stole my heart from the very second he came into play. He showed fear which is not something often seen in male leads. All in all this was a cute romance/fantasy/fairytale and I loved every single second of it. I hope that in the future Ashley Poston comes out with more books like this one.

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  • Doha
  • 2020-12-06

Expected Something Else

So I think some of my rating is my fault, you see I came to this book expecting a Young Adult fairytale-ish book, what I got was a standard Middle Grade book ..
So the story is about Keris ( written Cerys ) she lives in a land where there is no problems at all because of the enchanted crown that sits on the ruler's head .. and it's been like that for 300 years, until the day of the coronation of the new queen when a curse comes to everyone and the only way to break it is  for Keris to go to the woods and break the curse from the place it was originally made .. with her friend fox and a bear named Vala they will try to find the hidden land of Voryn where it was said that the lady lives there .. how will this journey end ?
I think I would've enjoyed the book more if I was not expecting anything .. the writing was simple but I was not interested in any character and I couldn't care for them for some reason .. I wanted to like this book because I love the author, but I couldn't surprisingly 


both of the narrators were barely performing but they did get the job done I guess