Book Review: Bridgefinders

Book 1 of the Echo Worlds Series

By Joshua C Cook

This is a contemporary fantasy set on this here Earth, just as we know it.  But there is actually more to our world than we think –Bridgefinders_BookCover there is an alternate world where magic reigns, and where a malicious enemy plots Earth’s downfall.  See, this enemy wants to control Earth, but fortunately there is an underground group of heroes who fight off these unwanted attentions.  These heroes are called the Bridgefinders.

And our protagonist is a Bridgefinder called Cendan Key.  Only at outset, he is not a Bridgefinder.  Hence begins a story of discovery and retaliation.

So – what is this adventure like?  Well, ultimately I quite liked it.  The overall concept is not entirely original (the idea that there is a hidden magic on Earth has been done before I suspect), but the particulars of this tale certainly seem unique.  The references to the alternate world being an “echo of creation” are certainly quite interesting, and the way the author marries all sorts of mythical creatures into his world is interesting.  And in fact, beyond this, the author also exercises an extensive imagination in the formulation of even greater numbers of mythical beasts.  Great work.

And our lead character is interesting too.  A geek certainly, and one who struggles with social interactions.  He is someone who likes logical processes, and this presents a natural challenge to the world he is thrown into – so he naturally rebels against the path laid before him.  Will he accept this fate?  This is one of the key threads of the story.

Now, I have not tried to give much away in this review (I don’t think reviews should give too much away!) but I suspect that anyone reading this will already have a feel for the story.  This is good in many ways, but I do think that the trajectory of the story is perhaps a little too obvious.  There are certainly twists here, but the twists are setup rather earlier than they occur, so at no point did I find myself gasping (not that I actually verbally gasp that much when reading anyway!)  This certainly didn’t ruin the story, but it did mean that the story flowed logically (perhaps the story is a reflection of Cendan’s personality?) and never truly astonished.  Still a good story, but it could perhaps have been closed up slightly for the reader.

But a logical story certainly does not mean a tardy story.  We are right into the action in this book, at outset, and the pace doesn’t ease noticeably.  I never felt like I was meandering in the prose, and pinch-points arrived at logical locations to keep the story moving on.  Overall, a well-constructed arc.

So – are there any problems?  Well yes, I think there are.  And the most important one is to do with the writing itself.  The prose is certainly decent, and doesn’t become cloying or anything like that, but there are numerous errors in here – and not subtle pedantic ones.  The most noticeable (and possibly least forgiving) one is that our protagonist’s name is spelt incorrectly on a few occasions.  That’s one place we really shouldn’t have spelling mistakes!

And there are some other mistakes too – certainly not entirely destructive, but frequent enough to twig as a reader and make the experience judder somewhat.  There is also one switch of POV which I think is a mistake, but again, not a fundamental problem – just jarring as a reader.  It would be worth closing these down in a future edit.

In terms of other aspects, I suspect that they come down to taste.  One thing that got on my nerves a bit was Sal’s ‘surfer dude’ dialogue, but that is probably just me.  There’s no need to change anything, and in fact, it did add some interesting contrast to the other characters – it just got under my skin a bit.  And the other characters are likeable enough with their own personalities, though I suspect that more could have been made of our protag’s relationship with the girl (not that I want a romance, but some extra tension there could have been nice).

And then beyond this, the book seems to come to quite an abrupt end – there is none of the loose ends tying stuff that you normally get at the end of the novel.  Now, this is the first part of a series, so in some sense loose ends are entirely acceptable, but I think that more could have been done with the conclusions, and in leading into the next book.  We know that all is not well and that the fight is not won, but there was very little sense of what the new equilibrium looks like.  Will this deter readers from moving on?  I very much doubt it, but something a bit more tapered could be quite nice.

Overall this is an enjoyable read – certainly for those who jump at this sub-genre.  And with a bit of editorial polish and tapering at the end, this would probably be a very decent book.  It’s a great idea and promises to turn into an intriguing series.  Great work.

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