Thursday, October 28, 2010

Review: Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken

GoodReads Summary: 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.

My Thoughts: Picture me, circa 1998, on Christmas morning. My parents hand me a gift. It's rectangular and I feel my heart start to beat faster because I know exactly what it is. I tear through the wrapping paper and my gleeful suspicions are confirmed:


Cue monumental squee like no 13-year-old had ever squeed before. I fell into a zombie-like state for the next month that was only paused for my hand to find the bag of Baked Lays BBQ chips. Link was awesome. Zelda was awesome. Hyrule was awesome. I was completely enraptured and invested in the story and felt a sense of longing and sadness when it was over.

Where is this going, you psychotic, tangential weirdo? you might ask.

Well, I'm trying to tell you that enveloping myself in Brightly Woven was like enveloping myself in the world of Hyrule, but with a whole lot more wizards! Not that these stories have multitudes of similarities, but the feeling was there. Nothing else existed when I was reading this book. I felt nostalgic and magical and tip-toed around each page because I had no idea where Ganondorf, er, Dorwan would show up next. And get this: THERE WAS NO WATER TEMPLE!

Sydelle, like Link, lives in a small village with a few acquaintances here and there. She mostly minds her own business and is well-to-do and happy in her own little corner of the world.

Enter Wayland North, a wizard who scoops her up out of nowhere and is like, "hey, you and me are taking off, kay?" And then they do. I knew right off the bat that I was going to like North. He's got a few quips up his sleeve and sure, he's flawed. He's got a bit of a drinking problem and isn't too proud to stumble around making a fool of himself. Ohhh, but North has a dark secret. And I do love my endlessly flawed characters with dark secrets.

Sydelle and North's story unfolded rather rocky-like. Sydelle was not a North fan whatsoever. He took her away from her family and her comfort zone with zero explanation. I'd be feeling the negativity, too. But the banter that results from it is actually hilariously cute at times, and you wonder if the attraction wasn't there from the very beginning. The slowly developing love story between the two is vulnerable and poignant and so beautiful to witness.

Alexandra Bracken is such a gifted writer that she didn't have to incorporate a bunch of badly placed no-no scenes. Did I mention she was in college when she wrote this beautiful book? I'm shocked I'm able to write a semi-coherant review, let alone an entire 400 page book. And it's GOOD! I did have a problem following along with the different territories/countries and their involvement in the master plot, but I was able to overlook it because of my satisfaction with the characters and their unique personalities and development.

I'm hoping for a sequel, even though the story ended nicely. And, like Zelda, my heart dropped when I had no more pages to turn. I cannot wait for more from Ms. Bracken.

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Series: No immediate, concrete plans for a sequel.
Source: I purchased this book.
Published: Egmont USA, 368 pages (March 23, 2010)

Learn more about Alexandra: Website | Blog | Twitter | GoodReads


  1. Wow, this sounds great! I would probably love this.

  2. Awesome review. I love this book too. Can't wait to see what Bracken writes next. Have you check out her blog, it is really good :)

  3. Love the correlation between Brightly Woven and Zelda :) I love when you read a book and completely fall into the story and nothing else exists. I will definitely add this to the TBR list!

  4. "Where is this going, you psychotic, tangential weirdo? you might ask."

    Why yes, I did ask that. But I asked it with LOVE. :)