The Book of Briars


Must read 🏆

The books don’t exist, but they may be the key to everything. This mind-bending book is a beautiful homage to imagination and storytelling.

Alistair Mead’s memories disappeared the day she returned; leaving a void inside she could never fill. All she can remember is The Briar Books. Years later, Alistair has convinced herself that she is past her childhood trauma. Then, her old hallucinations start to return; dragging her on a quest to find the books only she can remember. Meanwhile, writer Ben Kriminger is living in a self-imposed exile after his first novel had unexpectedly tore his life apart. Unable to bring himself to write, Ben struggles to make ends meet when chapters of a novel start mysteriously appearing on his doorstep. Chapters about a young woman named Alistair Mead looking for books only she can remember.

I was on the edge of my seat from start to finish! The ever-present feeling that things were more than they appeared made me anxious to discover what would be revealed next. I was honestly surprised by many of the novel’s twists and turns.

As my first experience with The Briar Archive series, I was in awe with how all of the stories, both past and present, were weaved together. In its own mind-bending way, the book manages to make you part of the story and, by extension, part of the magic. The magic is often poetic in its use but hard to understand as a system. However, that did not bother me given the context of the story. Neither Alistair nor Ben uses magic and are discovering/re-discovering it after it is already fading from the world. Ultimately, the ambiguity only adds to the feeling of wonder when magic appears. 

Even though this book is the 5th entry in The Briar Archive series, it is intended as another ‘entry’ point and I had no trouble jumping right in. That being said, the experience is probably very different for those who have read the series and/or participate in the interactive community. The story is a continuation of previous books despite focusing on different characters and there are plenty of tie-ins that would likely delight experienced readers. Returning readers might also be more familiar with the magic system and complex writing style that makes this book so unique and refreshing for new readers.

Overall, this is a phenomenal book that anyone who appreciates the power of storytelling will enjoy. I can’t wait to read the other books in this series and see where it goes next!

Reviewed by

As a teacher and writer, I have a deep appreciation for books of all kinds. To me, stories are not just an escape, but a way to help us explore parts of ourselves we might have never discovered. Through my reviews, I hope to give my fellow writers a boost and make their stories known.

No one remembered the books but her.

About the author

C.J. Bernstein is an author, maker, interactive storyteller, and proprietor of a magimystic publishing house. He writes about magic hidden in the dark corners of our modern world. He lives in the Pacific Northwest (like all good Ebenguards should) with his husband, kids, and dogs. view profile

Published on April 12, 2021

140000 words

Contains mild explicit content ⚠️

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Fantasy

Reviewed by