I am a long-term fan of David Bridger’s writing, as you might recall from previous reviews of his work. Storywalker marks his second debut, this time as an indie author, and as much as any of his previous works, is a wonderful tale full of complex characters and world building. Even more so, Bridger once again provides unlikely heroes and a non-traditional approach to what could have been a simple story in another author’s hands.
Storywalker has a large cast drawn from four separate worlds and many different races, both human and not. The two main characters are Molly, the storywalker with a much more complicated history she is unaware of, and Paul, a successful fantasy novelist…or so he thought. Molly also suffers from ME, a debilitating and potentially fatal disease that strips her energy and punishes her with crippling pain.
A disabled protagonist has been done before, but Bridger doesn’t let Molly get away with dismissing her illness. There are times when her storywalking leads her to leave her body behind, but not always. Managing her condition is a key component of the story, and her love and appreciation toward those who help her do so is wonderful. She could easily have become embittered and miserable. Instead, she carries with her a love of reading, a strong heart, and a willingness to help even with a full understanding of the costs.
Paul is a little more complex. He’s a nice guy with a few odd quirks who has not been able to put the loss of his wife, many years before, behind him to the point that he’s ready to move forward. His fortune came from his popular epic fantasy series, but where he’d promised ten books, the death of his wife and the way the final book wrapped up has kept that well dry for long enough that all but his most faithful fans have moved on to other story worlds.
We’ve barely met these two characters when their worlds are turned upside down. Paul discovers he has a twin brother, but more, his books have been a memoir of his brother’s life in a parallel universe. Molly discovers she can do more than lose herself in her favorite books…she can become part of the story.
The rest of the book occurs in the worlds of Paul’s novels. There, Molly and Paul go about on their own adventures, only crossing a couple of times. They meet all sorts of interesting people from a variety of backgrounds and worlds while going to fantastic places where they both find help and offer it.
This is not a children’s novel based on the language and some of the references, but at the same time, it has an almost childlike humor at points that can provoke a giggle just when I thought there was nothing left to laugh about. Just wait until you meet Bryn and his donkey (I have a soft spot for donkeys myself, so this was precious). The demons are complex people with different views and aims as much as any human or daemon character. The heroes in the traditional sense (as opposed to the leads) are not perfect while beauty is very much in the eye of the beholder rather than conforming to social norms, making the descriptions even more compelling.
Storywalker is a compelling blend of epic fantasy, tragedy, comedy, and even commentary on events in our modern world while even unrepentant troublemakers can have a change of heart in the right circumstances. I enjoyed my time with Molly and the rest. The book leaves me with a smile and a sense that there is hope even though there were moments of darkness and tears. It is well worth the read.
P.S. I received this book from the author in return for an honest review.