The Bridge to Magic
Shadow Lore Publishing (2023)
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (11/2022)
“The Bridge to Magic” is a magnificent high fantasy debut by exciting new author, Alex Thornbury. Dark and foreboding, while equally alluring and addicting—as the first book in The Sundered Web trilogy, Thornbury lays the foundation for an unforgettable journey.
All stories began and ended at the Bridge to Magic. – Chapter One, The Bridge to Magic.
This stunning page-turner revolves around magic, which was banished since the Sundering War, relegated to the Deadlands over 600 years ago. Everyone has heard the stories—everyone hates and fears magic and the bridge to magic. But the Blight is approaching Terren, the last remaining city in this dystopian world, threatening the very existence of humanity, and many are making the choice to cross the bridge. Is it the bridge to suicide or a path to a better life? Some make it across—others turn to dust or fall into the chasm, a fate worse than death. Fear and trepidation heighten and the people of Terren seek to purge every echo of magic from the world, believing it to be the only way to stop the Blight.
Among the citizens of Terren is a teen-aged girl named Elika. Orphaned years ago, she was just a young girl when her parents made the choice to cross the bridge, leaving her behind. Elika’s world and everything she’s ever believed is destroyed when she learns the truth about who she really is and discovers the magic hiding inside her. Elika is faced with dismal choices: does she destroy the magic inside her or cross the bridge where her fate remains uncertain?
I thoroughly enjoyed “The Bridge to Magic.” It’s original, captivating, and readers may be surprised to find this is the author’s debut novel. The storyline is absolutely mesmerizing, and Thornbury has a knack for telling a dark story. And I do mean dark. The despair, the suffering, losing hope—it’s a gloomy formula, and combined with the meticulously drawn settings, Thornbury’s words have the authority to shroud the reader in the eerie gloom that threatens humanity.
“I remember how much brighter the world used to be, full of vigor and color. Now, it’s dull and gray, like a rotting corpse. – Chapter Six, The Bridge to Magic
By contrast there are also moments of courage, possibility, and the power of strength in numbers, fighting not only the magic and the impending Blight, but the oppressive rulers. In spite of, or even because of, the circumstances besetting the people of Terren, many refuse to give up or give in, come what may.
The story hosts an intriguing cast of characters as well, from the scrappy street gangs to the mysterious ethereal beings—even the bridge is a formidable character. I love all the catchy names the author uses for her characters: One-thumb Will, Potter Ned, Rosy Rose, Silky Son, Rusty Pipe, Toothless Jake, Lusty Lucy and so many others—but don’t let these clever names fool you into thinking this is a whimsical read—they just bring a bit of light to glow amid the darkness. Most exciting is the main character, Elika. She really starts coming into her own by the end of the story and I can’t wait to see how she develops in the remainder of the trilogy.
“And she could not help wondering whether magic was truly more evil than men.” – Chapter Twelve, The Bridge to Magic
“The Bridge to Magic” is suitable for YA and adult audiences. It could easily shine as a YA novel with Elika as the protagonist, though the magic and adventure will appeal to crowds of all ages. Alex Thornbury does a remarkable job with world building and character development and her creativity and imagination shines in this work. I got the impression she thoroughly enjoyed writing this story – it shows. I highly recommend “The Bridge to Magic” and look forward to reading the rest of the trilogy as the story unfolds.