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Monday, December 26, 2011

Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken

Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken
Fantasy, 354 pages
March 23rd 2010 from EgmontUSA

When Wayland North brings rain to a region that's been dry for over ten years, he's promised anything he'd like as a reward. He chooses the village elder's daughter, sixteen-year-old Sydelle Mirabel, who is a skilled weaver and has an unusual knack for repairing his magical cloaks. Though Sydelle has dreamt of escaping her home, she's hurt that her parents relinquish her so freely and finds herself awed and afraid of the slightly ragtag wizard who is unlike any of the men of magic in the tales she's heard. Still, she is drawn to this mysterious man who is fiercely protective of her and so reluctant to share his own past.

The pair rushes toward the capital, intent to stop an imminent war, pursued by Reuel Dorwan (a dark wizard who has taken a keen interest in Sydelle) and plagued by unusually wild weather. But the sudden earthquakes and freak snowstorms may not be a coincidence. As Sydelle discovers North's dark secret and the reason for his interest in her and learns to master her own mysterious power, it becomes increasingly clear that the fate of the kingdom rests in her fingertips. She will either be a savior, weaving together the frayed bonds between Saldorra and Auster, or the disastrous force that destroys both kingdoms forever.

Brightly Woven was one of those books I found myself inexplicably excited about (there's a wizard named North?!), and as is the case with most books I get randomly excited about, it didn't quite stand up to the pressure.  This isn't to say I didn't like it, because I did.  Just that it suffered a bit from build-up, which left me a little wanting.  But I think most people, especially the younger crowd, would enjoy this, and probably wouldn't be bothered all that much by the little things I just can't let go in life.

 Things sometimes felt incomplete: too easy, too fast, in need of more defined transitions, etc.  It needed a better sense of time, of the length of time, and the struggle and travel.  It would have made everything seem more real and important.  The romance, too, could have been more rounded, with more clearly defined transitions, rather than 'one day we're enemies (or pretending to be) and one day we're soulmates, no discussion needed'.  [At the very least, without getting into spoiler territory, the idea of what Sydelle could do for North should have been addressed more, because that would raise some SERIOUS trust issues.] 

And Sydelle, the main character, was a little petulant and youngish for my tastes. I sometimes wanted to smack her and say "There are more important things!"  This wasn't helped by the fact that throughout the story there was this "Everybody Loves Sydelle" thing going on that had me like NOES.  It's one of my absolute biggest pet peeves to take a girl who's always been "nobody" and then one day have EVERYONE IN THE WORLD seeming to be obsessed with her.  So imagine my surprise when it actually ended up working for the story.  There was actually a purpose and a basis for it, and I ended up giving in and saying, 'Well, okay. Yeah."  (Because I'm eloquent and shit.)

 But the fact is that I did like Sydelle, and I think she does grow throughout their adventure.  And I did like the story, and felt that anything it was lacking in the way of development didn't really hurt it too much.
And, well...I liked North.  Don't know that I should have, but I did.

 It was really enjoyable for the most part, quick and engaging, and I enjoyed the world building quite a bit, despite any flaws.  It had the added (unexpected) bonus of actually surprising me a few times.  There were some revelations that I either wasn't expecting, or were more than I was expecting, which always makes me happy.  I would love to dig in a bit more and explore Sydelle's reaction to one revelation in particular, and though I'm pretty sure this is a stand-alone, I can see room to build it into a series.  And I'm sure with time and experience, any deficiencies (that I forever feel the need to mercilessly pick apart) in the writing will be smoothed over as the very young Alexandra Bracken grows into her story telling scope.


  1. I super loved this one - I can't wait for Alex Bracken's next book :)

  2. I really liked Brightly Woven but sort of felt like the ending didn't provide enough closure for me.

    And I really liked Sydelle and North too!

  3. Bummer you didn't enjoy it as much as you wanted to!

    It has been long enough since I read it that I don't remember a lot of details...I just remember enjoying it and loving the characters.

  4. You won me over with the phrase, "because I'm eloquent and shit." You now have a die-hard follower. LOL.

    -S.M. Boyce
    Author of The Grimoire: Lichgates
    "Once you open the Grimoire, there is no going back. The adventure will be worth every hardship…if you survive.
    Snag your copy now!
    Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords

  5. I agree with all of your comments. Despite the flaws, I liked this book a lot and am really excited for her new novel (previously called BLACK IS THE COLOR but I can't for the life of me think of the new title now. It's been this title to me for so long now...).

    I always say her fantasy style is the same as Kristin Cashore and Leah Cypess :)


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