All Is Fair by Emma Newman. ★★★1/2
All Is Fair is the third installment in Emma Newman’s Split Worlds series. The Split Worlds imagines that the human world and the fay world have been separated, but in between them lies another realm, the Nether, which retains the hidebound trappings of Victorian society. The series mixes both urban fantasy and fantasy of manners. It also absolutely must be read in order. If you’re not already familiar with the series, start with Between Two Thorns. Spoilers for it and the second book will follow.
Will is trying to make his mark as the new Duke of Londinium, and Cathy is investigating the Agency and Ms. Rainer. Sam is becoming even more tangled up in the elemental court, and Max and the gargoyle are independently investigating the murders in Bath. Meanwhile, Ekstrand has embarked upon a secret war with the only other remaining sorcerer. Welcome back to the split worlds!
All Is Fair feels like the end of a chapter, but I am very glad that it is not the end of the series. In my review of the second book, Any Other Name, I said that my opinion rested on how plot strands were dealt with in the future. Well, the same can be said for All Is Fair. In particular, Will drugging Cathy in Any Other Name still must be addressed. If it ends up getting swept under the rug, I’ll be done with this series. I had faith that it would be dealt with satisfactorily, but…
I am now certain that Leanne was fridged. In fact, nothing about her character made any sense at all. She was completely designed as a plot device to farther Sam’s arc. After she’s fulfilled her purpose of giving Sam marital drama, she’s killed off so that he can have a new purpose in life. For a series that appears to have feminist aims, this is extremely disappointing, and it’s causing me to doubt how well various other subplots will be resolved.
On the bright side, All Is Fair is possibly the first book in the series that actually provides some answers to some long on going questions. What’s up with “Cathy’s potential”? The agency? The elemental court? Get ready for some reveals! Yay, plot development!
I’ll be soon diving into a copy of the fourth book, A Little Knowledge.