*You may want to read my review for Between Two Thorns if you’re not caught up-nothing here that’s not on the back of the book, but if you’re a stickler for not knowing, look away!
Any Other Name (Split Worlds #2) by Emma Newman (Angry Robot Books, May 2013)-As Any Other Name opens, our mundane friend Sam seeks to help a kidnapped girl that he knows is in Exilium. Yeah, we all know that’s a bad idea, but Sam is Sam, and once he’s on his course, it’s nearly impossible to get him off of it, even when Lord Poppy shows his creepy self and starts making “requests” in return for his dubious help. Meanwhile, Cathy finds herself being dressed for some event, in a drug induced haze, and soon realizes that the event is her own wedding, much sooner than she planned. After discovering the abuse that Cathy suffered at the hand of her father, William pushed to have the wedding date moved up, but even he had no idea that it would be that quickly. If Cathy thinks her escape back to Mundanus will be hard once she’s married, she has no idea. Her new patron, Lord Iris, doesn’t have the same affection for Cathy that Lord Poppy does (in his own twisted way), and it turns out he has a few things up his psychopathic sleeve that will make it very hard for Cathy to stray from her new family. Max and his stone gargoyle sidekick are still investigating the massacre of the other Arbiters, along with Sorcerer Eckstrand and his assistant, Petra, and he finds himself seeking the help of Cathy and Sam. Sam has his own problems, though. His wife has gotten a promotion and hasn’t been herself, and he’s worried that something serious is going on. Of course there’s something going on, and it’s a doozy.
If you enjoyed Between Two Thorns, the first of the series, be prepared to stay up late with Any Other Name. William is being pressured by his family to seek the Dukedom in Londinium, and Cathy is forced into running the day to day of their enormous new estate, a task which she finds a bit less daunting than she first thought. She’s still as determined as ever to make her own way (and just as determined not to enjoy any aspect of this new life), but is finding it harder and harder in the face of William’s patience and kindness. A few words on William: He would rather be married to Amelia Alba-Rosa, who, along with her brother Cornelius, has been under William’s protection since the Rosas were outed for a most heinous indiscretion. Amelia is beautiful and graceful, seemingly everything Cathy isn’t, and William doesn’t hesitate to take her as his mistress. She’s also a conniving you-know-what, but I digress… I go back and forth from liking Will to wanting to smack him hard. He’s desperately trying to make the best of a not so great situation and even Cathy is finding it hard to keep fighting him at every turn. The big problem is, of course, sex. William is under pressure to produce an heir, and to do it quickly. Cathy is loath to sleep with someone she hardly knows. Something has to give, and though the last thing William wants to do is force Cathy, he knows that the consequences otherwise could be disastrous. Their Fae patron Lord Iris is terrifying, and he’s left no wiggle room on how the marriage should function. It’s a terrible situation, to be sure. There’s a lot of progression and growth with Cathy in this one, especially once she starts getting out of her own way a bit and really looking at herself and the situation that she finds herself in. We also get to know Sam quite a bit more, and Max’s gargoyle (who also houses his soul) plays a much bigger part as well, and is a delight. The court intrigue is juicy, the magic by turns terrifying and enchanting, Cathy’s adjustment to Will and life in Londinium is fascinating, and Emma Newman throws some game changers in that will knock your socks off. I am beside myself to read the next installment, All Is Fair (out Sept. 2013). This series just keeps getting better and if you’re looking for superb fantasy and urban fantasy, the Split Worlds is where it’s at. Bravo!