Wow, many apologies everyone! The lateness of this post is a fail on my part. It was my mom’s birthday today and I haven’t really had a chance to hit up the computer until now. Anyway, here’s my review!
Ashlyn McVean’s life will never be the same after her father’s sudden death. But unlike most people who have to deal with loss, she also suddenly has to deal with faeries and centuries-old grudges and a grandmother, Memaw, who has always kept her at a distance. Until now. Why has her grandmother been hiding any sense of emotion from her all these years? Or what has Memaw been hiding from Ashlyn?
To be honest, I wasn’t sure about Bridger when I first started reading it. There seemed to be a lot of hedging around oddities that happen to or around Ashlyn, but nothing really gets explained for a while. From a writer’s standpoint it seems that some of the weird things that come up get pointed out by Ashlyn, who is our narrator, and narrative attention is paid but then Ashlyn simply pushes these interesting things aside to get on with the story. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It definitely shows that Megan Curd has a good handle on her protagonist’s voice and thoughts. Just, sometimes it was a bit frustrating to become invested in a strange event and then have the narrator brush off this investment. One thing that bugs me is the necklace. You’ll know what I’m talking about if you read the book. I know it’s there to lay ground for future books, but I’m just so curious about it!
But the hedging is only problematic until the story starts to really pick up. There is a definitely pivotal moment in the story that anyone who reads this novel will notice, and once I reached that point, I was hooked. I wasn’t paying so much attention to the writing anymore, unless I thought there was something good about it. For instance, I love Ashlyn’s funny thoughts. I grinned a lot at the playful way she thinks, and also at the funny lines other characters had to say. That was cool.
Also, Curd has a great sense of worldbuilding. During exposition and backstory passages, I was impressed by how much thought went into creating this situation, its history, and its possibilities. I’m not an expert on faerie/changeling lore but there’s a lot of cool stuff going on that seems original to me. Sometimes there’s so much cool stuff that it’s kind of complicated and confusing–I will admit, I was confused about a few things even at the end–but this is a good problem to have. It’s so much better to know the author has been thinking about all these different details and imbuing this world with them.
Okay, I should address the love story. You all know I’m more conservative when it comes to the romance parts of the books I read. There was a good chunk of romance here, kind of a love triangle… and at one point a love square, I think. It was all right, maybe a touch overbearing in a couple of spots, but it wasn’t the absolute main focus of the story so it was fine. The main couple got together kind of quickly for my taste, but I was down with it because there is a whole other side to their relationship that crops up and causes complications for them. Which is great. Always nice to have some dimension to these relationships, I say.
So there you have it. The deeper I got into this book, the better it got. One downside is that it’s definitely the first in a series. I could tell by the way the action ramped up and that things were getting cooler and cooler as the end approached to culminate in a pseudo-cliffhanger. Yikes! If the second book, Traitor, is anything like the second half of Bridger, I am so there.
Ashlyn can’t help who she is, heck she is still discovering who–and what–she is, but she rises to the occasion to fight a fight that wasn’t originally hers to begin with. I know how that situation feels, even though I don’t have faeries in my life. Despite all the fantastic things going on, I could really connect emotionally with Ashlyn and the others, especially Memaw and Reese. I just hope that as much as Curd explored the power Ashlyn is capable of in this book, she draws up some limits to her nature in the next book for balance.
That said, this series has some definite promise!
Thanks to A Tale of Many Reviews for organizing this blog tour and providing the review copy.
So there’s my review! To read other posts having to do with Bridger and Megan Curd, check out the other blogs on the tour via the list at A Tale of Many Reviews.
And now for the giveaway! If you’d like to enter to win an ebook copy of Bridger by Megan Curd, please leave a comment with your name and email address.
And don’t forget to follow the tour to the end at A Tale of Many Reviews for the grand prize giveaway! You can win a signed print copy of Bridger, and swag! Who doesn’t love swag? I personally love swag.
Good luck everyone!
Thanks for stopping by!
Jael Thompson has issues. She’s moved constantly with her father since she was a baby, she never knew her mother, and she can’t control her hair. Then she turns sixteen, and instead of letting her celebrate, her dad gives her a gift that keeps on giving–an object that taps into Jael’s true nature as the daughter of her mother, who happened to be a demoness. It all snowballs (or fireballs???) from there.
You guys, not even exaggerating, I just blasted through about 350 pages of this book. In one night. It took me more than eight hours and it’s 7:39 am at the time of writing. (I told you I’m slow!)
But you know what?
I AM SO HAPPY RIGHT NOW.
I absolutely loved this book! I was intrigued by the premise originally, and by the end of the second chapter, resistance was futile. To put it mildly, I have a weakness for mythology. All types, including Judeo-Christian mythology. There is a lot of name-dropping here, but none of it is superficial. I’m no expert, but I recognized a lot of references and allusions and the dedication to the history and the background just made this story all the more rich.
