Week 1: Any Other Name Read-Along
We’re gaining steam on our read-along of the The Split Worlds series this month, continuing with the second book Any Other Name! If you’re interested in joining this Read-Along, visit the SF/F Read-Along group for more information and to join the discussion.
Cathy has been reluctantly married into the Iris family and moves to Londinium, the magical Nether reflection of London, setting her on a collision course with the restrictive, high-pressure social circles that demand propriety and obedience, things the vocal and free-spirited Cathy cannot abide. Will, meanwhile, is trying to find a compromise for his new bride, but whispers in his ear are urging him towards dark deeds…
Sam, determined to dive back into the world of Exilium to rescue innocents, crosses paths with Cathy and Max once again as Max and the gargoyle uncover more information about the mysterious Agency and the chain of events that wiped out the Bath Chapter. Sacrifices, terrible deals, and dreadful revelations mark this second installment of Emma Newman’s wondrous Split Worlds series.
Week 1: Monday 6th June, Chapters 1-6, hosted by Over The Effing Rainbow
Week 2: Monday 13th June, Chapters 7-13, hosted by x + 1
Week 3: Monday 20th June, Chapters 14-20, hosted by Lynn’s Book Blog
Week 4: Monday 27th June, Chapters 21-End, hosted by The Illustrated Page
1. Cathy’s wedding day arrives, and her mother wasn’t joking when she said she’d make sure Cathy would go through with it. What are your thoughts/feelings on Cathy’s forced circumstances?
Mogsy: Cathy’s parents have really dialed their callousness up to 11 on this one. I was prepared in the first book to dismiss her mother as yet another victim of her overbearing husband, simply having no choice but to go along with his wishes. However, this opening sequence before the wedding proves she’s just as bad. Now I’m even more horrified at Cathy’s situation. In some ways, what her own mother did to her was even worse than when her father beat her, because in the latter case at least there had been a chance, however slim, to fight back or run away. In contrast, being effectively drugged robbed Cathy of her control completely, to the point where she wasn’t even free to feel the anger that was rightfully hers. For Cathy, who values her freedom above everything else, I think the realization that she was rendered utterly helpless was just as awful and traumatizing than the knowledge that her own mother did that to her.
Tiara: Honestly, I was disgusted and disturbed by her interactions with her parents for various reasons starting with this one. However, I am starting to see a trend I don’t much like in these books with the female characters versus the males characters where the female characters come off overly petty, even Cathy, and pretty irredeemable while the male characters who act in equally gross ways are given more opportunity to prove that, “Hey, I’m not such a bad guy…” or have the women reinforce the men by saying things like, “… if you let him, he’ll be kind to you…” While I am disgusted by the mother’s action, I think I am more disappointed that the female characters are boxed in in this way while I’m asked to sympathize with the male characters. There’s little in between for them. With that being said, let’s get on to this next question…
2. On the way to the ceremony, we get some surprising insights into Cathy’s father’s background and why he treats his daughter the way he does. Does this change your opinion of him at all? If so, what do you make of him now?
Mogsy: No, my opinion of him has not really changed. My thoughts on his story?
Guess what? Just because you have your own little tale of youthful rebellion to tell, doesn’t erase or excuse any of the crap things you did to your daughter. I also didn’t see his circumstances as anything close to resembling the indignity of what Cathy is going through right now. If this was meant to be their sweet father-daughter moment, it really fell flat on its face. All I see is a man who might not mean to be cold and cruel on purpose, but the society he lives in has deluded him completely on how he should live his life and raise his children. I guess if there’s one thing to be said for him, I think he truly believes in his own little mind that he’s doing the best for Cathy, and his extreme worldviews have blinded him from any other avenue, or seeing his daughter as anything more than a bargaining chip or object he can control.
Tiara: Ugh. The sections with Cathy’s father is exactly the kind of emotional manipulation I don’t care for in books. All books manipulate our emotions to some degree, but how I feel about such manipulation is going to be decided by what I perceive the intent of this manipulation to be. In this section, I felt I was was really expected to see some drop of a good quality in the father because once upon a time he rebelled a little and maybe Cathy’s just like him. No. I am not okay with writers wanting me to sympathize with their abusive characters, to try to justify any gross behavior with, “Oh, he’s just trying to make sure she doesn’t ruin her life in his small, misguided world that’s why he had to beat her. Oh, he really loves her. Look at this touching moment of tears and understanding–” Fuck that. Don’t. Do. This.
3. The wedding itself, and the honeymoon, brings some unavoidable truths with it, for Cathy and Will both. Does their behaviour in this part of the book change what you think of them/their outlook?
Mogsy: I have to admit, that was a really awkward scene to watch. In my mind I consider Cathy to be a 21st-century modern woman and I view Will as a Victorian-era man. The two will most certainly have different views on the subject of arranged marriages, and throwing them together went as poorly as I expected. Because they’re both products of their experiences though, I guess I can’t really blame Will for having certain “expectations” on their wedding night, but in this section my regard for him also plummeted to a new low. Even though he ended up leaving Cathy alone, I was still seriously annoyed by his hypocrisy and attitude. It’s frightening to think what might have happened to Cathy, if she had been betrothed to someone else and if they had been more insistent.
Tiara: After mom and dad, this was the scene that was almost the straw in the maw for me. This is honestly where I almost decided I was about to tap out of this book. If I get started on this question, we’d be here all day. You don’t want that. You really don’t want any of that. If you can’t tell by all the answers, I have like zero ounces of patience to give this story right now, but I’ll try to see what the next week brings. Everything about this first week was the worst. The woooooorrrrrst!
Except Sam. Sam’s all right and the gargoyle. The gargoyle needs a name. I was about to say I was going to call him Max because of video games Sam & Max, which happen to be a police game, but then I remembered his… his… body… (what do we even call that… ???) is Max. So, I’ll call him Dave instead.