ARC Review: The Bridge by Rachel Lou

When We Collided by Emery Lord

Publication: June 2nd 2016 by Harmony Ink Press

Format: eBook Pages: 224

ISBN13: 9781634768832

Everett Hallman might not be the world’s most powerful witch, but he does his part by helping wayward souls find their way to the beyond. Then a feeling Everett can’t explain lures him away from the magical woods near his house, to a local martial arts school. There, he is intrigued when he uncovers remains left by supernatural beings of enormous power, and he cannot resist looking into the mystery. Everett learns he is a Bridge Master: a witch capable of passing into different spirit realms, but his revelation comes with a new set of problems. First, the powerful witch instructing him disappears, and then he notices something strange about his attractive new friend from the martial arts studio. Worst of all, Everett’s reserves of spell-casting energy continue to deplete. Only one thing is certain—Everett cannot turn his back on this puzzle until he gets some answers.’ – Netgalley

I was about to start this off by saying The Bridge was my first LGBT+ book, but that’s not true, I read Maurice by E.M. Forster earlier this year (intriguing novel, I’d recommend it in a flash). But The Bridge was my first LGBT+ fantasy novel. I really love fantasy.

The Bridge is written in the third person perspective of teenage witch, Everett, who lives alone with his grandfather because his parents are dead (though he doesn’t believe this). The fantasy aspect of this book was a mix of Ghost Whisperer meets The Originals. Everett, usually under the watchful eye of his grandfather, helps souls transition from the living world to the afterlife. He relies on the use of salt as a means to perform magic because he’s too weak to cast spells without it and hybrids show up around halfway through the story.

Usually, I’m picky about romance in books. I avoid the genre entirely because I know, more often than not, it will drive me insane. It’s not because I don’t like romance, I love it. But I hate it when it’s thrown into a story distastefully or unnecessarily. If a plot can function well without a romantic angle it’s because the romantic angle isn’t adding anything, so either fix it or cut it out entirely and focus on making other aspects of the story shine, *rant over*. Weirdly enough, the issue with The Bridge was the opposite.

I felt like the relationship between Everett and Bryce was beautifully stitched together. It wasn’t rushed, it wasn’t unrealistic, exaggerated or weird, it was natural. I enjoyed seeing their romance flourish and thought the writer did an excellent job at portraying two young adults developing feelings for each other. The texts they sent back and forth to each other and the awkward moments were insanely cute.

However, the fantasy aspects of the book weren’t as strong as the romance. I felt like a lot of things weren’t explained well enough, and this made the story weak. For example, we’re made aware that there are other magical creatures or there’s some ‘danger’ around the forest at night, but what that danger is or what other creatures exist in the living world isn’t made clear. The whole hybrid entry was also very sudden and unexplained. We’re told there are hybrids, but more detail could have been given about their nature and existence. The Bridge is a short book, and I felt a lot of things were skimmed over to keep it short. Perhaps some of these issues can be addressed and explained in more detail in a sequel.

Regarding character development, I really liked Bryce and I LOVED Buzz the jellyfish. Buzz is Everett’s familiar (witchy spirit pet thing), I kept imagining him as the jellyfish from Finding Nemo. Everett’s character was okay, but I got annoyed with the frequent repetition throughout the story of how weak he was. A part of me may have read into this a bit too much because I felt like he was being associated with weakness as a way to effeminate him. I get saying he’s weak because he’s practically a witch newbie at the start of the story but it was repeated on almost every page, his weakness practically defined his character. When I think Everett, I think weak. See the problem? It’s nice to have a main witch character who is flawed and isn’t some kind of over-skilled God, but it’s off-putting when that weakness is thrown at the reader’s face all the time.

I liked The Bridge, but I didn’t love it because I felt like it was missing the detail required to tie it all together. However, the book has gotten me interested in exploring LGBT+ fiction a bit more because it looks like the writers do a better job at romance!

I received a copy of The Bridge from the publisher for an honest review.