This story hit my awesome button in more than one way, though. The actual magic that’s involved and the rules and logic behind it made it really interesting. It wasn’t just flashy instant magic, there was a method to it that made me appreciate Skovron’s level of sensitivity to what is usually taken for granted in the genre. I also really liked the way he explored the different philosophies concerning the beliefs that are pertinent to this book, ranging from religious overzealousness to the motivations of the Big Bad. This is a story about demons and magic and priests and other things, and it could have easily relied upon a cardboard cut-out belief system. It did not. The ideas floating around and the metaphors employed added a hefty depth to the plot.
I have some very small niggling details that bothered me. Jumping back to the past jarred me the first few chapters it was employed. Despite that, I actually liked the chapters that happened in the past much more than the present story for a noticeable fraction of the book. There seemed to be more forward plot movement and I liked the characters more in those flashbacks, while in the present the story was moving more slowly for a while. (I still enjoyed those present chapters too, though.) It also seemed strange to me the way a certain relative of Jael’s talked. For someone so old, he… didn’t sound old. And that was actually pretty amusing, but it did bother me a little at first. Small quibbles, really.
The quality of the story itself was great. The pacing worked well, there was a good balance between exposition and action so I never felt like I was suffereing through an info-dump, even though there is a lot of explaining to do to establish the rules of the world. A lot of the characters surprised me, either by the way they were given depth or history, or by the way they used the rules of the world to try to get ahead. Jael’s father was very present and active in the story, which was so refreshing and different from the YA norm. The ending didn’t feel forced at all, and was totally believable. There was just a tiny bit of romance, which is just enough for me.
There’s something else that I noticed about this story. It might just be because I just read and reviewed Wingshooters (by Nina Revoyr), but the theme of identity hit home for me. Being half-Korean, half-Filipino, and all-American, I’ve struggled over the years with trying to figure out who I am. It’s not so much being a misfit and not fitting in, but always questioning my nature. My parents even pronounce my name differently, which actually (sort of) comes up in this book. I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but reading Jael’s evolving concept of who–or what–she was really made me think in new ways about being mixed. Even Jael’s abilities relied upon her sense of identity in a way, and it made me feel empowered for a bit.
It’s really hard to boil down this book. There’s so much great stuff. If you like fantasy that’s heavy on the fantasy and mythology and cool magic, I think you’d really like this story. Think Constantine (the movie) meets Percy Jackson (the book) in an awesome and incredibly thoughtful and very well-written package.
Today happens to be the release date, so what are you waiting for? Go grab a copy! I might pick up some for a giveaway. I just have to share the joy…
Review copy provided by Abrams Books via Netgalley.
In Deerhorn, Wisconsin in 1974, Michelle is a half-Japanese ten-year-old who not only suffers racist bullying, but has also effectively been abandoned to live with her grandparents. When an African-American couple moves to town, Michelle watches tensions rise within the community, at once finding kindred in her fellow outsiders and also welcomed into the fold of the community’s leaders, one of whom is her doting grandfather.
I’m going to be honest. (I keep saying that!) You all know by now I love YA. And fantasy. This book is not considered YA, and it’s definitely not fantasy. It is adult literary. However, my thesis professor suggested I read it because it manages to tell an adult story through a young protagonist’s eyes. (Don’t ask me how to tell the difference, I still don’t know!) If she had not mentioned this book, I probably would never have heard of it, let alone picked it up in a bookstore. But I did hear of it, and I’m glad I did.
The writing in this novel is beautiful. And it’s not overwhelmingly beautiful. It’s a subtle beauty that keeps the prose engaging and full of wonderful imagery. There are enough physical details to create a full picture. There are not so many that I grow tired of them. The picture that is painted is one that is pleasing to the eye, if I may say so.
I never thought that the story dragged. There are some parts that moved slower than others, but really, there seemed to be an elegant pacing to the whole thing. There was always a narrative ball in the air, and Revoyr juggled quite a few of them–well–ranging from Michelle’s anxiety over her parents to the quality time she spends with her dog to the retrospective passages that create the feeling of foreboding through the narrative. One thing that I had trouble with was keeping track of the characters. The men sort of blend into one another, but that’s possibly done on purpose. If you read the novel and understand the nature of this community, you’d see why.
Something I love about this novel, and that breaks my heart at the same time, is the theme that a good man, heck, a great, just man will have his flaws. He could possibly be good and terrible at the same time. As I think on this now, isn’t that the nature of evil? Pursuing what one values as good, though it may hurt others? But that discussion would open a whole other can of worms… Anyhow, the point is that even though Michelle’s grandfather is a great man, he is not a perfect man. But I still love him, and Michelle still loves him, because he is an amazing grandfather.
As I said, this book isn’t my usual cup of tea. But I’m always open to trying different flavors, and this happens to be a good, emotional story, well told.
