To Hold the Bridge: An Old Kingdom Novella and Other Tales

416p. HarperCollins/Harper. Jun. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062292520; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780062292544.
Gr 9 Up—In this excellent collection with crossover appeal, Nix truly displays his storytelling chops. He begins with an Old Kingdom novella that lends the collection its name, in which a penniless youth takes his place as a cadet in the The Worshipful Company of the Greenwash & Field Market Bridge. Nix also includes stories set in the worlds of his Shade's Children (1997) and A Confusion of Princes (2012, both HarperCollins). Other familiar names appear here, including Holmes, John Carter of Mars, and even Hellboy. Many of these tales reside in the murky borderlands between fantasy and horror while others embrace science fiction tropes. There are deadly serious stories and others that are offbeat. One entire section is devoted to coming-of-age tales that feature characters as diverse as a shy LARPer to two young ladies working their way through a college for witches. Another highlights tales of conflict including Nix's take on the sword in the stone and Richelieu-era Paris. Nix's talents for characterization, description, and plotting render each story in this work a pleasure to read.
VERDICT Readers of speculative fiction, whether teens or adults, should find much to enjoy in this collection.

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