Title: Brightly Woven
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Page Count: 368 pages
Genre: fantasy, romance, young adult
Copy for review provided by One Arc Tours in anticipation of an honest review
50 words or less: Too hard! From Goodreads: Sydelle Mirabil is living proof that, with a single drop of rain, a life can be changed forever. Tucked away in the farthest reaches of the kingdom, her dusty village has suffered under the weight of a strangely persistent drought. That is, of course, until a wizard wanders into town and brings the rain with him.
In return for this gift, Wayland North is offered any reward he desires—and no one is more surprised than Sydelle when, without any explanation, he chooses her. Taken from her home, Sydelle hardly needs encouragement to find reasons to dislike North. He drinks too much and bathes too little, and if that isn’t enough to drive her to madness, North rarely even uses the magic he takes such pride in possessing. Yet, it’s not long before she realizes there’s something strange about the wizard, who is as fiercely protective of her as he is secretive about a curse that turns his limbs a sinister shade of black and leaves him breathless with agony. Unfortunately, there is never a chance for her to seek answers.
Along with the strangely powerful quakes and storms that trace their path across the kingdom, other wizards begin to take an inexplicable interest in her as well, resulting in a series of deadly duels. Against a backdrop of war and uncertainty, Sydelle is faced with the growing awareness that these events aren’t as random as she had believed—that no curse, not even that of Wayland North, is quite as terrible as the one she herself may carry.
Sigh. I've been on the list to read Brightly Woven for this tour for a long time and am happy to say that this book was well worth the wait. The story was interesting, the romance was sweet, the setting was fun, and the experience of reading the book was like finding an opened box of Bomb Pops in the freezer on the hottest day of the summer.
Brightly Woven is simultaneously a story of magic, mayhem, political intrigue, history, religion, and two young people falling in love. Sydelle is abruptly removed from her home after a rainstorm and a wizard arrive at the same time. Her drought-ridden village is saved from the brink of one extinction and almost immediately thrust in the path of another; Sydelle is completely unwilling to go with North, the wizard, but does so anyway, and starts down the path of an adventure that she could never have conceived of otherwise.
Sydelle is a magic-worker in her own right- she's a great weaver and her skills come in very useful throughout the book. She finds herself reluctantly falling for North, especially when she finds out he's hiding some secrets of his own. It takes her a long time to warm up to him and he certainly doesn't always help his cause, but ultimately he's a very vulnerable person who's not used to people he cares about sticking around. I thought this book had a very interesting twist on the traditional "damsel in distress," as Sydelle's hero could use some serious armor polish. And possibly a bath.
The story in Brightly Woven moves at a good pace, and the twists and turns of the plot, while not exactly coming out of left field, are timed well and keep the reader interested. The ending of the book was sweet and believable, and addressed the characters' feelings in a way that felt right, but not too sweet or overdone. I think Brightly Woven would be an excellent way to introduce younger readers, especially girls, to fantasy novels without bogging them down with something boring or lame. A lot of fantasy novels could stand some paring down or streamlining; there isn't anything here that I wish were different.
Overall Grade: A
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