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Alex Thornbury
The Bridge to Magic
A gripping, award-winning debut for lovers of traditional high fantasy, set in the dying world where humanity is likened to weakness, and the only path to salvation is the same path which might lead to death. The Blight. The end of Mankind. The Bridge that may be salvation or the final betrayal. In this grimdark fantasy, Elika, an orphan on Terren's streets, hates and fears the bridge that spans the great chasm to the Deadlands. Like everyone else, she clings to the hope that purging every lingering echo of magic from the world can stop the Blight. Then she discovers that magic is hiding within her, and through her it seeks to enact the will of its own. Everything Elika knew about her past shatters, as long-buried secrets about her true birth emerge. Accused of being a mage, many doubt her loyalties. Her gang turns against her. The one man she thought she could trust and love, abandons her. Elika must soon decide: Either destroy the magic inside her or cross the bridge to her own uncertain end. But what awaits them in the Deadlands where the enemy of mankind roams wild? Her future or her end? The Bridge to Magic is a story of a life between two deaths and an impossible choice to make. It is a story of finding hope, love and survival in a world where none seems possible.

The Bridge to Magic was my introduction into fantasy novels and it has succeeded in getting me absolutely addicted. I am floored that this is Alex Thornbury's debut book as the storytelling, the dialogue, and the writing are all so rich and fascinating. I was entranced within the first few minutes of reading and for the mere 4 days it took me to devour the whole thing, I spent my days just looking forward to the next time I could sneak in a few more pages. The plot is so complex and cleverly interwoven without being confusing - enough to expertly build a whole world, a whole millenia of time, and yet still able to make us as readers feel satisfied when we put some puzzle pieces together. The characters were brilliant and the dialogue was just awesome. Every time I picked up the book I felt like I was diving into the city of Terren -- Thornbury does such an incredible job at describing details for all senses that you genuinely feel like you're standing on those cobbled streets. I just can't say enough good things about this and I believe that Elika (and Mite, and Bad Penny, and Bill, and Igla, and Anten, and all the tsarens, and even Peter Pockets) will always have a special place in my heart as the story that made me realize how wonderfully transfixing magic can be.

Reader Views

“The Bridge to Magic” is a magnificent high fantasy debut by exciting new author, Alex Thornbury. Dark and foreboding, while equally alluring and addicting—as the first book in The Sundered Web trilogy, Thornbury lays the foundation for an unforgettable journey.

All stories began and ended at the Bridge to Magic. – Chapter One, The Bridge to Magic.

This stunning page-turner revolves around magic, which was banished since the Sundering War, relegated to the Deadlands over 600 years ago. Everyone has heard the stories—everyone hates and fears magic and the bridge to magic. But the Blight is approaching Terren, the last remaining city in this dystopian world, threatening the very existence of humanity, and many are making the choice to cross the bridge. Is it the bridge to suicide or a path to a better life? Some make it across—others turn to dust or fall into the chasm, a fate worse than death. Fear and trepidation heighten and the people of Terren seek to purge every echo of magic from the world, believing it to be the only way to stop the Blight.

Among the citizens of Terren is a teen-aged girl named Elika. Orphaned years ago, she was just a young girl when her parents made the choice to cross the bridge, leaving her behind. Elika’s world and everything she’s ever believed is destroyed when she learns the truth about who she really is and discovers the magic hiding inside her. Elika is faced with dismal choices: does she destroy the magic inside her or cross the bridge where her fate remains uncertain?

I thoroughly enjoyed “The Bridge to Magic.” It’s original, captivating, and readers may be surprised to find this is the author’s debut novel. The storyline is absolutely mesmerizing, and Thornbury has a knack for telling a dark story. And I do mean dark. The despair, the suffering, losing hope—it’s a gloomy formula, and combined with the meticulously drawn settings, Thornbury’s words have the authority to shroud the reader in the eerie gloom that threatens humanity.

“I remember how much brighter the world used to be, full of vigor and color. Now, it’s dull and gray, like a rotting corpse. – Chapter Six, The Bridge to Magic

By contrast there are also moments of courage, possibility, and the power of strength in numbers, fighting not only the magic and the impending Blight, but the oppressive rulers. In spite of, or even because of, the circumstances besetting the people of Terren, many refuse to give up or give in, come what may.

The story hosts an intriguing cast of characters as well, from the scrappy street gangs to the mysterious ethereal beings—even the bridge is a formidable character. I love all the catchy names the author uses for her characters: One-thumb Will, Potter Ned, Rosy Rose, Silky Son, Rusty Pipe, Toothless Jake, Lusty Lucy and so many others—but don’t let these clever names fool you into thinking this is a whimsical read—they just bring a bit of light to glow amid the darkness. Most exciting is the main character, Elika. She really starts coming into her own by the end of the story and I can’t wait to see how she develops in the remainder of the trilogy.

“And she could not help wondering whether magic was truly more evil than men.” – Chapter Twelve, The Bridge to Magic

 “The Bridge to Magic” is suitable for YA and adult audiences. It could easily shine as a YA novel with Elika as the protagonist, though the magic and adventure will appeal to crowds of all ages. Alex Thornbury does a remarkable job with world building and character development and her creativity and imagination shines in this work. I got the impression she thoroughly enjoyed writing this story – it shows. I highly recommend “The Bridge to Magic” and look forward to reading the rest of the trilogy as the story unfolds.


The Book Commentary

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. 

The Prairies Book Review

Expertly crafted and highly readable… Mesmerising. 

A horde of surprizing plot twists and magical intrigue mark Thornbury’s debut installment in The Sundered Web series. With magic and its guardians banished to the deadlands, the Blight is advancing rapidly to destroy the last of mankind. Terren is the last remaining city in its way. Elika, an orphan on Terren’s streets, is merely struggling to stay alive, but when an unfortunate incident reveals the presence of strong magic within her, she is determined to purge every ounce of magic from her body, unaware it’s almost impossible to do so. The third-person omniscient narrative puts readers directly into the characters’ heads, revealing their inner turmoil, doubts, and insecurities. Grappling with the individual angst surrounding identity and self-esteem, Elika also confronts issues of hunger, survival, and bigotry.  The brisk pace helps the plot move along nicely. But the engrossing story ends rather abruptly just as it feels as if Elika’s story is really getting started. Nonetheless, readers will wait eagerly for the next installment in the series.

The Bridge to Magic receives a Royal Dragonfly Book Award

I am excited to share that my debut novel The Bridge to Magic has won the 2022 Royal Dragonfly Book Award for Science Fiction/Fantasy.

The Bridge to Magic receives Reader Views Literary Awards

I am thrilled and honoured to receive multiple Reader Views Literary Awards for my Debut book, The Bridge to Magic.

Overall Grand Prize Winner in Fiction - Silver Medal
Gold Medal – Young Adult Fiction
Silver Medal – Fantasy
The Reader Views Kids Award for Best Teen/YA Book of the Year
Australia Global Award Winner