To Hold the Bridge by Garth Nix

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Allen & Unwin, 2015. ISBN 9781743316559
(Age: 13+) Highly recommended. Short stories. Fantasy. Science fiction. This is an intriguing collection of short stories that will be sure to beguile fans of Garth Nix, of whom I am one. It is a mixture of fantasy, science fiction, horror, vampires and even has a murder mystery to solve. The stories are gathered under the following headings: Creatures of Darkness and Light, Standing up to be Counted, Check your faint heart at the door, A wink and a nod and Under other skies.
The highlight of the collection is the first in the book and a novella from the Old Kingdom, To hold the bridge, and will be eagerly read by people who love the Abhorsen series. The young protagonist, Morghan, has been left a share certificate in the Bridge Company and desperately wants to work as a guard. He is a diffident young man, easy to like and when danger threatens, he has to overcome his fears and defend the bridge from invaders. I really enjoyed this and it is one that I will return to, to reread about loyalty, courage and overcoming odds.
Vampire weather is Nix's nod to the obsession with vampires in some young adult fiction and it is frightening and very thought provoking. Amos belongs to a closeted community that won't allow modern medicine including vaccinations against vampire bites, and the only freedom that he is allowed, is to go to the road to collect the mail. One day he meets a young girl there and even though he is not supposed to talk to any women or girls, she strikes up a conversation with him. I cannot put in any more information without adding spoilers - this is one that must be read to fully enjoy the surprises and dilemmas that Nix provides. Another one with vampires at its core is Infestation, equally poignant and heart stopping.
This is a great collection to read from cover to cover and the twists in the stories make them very memorable. It also would be a good book to have to dip into for moments when a reader wants something short, interesting, and unique to read or to read aloud in a class.
Pat Pledger