folklore but make it fantasy: Among the Beasts & Briars by Ashley Poston Blog Tour review + giveaway

The blog tour banner for Among the Beasts & Briars. The banner is off-white with the book's cover on the left side. On the right side is the text Tour Banner in big red letters. Below says Among the Beasts and Briars by Ashley Poston in a medium-sized purple font. Below is October 20-24 in smaller red letters.

 Hi, friends! I know it's been a little while, but *gestures to world* there's a lot going on out there, and sometimes it's hard to find the mental space to write and blog. I have struggled this year. But that's why I'm especially excited to participate in the blog tour for Among the Beasts & Briars. I preordered this book back in March because I knew I'd need it during this frustrating and difficult year, and this book DID NOT DISAPPOINT. Scroll down to read my 5 star review and some of my favorite quotes from the book. Don't forget to enter my giveaway for a finished copy!


The book cover for Among the Beasts & Briars. The cover is off white with textured pictures surround the font in gold. There are three purple ravens made of purple flower petals, a pinkish red crown made of roses and lilies, and twisting branches with green leaves. At the very top is the tagline "The forest took everything from her. Now it's her only hope." Below the title is a stump with twisting roots and a red and white fox.
Rating: 5 stars
Release Date: October 20, 2020
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre: young adult fantasy
Format/Source: ARC, from the publisher
Status: standalone?
Links: Geekerella review (also 5 stars)

Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book before voluntarily joining the blog tour, which does not affect the content of my review. The tour was organized & hosted by The Book Terminal, and the full tour schedule can be found HERE. Please go give my fellow tour hosts some love!


Summary:
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.


Review:
I am so freakin' impressed by Ashley Poston. Let me start there. A lot of authors get comfortable in one genre, maybe two, establish a brand, and then crank out novels that fit that brand. This is NOT a bad thing because 1. established brands are great advertising, and 2. these people become masters of those genres and those kinds of stories. Examples would be Amie Kaufman in sci-fi, Morgan Matson & Becky Albertalli & Jenny Han in contemporary romance, Laini Taylor & Leigh Bardugo in fantasy. And then there's Ashley Poston doing something different with every novel or series. She's done contemp romance with fangirl flavor and fairy tale retelling plots, she's done sci-fi, now she's doing warm, cozy (yet creepy) fantasy. I think her ability to switch gears and publish multiple books per year in different genres is splendid. Especially because her three genres so far are my favorites so these books feel catered to my interests, and I'm reaping all the benefits as a reader. YAY! And yet, let me assure you that even while switching to a new genre, Among the Beasts & Briars is very much an Ashley Poston™ story that fits within the Ashley Poston™ brand.

The first thing that really struck me while I read Among the Beasts & Briars was the lush, bright writing with lyrical, heady imagery. I love me some contemporary romance, but because it's in our world, a lot of the descriptions just seem.... normal, commonplace, everyday. In AtB&B, Ash's writing muscles have stretched like a cat in sunshine. Her words flow like honey, like a stream dappled in sunlight, like warm wine. Fall is here, and this book is COZY AS HECK, Y'ALL. I love a story that can invoke all senses, and AtB&B does this with flying colors. I want to feel Vala's silvery fur and the ripple of a cool forest river; I want to bury my face in the flowers of Cerys and her father's garden and inhale their sweet scents. I want to feast on wedding treats with Fox, to nibble on forbidden meat pies and croissants, to listen to the hum of magic, to see the tall towers of Voryn. I even want to feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand up as a forest grows quiet when ancient evil stalks through swirling fog. I WANT IT ALL.

That's another reason Among the Beasts & Briars is a perfect fall read: yes, it's about two derpy kids snarking at one another as they wander through a forest with their magical bear babysitter (Vala would be very upset at me for calling her a babysitter. She is a majestic queen of the wood, and I love her deeply, but also she's like a nanny to these two silly teenagers who need to Save the World but are also trying—and failing—to not flirt every two seconds). But this story is also eerie and chilling, perfect for spooky season. Eventually night falls, and the forest loses its dappled golden light. There's mystical, creeping fog; terrifying monsters who crave flesh and bone and blood; and haunting, invisible trauma deeply rooted in every character.

The horrors aren't all on the outside, and I love the exploration Ash embarks upon to show not just evil murderous monsters but also the insidious evils and weaknesses that lurk inside her characters. These characters are imperfect and raw. Fox is a coward. Cerys makes poor decisions. They both suppress as much of the foundational traumas from their past as they can. And I love them both and want to just give them hugs and also a meat pie and a cozy blanket or twelve.

I think at this point everyone knows Ashley Poston is one of my favorite authors. Heaven knows I've shouted about Geekerella and Once Upon a Con enough. I'm always going to order her books. I'm just very grateful to past!Mary for ordering this book all the way back in March because it was exactly what I needed right now. It was a cozy and spooky fantasy with fall vibes. This book feels like sipping a caramel apple spice while brightly colored leaves swirl around your in a crisp breeze while the sun, still-summer warm, shines from a clear blue sky. This book feels like cuddling up under a flannel blanket in a window seat while wearing fuzzy socks and your warmest oversized cardigan while a fall thunderstorm beats against the glass. If you like Taylor Swift, this book is like folklore but make it *jazz hands* fantasy.

