Monday, August 2, 2010

Brightly Woven

Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken
Egmont, 2010
354 pages
YA; Fantasy; Romance
3.5/5 stars

Source: Received via 1 ARC Tour

Summary: Sydelle has wanted to leave her home town all her life but she didn't want to be forced in to it as happens when wizard Wayland North brings rain to her drought-stricken town and asks for her in payment. They are bound together on a journey to prevent war in their kingdom and also to unravel the truth about themselves.

Thoughts: I usually try to write my reviews in paragraphs but I had trouble writing this one so I'm going to break it down in to components:

Characters: Sydelle was, to be perfectly honest, a little annoying until I reminded myself that she was supposed to be 16. She is actually quite strong, determined, and smart. I admired her weaving ability which is an important thread (hehe) in the story. Then there is Wayland North, the 18-year old wizard, who sometimes seemed much older due to all of the pain and suffering he's endured. Two other intriguing characters are North's friend Owain and villain Dorwan. Owain is a friendly gent who's maybe a little too in to his horse and Dorwan is a terrifying rogue wizard who chases after Sydelle.

Romance: While Sydelle falls for North, I actually mostly liked her childhood sweetheart Henry. If she was less restless and ambitious, they probably would have made a good couple in their home town (Note I'm not dinging her for wanting to leave; I'm just stating that those qualities would make them an unsuccessful couple.) Whereas with North, sometimes he is so loving and teasing, other times he is mean and cruel due to his angst over his curse.

Fantasy: In this world, there are a very few people who are wizards and there are interesting discussions of magic and its rights and responsibilities. North has a curse on him, which his father also had and his male children would have, provided he begat any. This curse causes him agonizing pain and has turned him inward and bitter. Dorwan provides an example of a wizard who uses his magic solely for his own good and without any thought to how it might affect other people.

Mystery: There is some mystery in this book such as who murdered the king? The answer to this is why North has to travel through the country. Why pick Sydelle? How can North lift his curse? I can't answer these questions without spoiling the book and the answers aren't revealed until toward the end.

Politics: This plays a pretty small role as in the capital, there are the dueling agendas of the wizards who have been chafing under the rule of the monarch and the newly widowed young queen who has little experience. They each have to use whatever they can get their hands on in order to gain preeminence.

Religion: I was uncomfortable with the religious aspects of this. In that world, there are at least two rival goddesses mentioned (not sure if there are more in this universe). I appreciated the critique of religion, as Sydelle realizes that the other people are just like her and in fact believe many of the same things. We are all humans and the Golden Rule is a pretty good guideline for life for everyone. I also appreciated her faithfulness to her religion and her struggle to understand but whenever she prayed to someone who wasn't my Christian God, it made me uncomfortable. This is very much a personal thing and I'm sure other people wouldn't bat an eye.

Ending: There is definitely room for a sequel and I would be interested in reading one.

Overall: While I mostly enjoyed each element, this book did not quite click for me.

Cover: I received an Advance Uncorrected Proof and the color on it was funky although the design was the same but I like the official cover.


  1. This is a great review! I like it that you divided it into components. Clearly, this books covers many aspects, so your way of reviewing makes things very clear for me. This seems to be an interesting read, although nothing striking. If I see this book in a library, I will borrow it. I have seen it before, so I am slightly curious, especially after your review. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I liked this one - I thought she did a great job with her world-building and Syd grew on me in the end. Great review!

    Teens Read and Write

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