In all four corners of the world, people are about to die. Every moment, someone’s struggle comes to an end. But suddenly, death stops. No one can die, even those with mortal wounds. All of the citizens in the Kingdom of Lethe are perplexed and terrified. Battles rage on, assassinations fail spectacularly, and the elderly continue suffering past their time. Then Death himself arrives and asks for his Cobweb Bride. Only once his bride is found will death resume and the kingdom return to normal. But with no sign of the Cobweb Bride and no hints on where to find her, how will the citizens restore normality to their lives?
Cobweb Bride is a crowd-funded phenomenon by the award-winning author Vera Nazarian. This, plus the concept of the story, had me immediately sold, and I was very eager to read this book.
This book feels unlike anything I’ve read that’s been traditionally published at the moment. It reminded me most of books that I used to read as a child, when fantasy was paramount. The descriptions are incredibly evocative and the world described, though derived from medieval Europe, feels different and special. I could picture the thin, sickly Infanta and the rosy group of girls headed off to find out if one of them was the Cobweb Bride. I could feel the cold seeping into the bones of those who should have died. I could see the royal court and the forests. For someone who isn’t a visual reader, I found this remarkable and really well done.
I also loved the concept. Nazarian doesn’t stop at the end of death for humans; animals and plants can’t die, either. This means that even food supplies are threatened, and by the middle of the book people have to rely on food that’s already dead. She envisions what happens in a body that continues working even after all the elements that make us alive have gone. It’s eerie but really thought through. And some of the conflicts that arise within the story are solely based on this, because supposedly dead people are still alive. The relations between an assassin and the person he would have successfully killed were my favorite part of the book.
Where the book falls down a bit is the way the plot is laid out. It’s a very good story, don’t get me wrong, but the beginning seems to last for a long time. Nazarian very carefully sets the scene for the rest of the book, but as a result it feels like it takes a while to get going. We’ve realized that death has stopped coming after the first two stories, so there is no further surprise factor, it’s just setting up the different storylines to interact in the rest of the book. Once those four storylines are set, I felt the book sped up considerably and I remained spellbound by the story.
Cobweb Bride ends with a lot left open, as it’s the first in a trilogy. I for one will definitely be looking forward to the next, Cobweb Empire, which is released next week on September 25th! Recommended to those who really enjoy fantasy.
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