2020 has pummeled us all. It has raked us, body mind and soul, with gnarled bone claws. It has sunk its sharp razor teeth into our hopes, our dreams, our present, our future. It has planted the malevolent seeds of trauma and terror deep within us. It has exposed monsters among our midst. I felt so deeply for Cerys and Fox because I feel like someone running from monsters, trying to find a safe place in a magical-yet-kinda-haunted wood where someone will lift the curse that plagues my home and attacks my loved ones. I feel like wanting to hide from monsters, to curl up in a small unnoticed spot where they can't find me, to slink away from the fight. But one of the best quotes in this entire book is this: "She doesn't need a hero. She needs people who believe that she can be the hero" (ARC, pages 293-294). In a time like 2020, we won't be saved by a hero, striding confidently through the fog to battle evil for us. It's up to us to fight.

I'm so grateful for this book for reminding me of this, for making me feel like it is possible to... maybe not overcome trauma, exactly, but to use it to change into someone new who can handle it and keep going anyway. I'm also grateful for this book for bringing those cozy, comforting vibes because when everything feels like too much, it's also nice to fall into a brand new fairy tale and escape for a few pleasant hours filled with fantasy, magic, and a preposterous fox friend who loves a good meat pie.

Favorite Quotes:
I'm so sorry that I'm not graphically talented and can't really do quote graphics, but here are some of my favorites from this book.

I couldn't imagine living in this body until I died. I didn't have a tail. It was a tragedy. - ARC page 87

"Oh, you'll make a fine hat," she threatened. "I'll wear it every day—even in summer."
"You're kidding," I scoffed. "I'd make a better muffler, and you know it." - ARC, page 107

"I'd say we should start by going and finding some actual food."
"what, you didn't have your fill of the vegetable surprise?"
"Daisy, it tastes like old shoes."
"I've seen you chew on an old shoe, so I believe you." - ARC, page 211

(This book is FUNNY, you guys! A+ banter!)

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 of it. - ARC, page 231

This was fleeting. This was not permanent. Like a match flaring in the dark, this was only a flash, here and soon gone. I wanted to hang on to it. This feeling. He was a fox, and I was a gardener's daughter, and there were no stories for enchantments such as we. - ARC, page 231


Purchase Links:
   


Tour Schedule:
10/19 
What She Will Read - Introduction

10/20
Basement Bookcase - Review / Fav Quotes
Polish & Paperbacks - Review / Nail Art

10/21
Mary Had a Little Book Blog - Review / Fav Quotes
The Elven Warrior - Mood Board
Rajiv's Reviews - Review

10/22
Rattle the Stars - Review / Mood Board
Belle's Archive - Review / Fav Quotes
The Writer's Alley - Review / Playlist

10/23
The Bursting Bookshelf - Review
Books in the Skye - Review / Fav Quotes

10/24
Ashleigh's Bookshelf - Review
Rin's Reads - Review / Dreamcast

About the Author:
Ashley Poston's author photo. She is a pale, white woman with red hair that swoops over one eye. She is smiling and wearing a black sleeveless shirt.
Ashley Poston loves dread pirates, moving castles, and starry night skies.

She graduated from the University of South Carolina with a BA in English, and went on to work at both Kodansha USA and Bloomsbury Publishing. But the dazzling bright lights of New York City couldn’t keep her away from old country roads, so she moved back home to pursue a full-time writing career.

Her books have been on the Indie Next List multiple times, and have been featured in Teen Vogue, Seventeen, Entertainment Weekly, Hypable, and Buzzfeed, among others. She has also been a Goodreads Choice Finalist in 2017 for Geekerella, and a semi-finalist for The Princess and the Fangirl in 2019. She also has a critically-acclaimed space opera series, the Heart of Iron duology, which was named on 2019’s Rainbow List.

When not writing, she can be found playing Dungeons and Dragons and writing fanfic. She lives in South Carolina with her bossy cat, and they are firm believers that we’re all a bunch of weirdos looking at other weirdos, asking for their username.

Author Links:
icon indicating website - a light blue square with the continents in darker blue Goodreads icon - a small tan square with a brown lowercase g Twitter logo icon - a bright blue square with a white bird instagram icon - a tan square with a brown top and a black circle in the middle to look like a camera 

Giveaway: 
One winner will receive a hardcover of Among the Beasts & Briars. Open to any country where Book Depository can deliver. Entrants must be 13+ with parents' permission. Giveaway is open until 12 AM CDT November 1. Please enter via Rafflecopter below; winner will be chosen at random, and odds are determined by number of entries. I reserve the right to disqualify any entries that are not in accordance with my giveaway policies as stated in the Review & Site Policies tab at the top of the page. Good luck! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

10 comments:

  1. I can't wait to read this! And that cover...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Favorite fairy tale is Rapunzel. Favorite season is summer. Favorite place to read is under my purple fairy lights.

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  3. Favorite fairy tale is Little mermaid.

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  4. Pretty book that sounds like a good read too

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  5. Ooh I keep seeing this book and this has made me want to read it more! My favourite fairytale is Rapunzel (although I also always loved The Elves and the Shoemaker!). Autumn is my favourite season and I love reading curled up in a comfy chair😊

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  6. This is generic but Beauty and the Beast will always be my fave fairytale!

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