Sunday, July 25, 2010

Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken

Summary (courtesy of 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.

And here's what I thought:  I had seen some reviews of this book,and had ordered for our library, but it took a while for me to actually find it on the shelf (because it was always checked out).   I took this as a sign of a good book, and now that I've read it, I can definitely say it was worth waiting for.    As you can see from the summary, this book has magic in it, but it's really about a young woman's discovery of who she really is, and what she does with that knowledge.   Sydelle is a strong heroine, and she's going to be nobody's pawn (even though there are a lot of people who would like her to be just that).    There's adventure in this story, and a bit of romance, and there are some interesting things to think about.    For example, in this story, Bracken makes magic something to be respected.   As one of the characters explains, "...magic is a responsibility, a burden, a duty.  You are a slave to your faith and country.  You don't choose to have it.  Very few of us would, given the choice."    This is an interesting concept; usually, in stories, magic is something wonderful, and potentially, a lot of fun.  Or something powerful and dangerous that people want to have.   It does seem at first like Sydelle has much to do with magic.... and then story goes on and we learn a little more.   The revelation that she has about herself is one of the high points in the book (at least it was for me). 

In addition to our main character, Sydelle, there is also the young wizard, Wayland North.   He's a mystery unto himself, and the reader is only allowed small glimpses into what his story really is, and what he may be hiding about himself.   The development of the relationship between Sydelle and North is done so smoothly, that I kept reading just because I really wanted things to work out between the two of them.   ah, romance....    But it's realistic; it isn't always easy for them to get along, and he doesn't necessarily sweep her off her feet and solve all of her problems in one grand gesture.  As I said, Sydelle is a strong character, with a will of her own, and she's going to make her own destiny.   I enjoyed that while their relationship drove this story, I didn't feel like Sydelle was overshadowed by North.

And speaking of relationships, I really liked how the author worked Sydelle's weaving into the story.   If I say Alexandra Bracken wove together several interesting elements to make this layered story, it sounds like a pun.   But, Sydelle's skills as a weaver are important to the story.   The idea of pulling together threads and colors, and creating a beautiful design are just the way a good story is written.   And, weaving is a practical talent to have, as well -- Sydelle can repair cloth, or make cloth from scratch.   This whole repairing/creating comes into play with her relationship with North, as well.   

This story is beautifully written, with memorable characters.  There's danger and adventure, and a great story, with a nice resolution at the end.   This isn't a spoiler, really --- just be prepared that this is a complete story all by itself -- no cliffhanger to leave you stuck, waiting for resolution.  I liked that -- I read enough series as it is, and it's nice to have a completed story in one book.    I'm looking forward to seeing what this author brings us next. 

Other bloggers have very well-written reviews of this book, if you'd like to take a look:


Katelyn said...

Great review, glad you liked it I was a huge fan of this one and it quickly became one of my favorites this year!

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