Antonia Ryder's Reviews > The Foes Between Us

The Foes Between Us by J.M. Robison
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really liked it

I received an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of this book in exchange for an honest review. I have also read an earlier draft of this book and have an acquaintance with the author. It is my aim to be honest and impartial without giving any spoilers.


What I liked:

I’m a sucker for Victorian, so I could not help liking this book right off the bat for its setting.

The characters are very consistent. Nobody steps out of character at any point in this story, and the voice remains true to itself. Brynn sounds like Brynn no matter where you are in the story, and her inner commentary is usually entertaining. She is good at detailing the town, the people, and highlighting rumours that she may or may not believe in. Her sympathetic heart is probably her best - and worst - traits. We had to wait quite a long way into the story to have any kind of description of her, but this is all right, because I know the way she thinks and don’t need a perfect picture of her right away. The way she interacts with everyone else is consistent with the way her thoughts are.

She also has a great deal of conflict. What she wants is unacceptable in her society, but she can’t stop wanting it, and she can’t just stop conforming to society. It’s a delicate balance that is present through the entire story, and is a theme most people can relate to.

I really like the way the mystery builds at the beginning of this story. For a novel with very little actual action taking place, it doesn’t feel as slow as it could have and keeps the interest fairly well. So many little details are set up right at the beginning of the story, and they are brought into light quite well by the end in spite of the fact that this is the first book in a series.

The premise is excellent. I thought it was quite enjoyable throughout, and did not have much disbelief to suspend to enjoy the tale. The setting is also quite stellar for the most part, and I can admire the poetic descriptions of certain things that are shown.

I would certainly recommend this book to people that aren’t as heavy on violence, and prefer characters dealing with society, their emotions, and growing up. This book does a fantastic job of that.


What I didn’t like so much:

Mostly, I don’t have any issues with this book except one huge thing that probably won’t even both readers, and a couple smaller things that are mostly personal preference.

I’m a dreadful historical reader, especially of the Victorian Era because I spent so much time researching (and even wearing some of) the clothes. While the 1850s (crinoline era) is my favourite time period for Victorian, I do know a handful of things about prior eras and cannot entirely commend this book for flawless historical accuracy. It is not.

I know some of these discrepancies I noted were purposeful (the lacing of the dress, for instance), and I do not mind this, because it’s a fictional tale. Others struck me as odd per the time period. For example, the type of dress sounds distinctly 1850s instead of the (rather more boxy) 1840s. ‘Shape Enhancing’ corsets were not as much of a thing in the 1840s, and neither were they as uncomfortable to wear as Brynn makes them out to be (I know because I have worn one), and bustles were not worn at the same time as crinolines. Bustles did not even come into fashion until around 1870). I was confused especially on one occasion where Brynn starts the chapter in a bustle, then mentions later her crinoline tapping steps.

Which is it?

Again, this is not a BIG issue and probably won’t damage anyone’s reading experience, it just kind of nagged at me a bit. Especially the part where someone remarks Brynn’s skirt is ‘big enough to sleep under’, which 1840s skirts would have struggled to achieve.

Brynn’s town is hardly described at all, so I have only a vague idea how she and her family get to town or where in town things are.

The prose may read a little heavy at the beginning and near the end, but this may have just been my experience because of the e-format.

Brynnella’s whiny attitude toward dresses and society - while mostly well founded, I suppose - might annoy readers that are bothered by such behaviour because she does harp on them quite a lot (I did not find her as charming as I found Eugenides from ‘The Thief’, who is also kind of whiny at times, but I didn’t feel like screaming in frustration at her, either).


Overall it’s a good read, very solid, and easy to get back into if you find yourself needing to put the book down for any reason. I definitely would recommend it, and I enjoyed it for what it is.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
May 5, 2018 – Shelved

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