All Good Things by Emma Newman

thefool's review against another edition

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Hey look!!

I finished a book!!

This series is oh-so magnificent. It really is. It kept my interest and reignited my spark of reading when I thought it long dead. It was a very satisfying conclusion and I so wish Emma would return to this world at one point in another.

Max, though. My favorite.

lizshayne's review

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(My first review got eaten by my wifi and now I'm sad.)
This series. In some ways, this review is for the entire thing and for Newman totally sticking the landing and successfully pulling everything together. I was about 1/5 of the way through and watching her unravel ends that had already seemed tidied up and wondering how she was going to finish it all in one book, but she did it, weaving everything in and getting it off the needles before it grew too big. (Here endeth the knitting analogy.) I really enjoyed it; it's exactly the sort of urban fantasy I like reading: clever, British, and feminist.

But I have to talk about Will. Because he really is the hardest character to get right and Newman just does it effortlessly. The question is not whether he is the villain of the story (or at least a villain. Everyone's the villain at some point) but whether he can successfully sell us as readers on his vision of reality. Being inside his head is disorienting because Newman shows us how his justifications work and his remorse and all the good things he does. She shows us how evil happens at the hands of those who don't see themselves as evil and who deeply regret it. It's up to us--and to Cathy, who has been Will's victim one too many times--to see through him and to recognize how well meaning people who would never see themselves as evil still do horrible things. The book asks us to think about how we deal with people who mean well and do ill, who lack evil intentions, but create evil consequences. And it answers, rather brilliantly, destroy the power structures that let them perpetuate their evil. It's not about punishing Will; it's about making sure no one will ever be in his position again.

There's a reason that I consider The Split Worlds to be paradigmatic of a story trend I've seen recently. I've been watching the growth of what I think of as Social Justice Speculative Fiction - that is SF where the concerns of the plot are deeply imbricated in issues of social justice. (I cannot believe I have to add this disclaimer, but) This is not derogatory; on the contrary, it's an example of SF doing what it does best, speculating. As speculative fiction, it either predicts or mythologizes elements of the world we inhabit in order to better understand the way that the world works. Fantasy, in particular, is no longer merely the genre of the mythic past that idealizes The Return of the King, but equally the genre of the mythic present via defamiliarization, holding the fun house mirror up to life to reexamine what we thought we knew about war and colonization and feminism and queer representation. It's a brilliant achievement and (speaking of disclaimers I shouldn't need) makes for better crafted narratives with more polished prose than the tired rehash of the Hero's Journey. Newman's work fits into this form neatly and for that I love it. But Newman's social justice fantasy is also fundamentally the fantasy that magic can be a force for social justice. Spoilers for both Split Worlds and Wonder Woman ahead.
SpoilerNewman links the splitting of her worlds with climate change, much like Wonder Woman links humankind's propensity to war with the God Ares. And Diana's confrontation with Remus Lupin Ares serves partly to give her an enemy in her weight class and partly to undermine the idea that magical force fighting for the side of good is enough to fix things. Not entirely; Diana is still a SJW of the highest order and the movie is still something of a fantasy about having the magical power to fix things, but it does complicate that vision significantly. Newman mostly plays it straight: in order to fix climate change, you need to bring back the Fae and they will balance the elemental court. Not perfectly, but they make it possible. And it works in the story, but it does leave me wishing to set Lord Poppy on everyone in power not currently working to fix things...

helensbookshelf's review

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I was so happy to get my hands on an ARC of All Good Things! I'm a big fan of this series, I've been avidly following Cathy's journey through the first four books and I was excited to see how the story would conclude.

Cathy has been on a massive journey. From the scared young woman in the first book to the Duchess of Londinium trying to effect social change, she has now grown into a true leader, Princess Leia rebel style.

For the first few books, Cathy was mainly ineffective, complaining but not actually doing anything. In the last two books she has made grown in confidence, started caring about other people, and made some real changes, but what she does here is just brilliant. I love the way this book ended.

The side stories were neatly wrapped up too. Though I do feel like there was a lot of wrapping up in this book, and at times a lot of the stories felt rushed. Will and the Fae princess, for example, seemed to be a bit crammed in.

