The Tangled Bridge
by Rhodi Hawk
Cover Artist: Photo: Tim Fitzharris/Minder Pictures/Getty Images (bayou)
Michael Wimmerholt /Getty Images (skull)
Review by Mel Jacob
Tor Books Trade Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765324979
Date: 30 October 2012 List Price $14.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Rhodi Hawk is not a writer for everyone. Her complex tale is as much atmospheric as a twisted family tale that winds through the narrative. Roughly half of those reading and commenting on the first novel were confused. A number found it uninteresting. For those into Southern gothic, the series offers a feast: interesting complex characters, several generations, and a heroine who wants to save the best of the family. The use of patios and dialect adds color, but won't help clarity for some. Too, much of the story deals with an underclass of down and outers, giving it a gritty feel.
Two distinct periods of time, the 1930s and the present, intertwine to reveal the family history and the challenges its members face. The first novel, the Twisted Ladder, began the saga as Madeleine LeBlanc, a professor at Tulane University, delves into her family's history and its power to see things others cannot. The power can be used for good or evil, but temptation is strong for some, especially her grandmother and one uncle. The family suicide rate is high.
The second novel, the Tangled Bridge, begins with Madeleine seeking someone in trouble and finding a corpse. Her talent tells her a boy and his mother are the ones needing help, finding them is not easy. The boy is special and holds the key to the future. The forces of evil, especially her grandmother Chloe and her uncle Zenon, want to destroy the boy. Madeleine must fight her own relatives to save him.
The family has the ability to control the minds of others, to foresee future events, and work with the river devils to enhance their abilities, but also to risk madness.
Like the first novel, the Tangled Bridge ends, but doesn't conclude. Real dangers remain. Madeleine becomes the metaphor of a bridge between the real world and the briar where some become lost to the river spirits and haunts and never find the way back to the real world.
Readers looking for spooky atmosphere, Southern gothic, and a bit of horror will find much in this series. For those readers, it may become a cult classic. Tor has listed the book as a thriller. Others will prefer less gritty books.