The Bridge to Magic is the first entry in The Sundered Web series by Alex Thornbury and a spellbinding read for fans of epic fantasy. Magic has been banished to the deadlands after the Sundering War, and tales about the bygone years are still told, each of them with new horrifying details. As a terrible Blight threatens humanity, the only city left standing is Terren. As the threat becomes stronger, people must consider how to deal with the Blight. Elika, an orphan who has grown up on the streets of Terren and has heard tales of the dark days suddenly discovers that she has been lied to when she finds out that the very thing she has been taught to fear — magic — lives in her. As she painfully becomes aware of the power in her, secrets about her birth begin to surface. Will Elika embrace her destiny that is invariably linked to magic or denounce her true nature for fear of being shunned?
There is a lot of great stuff in Alex Thornbury's The Bridge to Magic, a tale that presents an unlikely heroine. The world-building is impeccably accomplished and the author creates a wonderful contrast between the Deadlands and the last remaining city of Terren. Thornbury writes with confidence, creating a world where people live in fear. In addition to the fear that inhabits people's hearts about magic, there is another threat facing humanity. Elika is a well-sculpted protagonist, a young woman who has lived her life in ignorance of who and what she really is. The turning point in her life introduces a powerful personal crisis and an internal conflict that moves the plot steadily forward. This is dark fantasy at its best, a tale that will remind readers of the period in history when witches were hunted and burned. The more creative descriptions of the darkness that threatens humanity pull the narrative somewhere between horror and fantasy. Here is a wonderful description of the place where magic is banished: “Deadlands, the land beyond was simply called. There, the sky was gray, dull and cloudless in the day and starless at night. There were no splashes of sunlight on the ground— even when the sun was high—no snow, no rain, no breeze to stir the dust. Only the deadlands to where magic had been banished. The rocky land was flat, endless and desolate.” The Bridge to Magic is a delightful read with a voice that works and prose that is bold and enticing. But it is the immersive world of this creation that will have most readers turning the pages.