I'm not happy about what happened with Lucy.
SpoilerShe has been such a strong character through the series and very supportive of Cathy, and I don't like the way she was treated at the end. Lucy's concerns were dismissed, her worries ignored, and then she was ditched because she didn't fall in line. I feel like she deserved more respect than this.

Max and the gargoyle have been my favourite characters by far. I'd love to see some more of them, I feel like Cathy's story might be done but those two have a lot of work to do now.

This has been one of my favourite series and I'm sad to see it end, but I'm also excited to see what Emma Newman does next.

I received a free copy from the publisher in return for an honest review.

matthewdaniels's review

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adventurous dark mysterious medium-paced
  • Strong character development? Yes


kittyg's review

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I adored this :D This is the conclusion to the Splitworlds series by Emma Newman who has quickly become a new favourite author for me with this series. I started this series as my first reads of this year, and I finished it with this. I'm so sad it's over, but I loved the experience of reading it :)

This is quite tricky to explain without you having read the previous books but essentially it's set in a world which is split in 3. We have Mundanus, the human world, Excillium, the prison of the Fey and the Nether which is a magical in-between for Fey-touched. Cathy (our main character) is a Fey-touched who despises the Nether and the way things are there (it's very like Victorian England) and she wants things to change...

This book cemented my love for Cathy as a character becuase she's SO badass in this book. Not only does she prove everyone who doubted her before wrong, who does so in a really damn epic way, and with some amazing feminist moments I just couldn't get over!

What I love about this series is the representation of men and women is equally brilliant. We don't have black and white characters, we have a whole load of flawed grey characters who fall in the cracks of society and are manipulators and the manipulated alike...

The set up of the magic and these worlds totally fascinates me, and I love the way that the worlds ended up, even though I did want SO much more. I would 100% read more in this world or a similar one, and I cannot wait to see what Emma does next becuase this was truly brilliant.

I haven't been giving out many 5* ratings this year... I AM SO HAPPY that this one is a 5* read through and through :D <3

imyril's review

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A satisfying conclusion to the story overall, but I didn't enjoy the reading as much as usual - I found it clunky in places, and don't feel the secondary characters (notably Tom and Lucy) got the breathing space they needed to make their actions feel entirely natural.

That said, it's still an entertaining and emotionally satisfying ride - Emma Newman is to be commended for both neatly wrapping up her loose ends AND managing to completely surprise me more than once.

3.5 stars

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I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

tannat's review

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I'm kind of sad that this series is over but I'm reminding myself that I can enjoy it all again on a reread!

crimsoncor's review

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really, my big complaint about this is that
Spoiler Will lives through it. Lady Rose should have nuked his ass to kingdom come when given the chance
. I understand that from the perspective of more books possibly set in this world that it adds some additional dramatic possibility, but really,
Spoiler I was so done with that fucker.

metamorphoses's review

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TW : mention of past rape

Well, here it is I finished the series...
It was really good as a whole, I loved the characters and their development, I loved seeing the nuanced point of views and even though I hate him I thought seeing Will's pov was super interesting and showed how not that easy it is to just put people in the "bad people" box and be done with it. He is horrible but he also somehow has a big heart when it comes especially to Sophia, who would have guessed.
He deserved a worst fate though.

I still really think this series should have had much more intersectionnality : we need more talk about women of color ESPECIALLY as there's a lot of talk about slavery in this... On white people only.
Also, where are the queer people?

There's a few things about the ending that bother me, but that would be a spoiler. I do think other people's opinion were never taken into account and it was always all about Cathy's feelings and England's problem which made it a international solution but... Did you even as if those international people wanted or even needed your help? I'm not sure they did.

It's still a 4 stars though of course because it's still a very important subject, to tackle patriarchy and feminism and civil right movements and environmentalism and capitalism all together (because yes everything is linked of course. That was great to point out).

I wonder if we will get a book 6 one day... It does seem open and it would be interesting.

panxa's review

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A fairly satisfying end to the series, although I would have liked some more info on how magic and technology are going to interact now, and I thought Beatrice's plot line was underserved.