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Shadowbridge by Gregory Frost

Posted by travizzt on February 23, 2010

A shadow-puppeteer with a hidden secret and a boy with horrible past and an amazing gift meet and friendship blooms from there.

by Gregory Frost- This is the first book of a two book adventure. The second book is called Lord Tophet. Gregory Frost’s other works include; Attack of the Jazz Giants and Other Short Stories, Fitcher’s Bride, The Pure Cold Light, Tain, Remscela, and Lyrec.

The story is about a puppeteer named Leodora who discovers that her father was the great shadow-puppeteer named Bardsham. It also tells the story of the troupes musician, Diverus and his strange background. The story is mostly filled with the stories that Leodora, or commonly known as Jax, tells during her shadow-puppet plays. Most of the short stories have to do with the creation of the world, which is mostly consisting of a sea and spanned by bridges called the Shadowbridge. On these bridges or spans, most of the worlds populace live, with others living on little islands around the spans. The main focus however, is on the back stories of the two main characters, Leodora and Jax. With Leodora’s back story, you learn that she was raised by her grandfather, grandmother, aunt and uncle in a small fishing island beneath the Shadowbridge. Their family brings the fish to market up on the Shadowbridge. During a trip, Leodora gets separated from her uncle and grandfather and is almost kidnapped, when her family rescues her. After the attempted kidnapping, her life changes dramatically and she runs away from home with her father’s friend, Soter, who brought Leodora back to her family after her birth. Diverus’ story, on the other hand, is much different. He was born mentally challenged and through the power of a nameless god, he becomes aware. But he is thrown into a disgusting and horrified world before meeting Leodora.

1) Lack of Story. There doesn’t really seem to ever be a solid story. Really, this book is just a bunch of shorter stories with little patches in which a main story is told after the tales. Also, about half the book is back story for the two main characters. While the ‘real’ story doesn’t start-up until the last fifty pages, for the majority of the book it really just feels like an anthology and really nothing else. At times, it was a little frustrating to not have a main story line and that everything that happens in the present is seeped in mystery.
2) Scene Breaks. It was hard at times to know when a scene was done. When a scene was over, there was a strip of nothing to symbolize this. What my problem with that was, after a tale was told, it ended at the end of a page and when the next page started, I wasn’t sure why suddenly we were in the present again. It was a little disorienting.
3) Jax’s Identity. In the start of the story, we were told the reason why Leodora is Jax is because women, in this world, aren’t usually allowed to do things she was doing. This is why she was Jax, her male disguise. Which is fine and understandable, but after we meet Diverus, it just suddenly is known she’s a woman, yet at the same time it wasn’t. It was a little confusing. The scene doing this is when Jax is trying to hide from a tavern keeper’s wife’s ‘needs.’ The problem was that we knew that Jax was Leodora, yet every other time when Jax was mentioned, it was followed with Leodora and it felt a little confusing and awkward to read something that the character was referred to in two different ways.

1) Stories. Honestly, they were just great. They were interesting, well told, and really helped understand the world. They had the feel of mythology and religions that we have in our world today. Some of the stories involved various gods and heroes, reflecting things in Greek and Roman mythology. Then other stories told of the creation of the world and how death came to be. I really thought they were clever and how they were introduced was just wonderful.
2) Back Stories. Just like the tales within the stories, the back stories were just wonderful. They really make you care about the characters and gave a lot of insight to their personal state of being. Not only that but they were disturbing in various ways. Each story made me feel disgusted by what happens to the characters and it really makes you feel more emotion towards them.
3) Cliffhanger. This is yet another story that has a cliffhanger that makes it so that you can’t wait to pick up the next book. This is mostly caused by the fact that you have little story and you hope that the mysteries that were given are explained in some way in the next installment. Still, the story hooks you in a way that you don’t want to let go.

Side Notes:
1) Myths and Tales. While I mentioned them above, they still were great. I really hope to read more about this world and the various things about it.
2) Shadowbridges. They were just simply interesting. How something came to be is an interesting question and I liked how each span was totally different and consisted of a different culture. Even the descriptions made them sound impressive.
3) Cover Art. I do like it. It does give a wonderful example of the bridge and how crowded it is. It’s just pretty and not really all that busy for your eyes to look at.

Overall: 4/5
Final Thoughts:
Even though there is no real story line until the last thirty or so pages, it was interesting reading about the various tales. Now I’m a sucker for mythology like what was given and the tales were entertaining to say the least. The characters were great because you connected with them and I did feel bad about some of the things they’ve been through. It really is an entertaining, fun read.

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