Review | Windborn – Alex S. Bradshaw

About the Book

Drowning is only the beginning… 

Edda Gretasdottir is a raider, a fell-handed shield-maiden, feared along every coast. Hers is a life woven in battle scars.

But she never wanted to walk the warrior’s path. All she wanted was freedom, to earn enough gold to buy her family their own remote farm, and to escape their oppressive chieftain. Now, she has enough plunder so that she can finally hang up her shield and live in peace.

That peace is stolen from Edda, however, when raiders burn her home, destroy all that she loves, and toss her, wounded and bleeding, into the ravenous ocean.

But the fates are cruel and this is not the end for Edda: she rises from the bloody surf as a Windborn, a cursed warrior whose supernatural gifts are a poor exchange for everything she has lost.

Fuelled by rage and armed with strange new powers Edda will hunt for whoever sent the raiders, for whoever is responsible for taking everything from her. She will show them the sharp edge of her axe… or die trying.

Windborn is a dark, character-driven Norse fantasy packed with emotion, deadly foes, and vicious battles.

Publishing on April 28, 2021
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I was the editor of this book. 

I’ve been trying to decide when the best time to talk about this book is, and I think I’ve decided it’s now, because I’m tired of not talking about it. 

Before I get into this review, you need to know something. Reader, I edited Windborn, so I am a bit biased in what I think about it. Keep that in mind. I truly love my job, and I truly want all of my authors to succeed. I like to shout about their books when they are coming out, so all of you can know how amazing they are, as well.

Windborn is Alex S. Bradshaw’s first book. I knew when I saw the few pages, I wanted in on this project. I am not hugely into Norse mythology, but every now and again, a Norse-inspired epic fantasy will come along that will just wow me. This was one such book. Once I saw the first few pages, I knew this one was something really special, and I’d do just about anything to get in on a project that looks this promising. 

So, with a deal struck, Alex sent me the manuscript and I started working. 

The first thing I noticed was the prose. Bradshaw has a way with writing that is descriptive with an edge of lyrical that I loved. The scenery came to life, but more, so did the emotions. In fact, that was one of my favorite parts of this book. It’s impossible to not feel. Edda is a character that is full of passion, and that passion can take many different forms throughout the book, but it is always there. You’ll ride her highs, and you’ll feel her lows. She’s not someone you sit back and enjoy from a distance. Edda is someone you experience. She got right in my blood and started haunting me. More real than real, she was an absolutely stunningly crafted character.

If you know anything about me, you’ll know that my favorite books are the ones that make me feel, and this book actually had me wiping away tears in a few parts. It isn’t often that a book I’m editing makes me cry, and when that happens, I tend to really savor the moment.

I have a speech I give the authors I work with a lot. Picture a big chasm. You have the writer on one side, and the reader on the other. The writer’s job is to build a bridge with their story, so somehow the two can meet in the middle. Sometimes, a truly special book will come along and the writer will build a bridge, and instead of meeting in the middle, the reader just walks over to the writer’s side of the chasm and camps there. Those are the special books. Those are the books that live, and breathe both on and off the page.

Those are the books like Windborn.

Edda is an interesting character with an unforgettable narrative voice, due, largely, to what she has to endure. Bradshaw takes you into the book on a high. Riding all of Edda’s hopes and dreams, feeling her burning love for her husband, and the promise in her future. Then, something happens, and all of that changes. In a blink, she loses literally everything. While she tries to make her way through her grief, you see her determination and feel her pain. Then, another tragedy strikes and she loses even more. She loses things she doesn’t even know she had. Everything changes, and Edda has to tap into a new, heretofore undiscovered well of strength. 

From this point on (which is pretty early in the book), Edda’s story changes. Edda becomes Windborn, or a cursed warrior with supernatural abilities who is, essentially, a sort of slave. Determined to strike back at the people who cost her so much, she ends up embroiled in a struggle she never saw coming, with her own thirst for vengeance powering her. Again, you see Bradshaw’s power for prose, not just in description, but in Edda’s emotions, the constant tug-of-war she has with herself, her struggle to find her own reason to keep going in a world that no longer feels like her own, being a stranger in her own skin.

I seriously, seriously felt for Edda. Her story touched every part of me, and it was impossible to not feel torn apart as I read not only about her outer journey but her inner one as well. I think Bradshaw did an incredible job balancing the two, never skipping over one to highlight the other. In summation, this book is as much about the internal as the external, and I absolutely loved it for that. 

There is a lot of action in Windborn, as you’d expect from a book based on a bunch of warriors. Some of it is unpredictable. I’m about 99% sure I cursed him eternally for some plot twists I didn’t see coming. There were some parts that were brutal and made me shrink back a bit. The ending is bittersweet and perfect for the story being told. Friends, the ending made me feel that burning deep inside, that sort of keening, hollow ache. Why? Because it was over, and I just wasn’t ready yet. I’m still not ready, truthfully. I want to go back and read this book for the first time all over again. I want to experience the highs and lows of Edda’s tale with eyes that have never seen it. 

It’s the kind of book that amazed me so much, it took a long, long time for me to move past it. In fact, I edited this book months ago, and I still find myself thinking about it. Just the other day, I was cooking dinner and the random thought, “I wonder what Edda is doing right now” popped into my head. I mean, that’s how real this book was. I edited it, and I lived it, and I breathed it, and now I’m still not quite okay with it being over. 

In fact, Alex Bradshaw, I think you and I need to have a conversation, because I need more of this series, and I will do just about anything to be the person to edit it. I’m putting that out there in the world, because that’s, right now, what I want to get out of it. 

This book is truly special, and I honestly cannot wait for all of you to experience the surreal, incredible, wild ride that is Windborn

Windborn releases on April 28. Right now you can pre-order it for $.99. I suggest you do that, because it is important to support authors (pre-orders are how you hug an author without invading their personal space). It’s also important because this book truly is amazing, and I really want it to explode on the charts. 

Alex Bradshaw is an author you need to watch. 

Alex, I need to read the next book. Like, yesterday. 

5/5 stars