Catherine Rhoes-Papaver is a clever girl, but rather plain looking. She is a member of a powerful Fae-touched family, but longs to live out her life in Mundanus, aging just like a normal human. However, her family will stop at nothing to track her down, bring her back, and force her to take her rightful place in an arranged marriage to a wealthy but arrogant young man named William Reticulata-Iris; although truth be told, he'd much prefer to be married off to Cathy's vivacious and beautiful younger sister, Elizabeth, at least for now. Both families live in Aquae Sulis, the Nether reflection city of Bath, just as Londinium is to London. The Fae patron of the Papaver family is the cold and calculating Lord Poppy, who finds Cathy before her family does and places her in an impossible situation, where if she fails to impress him, she could face eternity enslaved in Exilium.
Meanwhile, in Mundanus, humans are disappearing at an alarming rate and Max, an Arbiter (those tasked with monitoring and policing Fae behavior), is sent to investigate. What he discovers is that there is vast corruption among the Arbiter chapters and he finds himself pretty much on his own trying to solve the mystery of the missing humans; well, unless you count the gargoyle he unwittingly brought to life that now travels around with him, personifying (gargoyle-ifying? Never mind...) his innermost drama queen, not completely unnoticed, mind you.
Then there's Sam, a human computer programmer who sees something he shouldn't have, when he is out late at night, drunk off his ass and needing to pee on a tree. Before he knows it, he finds himself under a spell that makes him forget, although his mind contains a great secret, the answer to what really happened to a prominent and very missing member of the Nether society, a mystery that has all of Aquae Sulis a flutter.
And then there's beautiful and charming Amelia Alba-Rosa, who, with her brother, Cornelius, comes from a powerful family in Londinium, but who has most definitely caught William's eye, although he knows it is a relationship that can never happen. To make matters worse, Horatio Gallica-Rosa, a brash newcomer from Londinium, seems hell-bent on moving to Aquae Sulis permanently, even if it means stooping to illegal means to gain residence. He has not only put William's nose out of joint just by behaving as if he owns the town and calling him out, but he has also called Cathy's reputation into question before the entire city at the social event of the season. Since residents of the Nether society behave and dress as if it were the Victorian era, this is bad news for William and his family.
If Horatio is to be foiled, the mystery unraveled, and the true perpetrators of the crime revealed, it will take Cathy, William, Max and even Sam working together with all of their collective wits, and a little magic, to solve the crime and get out with their lives intact, lives which have become inextricably intertwined due to Fae magic, happenstance, or just plain, old bad luck.
While Between Two Thorns: The Split Worlds - Book One has a lot of characters to get to know and jumps around each chapter between these characters, once you get everyone straight in your head, the universe of the Split Worlds is a fantastic and exciting one, fraught with danger, intrigue, magic, and little metal doodads of the steampunk variety, just to keep things interesting. I have already begun delving into the second book, Any Other Name: The Split Worlds - Book Two, so look for a review soon. Since I am late to the Split Worlds game, I am fortunate enough to have four books in the series out and ready to plow through, so I can't wait to see what the future holds for Cathy, Sam, Max and William.