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REVIEW: The Names they Gave Us, Any Way the Wind Blows and Among the Beasts and Briars

Among Beasts and Briars:

Among Beasts and Briars follows Cerys, the royal gardener's daughter. Having grown up around the palace, she is very close to the young royals that will one day rule the country of Aloriya. When she was a young girl, she went into the forbidden forest with Anwen, her best friend and princess of the realm, Lorne, the young princeling, and their watcher, Seren. Wanting to explore and be mischievous they all went in but only two of them came out alive. That is Cerys and Anwen. Cerys even lost her mother to the cursed woods because she went in after them. Cerys regrets this decision so much because maybe if she hadn’t been in Anwen’s life, maybe she would have her brother instead of her.

Now is the day of Anwen’s coronation to take over the crown and both of the friends meet up in secret along with her animal sidekick, Fox. Anwen will wear the crown that will protect the kingdom of Aloriya from the dangers of the cursed forest and the wilds which is a mighty big promise. The crown has magical properties given from the Lady of the Wilds to protect the kingdom from the wilds many moons ago.

When the coronation is put into chaos by these magical creatures called the wood cursed, it is revealed that they want the crown for their master. Cerys must run with the crown into the wildwoods with her companion Fox in order to find the lost city of Voryn that will hopefully help them against these beings in the hopes of saving the Kingdom.

Fox is a wonderful companion in this book and due to spoilers, I will not reveal any more about how he comes to be linked with Cerys. This book provides a mystical, dark and gloomy background of the wildwoods and that’s one that I did enjoy personally. Throughout the book, you are given descriptive language that provides for the sometimes subtle sometimes not undertones of the wilds and truly how dangerous they can be.

4 out of 5 stars.

The Names They Gave Us:

The Names They Gave us is a Young adult contemporary written by Emery Lord. Our main character is Lucy whose life is pretty much perfect in every way possible but her mum having cancer. Her mum’s cancer has come back and Lucy feels it is a betrayal in every single way possible. She’s been good all of her life, she prays every day and she has a good relationship with her parents. So this girl is just thinking, why me? Why my mum? Over and over again. At her mum’s request, she goes to a summer camp called Daybreak. Daybreak is a camp for kids dealing with trauma, and she will be one of the camp counsellors. Along the way, she makes new friends that have also gone through a lot and she realises that you have to make some memories along the way and just be a kid every now and then.

This book definitely has some trigger warnings which include Cancer, loss, transphobia and many more. So please go into this and consider your own mental health before reading. This book is well written and delivered with sensitivity around the different subjects. Emery Lord delivers a complex story that will convey many different emotions to different readers.

Overall, 4 out 5 stars.

Any Way the Wind Blows:

Any Way the Wind Blows is the third and final book in the Simon Snow series which follows our titular character Simon Snow and his friends Baz Pitch, Penelope Bunce and Agatha Wellbelove. Simon Snow is no longer the chosen one after the events of the first book, and so the second book in the series, sees the gang head to America in order to see Agatha who is there for the summer. Now, after the chaos of the second book, Wayward Son, Any Way the wind blows follows the blow back of the second book which results in Simon questioning himself about who he is and who he thought he would be. An American that we meet in the second book, Shepard comes back to England in the hopes that Penelope and her family can help release him from a curse that was self-inflicted by him summoning a demon in his mission to know more about the magical world.

Meanwhile, our new character Smith-Richards enters the picture proclaiming to be the new chosen one, who can heal people’s magic. This means people that have little to no magic can get a boost from him but not everything is what it seems with him and so the gang go searching for some skeletons in the closet, and they find them. But they must expose the imposter before time runs out for many people.

This book being the last in the series was very hyped up from its announcement. I thought this was a spectacular ending to this series but it does leave you wondering that there might be more to explore in this world. It might not be from Simon’s point of view but it could follow other characters within the world. I truly hope Rainbow Rowell does this. However, I will admit, I borrowed this from a friend, due to the problematic nature of Rainbow Rowell’s writing in the past. I do think that she has grown from that but unfortunately, I won’t be giving her any more money because of this. If you want to know more about this situation, please find sources either on twitter or google but basically in the past, she wrote some things that could be borderline racist and I’m not for that. But overall an excellent book.

4 out of 5 stars.


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