by Alexandra Bracken
pub: March 2010/Egmont
Just as the rains come after ten long, dry years, a young wizard, Wayland North, appears, to whisk Sydelle Mirabil away from her desert village. north needs an assistant, and Sydelle is eager to see the country - and join him on his quest to stop the war that surely will destroy her home.
But North has secrets - about himself, about why he chose Sydelle, about his real reasons for the journey. What does he want from her? And why does North's sworn enemy seem fascinated by Sydelle himself?
Brightly Woven weaves a delicious, exciting adventure with characters that hook you from the start.
Sydelle is a clever heroine who gets taken care of as well as cares for others. Bracken does a nice job of balancing her out. At times she’s the damsel in distress, but at others she takes charge and saves her man, or the kingdom. She has a keen intelligence, and desire to learn and she puts both to good use.
Wayland is endearing, exuding strength and determination to do the right thing and overcome his demons, and at times he’s just plain funny. He's an appealing love interest who takes care of Sydelle but also sees her strength and lets her run the show when the need arises. She mends his magical cloaks, cares for him when he isn’t physically able, has a better sense of direction, and starts making his potions and elixirs.
While the “hate you” soon turns into “like and respect you” and then grows into “love you,” theirs is always a wonderful partnership. I loved the way the relationship developed. It was cute and managed to exude sexy without being overly steamy.
But the romance didn’t overtake the story which at it’s heart is a great adventure as Sydelle and Wayland travel a perilous path in order to fulfill their quest and keep the kingdom from a devastating war. Danger, intrigue, dastardly foes, betrayal, conflict at every turn, magical curses and surprise twists keep the plot moving along at an exciting pace.
Magically enchanting, great secondary characters, a delightful romance – it’s creative and imaginative. The excellent writing flows beautifully providing vivid description that brings the world alive without being overly written and bogged down with boring details.
A couple of negatives would be that her parents just give her up to some strange guy. It all turns out okay but they don’t know that he isn’t some serial killing pervert when they bid her farewell. And while Sydelle is upset at first, later on she seems to have forgotten what jerks they were and wants to visit her ‘wonderful’ folks. There’s also this thing with the queen completely betraying her and then once again, Sydelle seems to forget that the woman threw her to the wolves and they’re all chummy.
But these were minor problems in a story that engaged me from the start. No sex or language and mild violence makes this a wonderful novel for older and younger teens. I’m not usually into straight fantasy but I found Brightly Woven to be a captivating read.
The Cover: The girl’s face looks a bit odd to me but I love the rest of it with the lightning and natural elements.