Shadowbridge is a world of linked spans arching high above the seas. It is a world of gods and magic, and above all, it is a world of stories. Leodora is a shadow-puppeteer who travels the spans of Shadowbridge collecting stories then retelling them in performances. However, forces are moving in the world and her past, and the pasts of her companions, are about to catch up with them.
Shadowbridge reminds me a bit of The Orphan’s Tales. The metaphor of bridges is quite obvious, tales linking one another to form a whole, though the book doesn’t have the narrative richness or complexity of Valente’s work.
Much of the book is told in flashback, telling the stories of the characters themselves. The character backgrounds as well as the Shadowbridge stories are the highlight and a pleasure to read, however, the main narrative told in the present suffers a bit. The fact that a good portion of it is told from the point of view of a character that is constantly drunk and suffers hallucinations certainly doesn’t help. Also, the book ended on a cliffhanger that made absolutely no sense at all. Hopefully, the second half of the duology will explain a few things. Frankly, I think the publishers made a mistake in splitting the book as I think the plot would make much more sense if the book could be read in its entirety.
To be honest, another problem I had was suspension of disbelief, no pun intended. I have no problem with the fact that this is a fantastical world with magic, but the concept of bridges that continue more or less forever was a little difficult to swallow. The whole point of a bridge is to go from one place to another. Why would you have a bridge that goes nowhere? Why are there no platforms or floating cities? The bridges are metaphorical I get that. I just wonder if there was a better way Frost could have conceived it.
Characterizations are quite well done, although many of the human motivations were pretty cynical. Most of the characters act only for their own ends and nothing else, almost begging the gods to intervene. I’m not sure if that’s the point or if Frost merely wrote it that way.
I’ll withhold final judgment until I’ve read the second half, but for now I can only give the book a basic recommendation.