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Bridge of Dreams by Anne Bishop – review
Bridge of Dreams was, for me, a pretty long-awaited book from Anne Bishop. The novel that got me started reading her was the first Ephemera book, Sebastian, and Ephemera remains my favorite of her worlds. There is just something about the fractured world and only being able to reach the pieces which resonate with you that, well, resonates with me. After Belladonna was published I was bummed to learn Bishop had no plans to revisit Ephemera any time soon. I’m sure I was far from the only fan of the series who sqealed with delight at the news that she was going to go back to it and finally give us Lee’s story.
Overall I really liked Bridge of Dreams, but, as with almost all of Bishop’s books, I found myself loving the set-up but wanting just a little something else in the execution.
The smartest choice Bishop made was to remove Lee from the familiar environment and the social scene we all knew from the first two books. He was a great sidekick, but for the story to be truly his story, he had to go out on his own and find a new part of the world. The early conflicts with Belladonna and Michael felt forced, and his method of finding a new world–casting his sister from his heart–and the reason he did it proved those conflicts were superficial in nature. So I’m not sure why they were there, other than perhaps to explain why Lee didn’t try to get back to his sister’s landscapes as soon as he could.
I am torn about what to call the coolest part of the new landscape he found, the City of Vision itself or the race of “demons” who are tethered, oh, so precariously, to the side of it. I can’t quite recall if it would be a spoilder to discuss their nature in any detail, but on the chance it is Iwon’t say anything more specific about them than that they were a really unique kind of being and wildly creative. And Bishop handled them really well–they were the sort of characters who would either be the best people on stage or cause the story to fail, and I’m glad she managed to pull them off.
The story itself was much less of a love story than I was expecting based on the other two books. That plot thread is there, but it’s not really the main storyline, and it is not resolved until the very end (where in the other two books the love story was resolved and then the bigger plot was resolved).
I think the biggest quibble I had with the book was how little it focused on Lee’s magic. I am fascinated by the workings of Ephemera, and since Belladonna and Michael are both landscapers rather than bridges, I’d have liked to learn more about what Lee does. Instead I really didn’t get a deeper sense of being a bridge than I had already.
Is this book suitable for someone who has not read any of the other Ephemera books? Absolutely. It’s a standalone story, and the pertinent events of the previous books (plus a few others) are given in a quick summary when the need arises (which personally always annoys me as a reader, because, yo, I read the other books, but does make new stories accessible to new-to-the-world readers). I think it’s a good introduction to Ephemera, even if you don’t get quite the sense of it being a fractured world that the other books give. I enjoyed it, even if it wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for.