2010 Debut Author Alexandra Bracken‘s novel is the fantasy Brightly Woven.
Official Description: “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.”
Initial Impression: I loved it. I truly enjoyed this book and wanted so much for North and Sydelle. It was a fun read and I would absolutely recommend it. Sydelle and North are both very flawed characters, but very real and their romance a very quiet and gradual one. North steals the story. He reminds me sooo much of Howl in DWJ’s Howl’s Moving Castle, but is very much himself. Stubborn and secretive and damaged. Sydelle is fairly stubborn herself and doesn’t let North get away with everything. I really liked seeing how their opinions of each other changed. This cannot be the end of their story!
Problems? A few. Resolution, world-building, character development, and plot. Some events and aspects of the story were not as fully developed as I would have liked. Greater detail would have cleared up most of the problematic sections. Then there are Sydelle’s abilities, how they work. The magic system is in general not explained. There is little snippets here and there, but not nearly enough to get a good grasp of it. Barely anything about the larger socio-political issues at play, although religious and cultural differences play a large role in the conflict that is supposed to be at the heart of the plot and which would have really enriched this secondary world.
Some parts of the plot were not developed much, or in ways that were less than logical, especially the letters that Sydelle sent back to her village. Her village was taken over and she had just escaped. Exactly how are these letters being delivered? How is she getting replies? That whole situation. *sigh* Also, there was very little urgency or focus given to the war plot, which seems like it would be a very grave concern. Sydelle changes her attitude toward North very suddenly and a more gradual change would be more believable. Same with the romance – a bit more groundwork.
So, now that I have explained the reasons why this would normally receive two stars, probably three, I have gone ahead and given it four. (I was going to give it five, but I could not totally ignore some of the technical aspects and knocked off one.) Because while all these elements might bother you, dear prospective reader, I found that in the end, after all my questions and frustrations, I still had a great time reading this story and it is a story I feel happy to share with others. And best of all, I’d love to hear the rest of their story (and I would love to hear some of North’s POV) and I want to have the chance to see where they go!
Rating : 4 out of 5 Pies
Cover: Beautiful and amazing. Totally fits this book!
Other (more awesome) Reviews ~ Check them out!
Interview with Alexandra at The Enchanted Inkpot
Lastly, anyone interested could sign the petition to Egmont for a sequel!