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The Foes Between Us – 4 Star Book Review

Welcome to one of the January 11th stops on the blog tour for The Foes Between Us by J.M. Robison, organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Follow the rest of the tour for more reviews and a giveaway! (More on that at the end of this post.)

Please note that this post contains affiliate links, which means there is no additional cost to you if you shop using my links, but I will earn a small percentage in commission. A program-specific disclaimer is at the bottom of this post.

About the Book

The Foes Between Us
The Last Wizard Series Book One
by J.M. Robison

Published 16 May 2018
by Tirgearr Publishing

Genre: Historical Fantasy
Page Count: 241
Add it to your Goodreads TBR!

In 1842 England, Brynn suspects Reuben’s “natural death” had actually been murder because she starts finding cryptic clues and maps Reuben left behind indicating she needs to find Zadicayn, an imprisoned young man claiming to be a wizard from the Middle Ages.

When Brynn frees Zadicayn, her once peaceful life now becomes dangerous when Zadicayn enlists her help to find his magical amulet, but it’s in the possession of Reuben’s murderers, and they’ll kill anyone, even Brynn, to keep it.

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Excerpt

We face each other. The conductor cues us, and we step in close. Too close. I try not to notice. I avert my gaze to look at everyone but this eighteen-year-old with his hand on my lower back. He’s three inches taller. I pray to God my sweetheart neckline isn’t as low as it feels.

The music begins, and we sweep into a spin. He sucks me in closer to complete the move. I’ve somehow lost all my muscles, left only with bones for how I clunk around without grace as he spins again. By the third leisure spin, I loosen up, noticing with halting admiration he does know how to waltz.

We spin again, and I hang my head back. His strides stretch out, and I reach to match; a challenge with my footwear, but he bends with me in such a way as to make the movement effortless. I’m dizzy again. I’m not sure whether to blame my tight corset or the relentless spinning. Both? None?

The song concludes, and something else takes over my body, so I almost fall when Zadicayn loosens his hold on me. I’m reminded to curtsy when he dips into a bow.

My Review

My Rating: 4 Stars
Consider “liking” my review on Goodreads.

Thank you to the author J.M. Robison and Goddess Fish Promotions for complimentary access to The Foes Between Us. I am reviewing this title in conjunction with the blog tour with Goddess Fish Promotions, and I am grateful for the opportunity! This has not swayed my opinion. My thoughts are my own and my review is honest.

The Foes Between Us is mostly set in early 19th Century England, but with an introductory chapter set in 1500s and several callbacks to this time later on in the story. Brynn is unhappy with her restricted lot in life in patriarchal 19th Century society and seeks to be different and strike her own path, but at the same time fears that if she doesn’t conform to society’s expectations she’ll be alone forever. Zadicayn is a teenage wizard from the 1500s. When Brynn frees Zadicayn, a whole lot of murdersome trouble follows.

I loved Brynn as a character in this. I love strong women in historical settings who defy the rules, but I also very much appreciate a character who can step back, see the whole picture, and pick the path that results in the most good rather than the path that feels like it’ll be the most satisfying at the moment, and Brynn does both of these things.

Zadicayn is a very interesting character, and I love learning about how magic works in this version of England through him and his backstory. I particularly enjoyed moments in the first chapter where he chafed against his father’s rules for magic use, like how he thought so long about how he could magically relocate things out of reach rather than get a ladder that he made the task take so much longer than it should have, but he knew he wasn’t supposed to do such a mundane chore magically because magic should only be used for things that can’t be done without it. I was particularly intrigued by the magic amulets wizards in this world wear and the concept that if anyone other than the amulet’s rightful owner touched it with their flesh, it’s sudden death time.

I enjoyed the fact that this book’s plot is full of murder and intrigue and really doesn’t have time for boring moments, yet there also isn’t a lot of time spent describing violence in great detail or making room for heavily detailed erotic scenes. There are murders, but the book isn’t gory. There are relationships and desires, but the book isn’t even steamy let alone sexually explicit. It’s a historical fantasy to the core written for a broad, general audience. I wouldn’t try to put an age restriction on this book; anyone at an adult reading level should be fine with the content. I don’t think it merits any significant content warnings. That’s my kind of book! It’s easy to just enjoy it.

My complaints are few. The biggest is that this book doesn’t warn you that it’s coming to an end, and if you’re not reading a physical copy with that visual back cover marker coming ever closer to your current page, the ending feels even more sudden. I see the series titles and marker on this book, I know there’s a book two and I expect it picks up right where this one left off, but I don’t like it when it feels like the first chapter of book two is just book one chapter 32 (book one has 31 chapters, by the way.) It ends up feeling like a target word count was reached and there’s the end of the manuscript, send it to the editor, the next chapter’s a new book. Yes, leave some questions unanswered and even ask new ones late in the game so that we readers feel a desperate need for the next book, but make sure enough questions are answered that this temporary ending is satisfying.

My other complaint is more of a personal taste issue, but: period language choices. Brynn and the rest of the natives to the Victorian England timeline speak exactly how I expect Victorian English people to speak and that’s fine. Zadicayn and the others from his time speak like Victorians but with a few token words aggressively swapped out for a middle English feel. If everyone’s going to be full of ye and thy and use me for both me and my, I want them to sound like a person of their social status in a Shakespeare play might sound backstage without the careful rhyming and iambic pentameter.

That said, again, I really enjoy Zadicayn, and I actually wish we got more than just one chapter of him living life in the 1500s before the jump to Victorian times.

Overall this is a very enjoyable book and a good setup for what promises to be a great series. I would recommend this to all lovers of low fantasy and historical fiction.

About the Author

J.M. Robison is a fantasy author who chronicles the events which drive heroes to their knees, dethrone kings, and unhinge history to bring magic back to life. Someday she’ll pack the wagon and roam the mountains in search of dragons. She dares to believe in magic. Do you?

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Amazon | Goodreads

Giveaway Alert!

One lucky follower of the tour will walk away with a $10 gift card to Amazon or Barnes & Noble, winner’s choice.

December 14: The Faerie Review
December 14: Bibliomanaic Aza – promo
December 28: Seven Troublesome Sisters
December 28: The Reading Addict
January 4: The Salty Nomad
January 11: Westveil Publishing
January 11: Archaeolibrarian – I Dig Good Books!

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Jenna is the artist/illustrator and author behind Westveil Publishing and its sub-banner platforms Jenna Gets Creative and The Westveil Archives. She live in Newfoundland, Canada with her husband, daughter, and feline overlords.

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