Whew! It’s been a while since I’ve posted. My birthday happened and in addition to getting lost in the heap of publications I’m trying to get published in, I received a nook from one of my wonderful friends. I used to be an old fuddy-duddy when it came to e-readers, but I softened up over the years and now I have my own! (Don’t worry, I’m still madly in love with paper books.) Will show off and review my new little friend in another post. Part of the fun of having an e-reader is the ability to download lots of different samples in the span of minutes. I’ve been jumping from novel to novel but I still have my physical to-read pile to choose from so now I’ve finally stopped playing and browsing long enough to do the important thing–read! I haven’t finished a new book yet, but I have discovered short stories available in e-format. Here are a couple.
Happy Fourth of July, if you celebrate it! If not, happy Monday!
The stories we read and watch usually center around heroes and their journeys and (more often than not) their ultimate triumph over evil. But rarely does a story explore the everyman’s consequences for watching a hero save the day. This story does.
The premise of this story enticed me when I first read it. It’s a very short read, which makes me a bit sad. I’m all for short stories, but I think if it this particular story had been longer, this theme further and more painstakingly explored, the stakes and the emotional impact could have been amped up.
The story is fairly straightforward, told in retrospect. I think my main problem was the lack of tension. There is perhaps a little too much foreshadowing, which led me to predict what would happen. And once I knew the ending, my investment was forced. This workshop issue of the inevitability of an ending comes to mind. My Workshop Self would ask for a way that this story be complicated. At the very least, for the story to use this exciting premise to say something new. Considering that it’s an intriguing, different take on the superhero story, there is so much potential.
Ironically, the hero in this story is a bit of an ass. And not in the way I expected. I give points for how his character influenced the outcome of the event.
All in all, an average read.
A man goes on a walk across a bridge and is haunted by odd visitors and screams.
I enjoyed this story much more than the previous. As I read, I found myself drawn into the suspense of what was happening. Also, I get scared easily and it was night time and even with my lights on, I was a little freaked out. (Yeah, I’m just a scaredy-cat…)
The foreshadowing is better handled in this one. I didn’t mind that I had some inkling as to how it would end. This time it was about how we got there. The reader is right there with the narrator, feeling everything he’s feeling, seeing everything he’s seeing. There’s something to be learned in this example of suspense/horror writing.
I think it could have been a little longer as well as there are some vague questions about the visitors (at least, I have questions about them), but at present, it’s still a nice, quick read.
Cover photos from goodreads.com.
Since she was a baby, the dead and the dying have been drawn to Meridian Sozu. On her sixteenth birthday she is at the scene of a deadly car crash, and her world as she knows it is irrevocably changed. She is separated from her family and sent to live with her aunt, who is also named Meridian. Once our narrator completes the difficult trek there, she learns the truth: she is a Fenestra, a being who helps souls in death, also a being who is being hunted by those with dark agendas.
I’m going to be honest. I have been hauling home tons of books from the library just because of interesting covers or premises, putting them in my summer to-read pile. For some time now, I’ve gotten into the habit of reading the first few lines or even the first page of each book before putting it down to do more pressing things. Even though most of those first glimpses are interesting, when I opened Meridian, I couldn’t put it down until the library closed hours later.
The narration and story are engaging. I am usually resistant when things happen too quickly at the beginning of a story to get the plot going, but I didn’t feel that resistance so much with this book. Perhaps because the premise is so different. I wanted to know more about Meridian’s associations with the dead, and I also cared that these associations brought her so much physical suffering.
Something I admire about this story is the handling of agency. Agency has been a major issue for me in my writing in the past couple of projects, so I’ve been trying to keep an eye out for how it is handled. The role of the Fenestra is fairly passive. I won’t spoil it with details, but they are not angels of death. Their mere presence is the key to helping the dying. And Kizer has managed to give Meridian enough need for struggle against certain happenings related to this role that keeps the Fenestra nature from falling into dangerous writing craft territory. There are external and internal and spiritual issues to be dealt with, which is a very good balance to have.
For how much I enjoyed this book, there are a couple of issues that struck me as well. The romance, though not heavy-handed (thank goodness), doesn’t really feel organic to the story. Meridian does not ruminate on specific physical characteristics to which she is attracted to, which is not bad in itself, but she doesn’t seem attracted to the guy’s personality either. It feels like the relationship blossoms out of the fact that the two are closer in age and together a lot and in danger (a lot). I think this is one level in which more agency might have been helpful.
Another issue is the ending. It feels a little too rushed. I suspected early on the nature of the threat, which may have been purposeful, but there is also little page space devoted to dramatic tension during the pivotal scenes. What happens, happens, and I’m glad it goes down that way, but I don’t really feel invested in those scenes. As a result I’m missing the emotional turns that are being presented to the reader.
Still, despite the issues, I’m leaning toward buying this one, and the sequel (which is due out in mid-July). I’m a huge fan of mythologies and the supernatural and the laws of thermodynamics (you’ll get it if you read the book), and Kizer has done a great job with building a mythology for my mind to play with.