Sunday, June 5, 2011

Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken

book cover

Brightly Woven
by Alexandra Bracken

ISBN-13: 9781606840382
Hardback: 354 pages
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Released: June 2010

(paperback release on June 28, 2011)

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Sydelle Mirabil's dusty village at the edge of the kingdom has suffered under a ten-year-long drought...until a travel-worn young wizard arrives and brings the rain with him. In return, Wayland North is offered any reward he desires. Sydelle is shocked when he asks for her. He wants her to act as his assistant due to her ability to mend his magic cloaks--something few people can do. There's an invading army right behind him and he needs to get a critical message to the capital that will save her village, so she agrees to go with him.

Wayland is fiercely protective of her, but secretive--especially about the curse that leaves him in agony after using his magic. Unusual storms and earthquakes occur as they journey, and wizards seem drawn to her. Sydelle must discover what is going on if she's to survive and be more than a fought-over tool in the hands of others.

My Review:
Brightly Woven is a young adult fantasy novel set in a fairly generic medieval-type world. Unfortunately, the setting and culture weren't very developed. The magic system (based on individualized talismans used to do magic) was potentially unique and interesting, but even that wasn't developed very deeply despite the large role that magic played in the story.

I found the characters engaging and their road of discovery intriguing. The suspense was created by uncovering the various important secrets and the urgency of reaching the capital in time to stop the war. Both kept me reading. I thought the rate that new information about the various secrets was uncovered was excellent--not too quick, not too slow.

Another reviewer mentioned how Sydelle tended to need rescuing when she ignored people's advice to stay away from a fight. This didn't bother me since she ran into danger to figure out what's going on and due to a desire to help. Also, she's not supposed to be competent against magic. (If she did it to prove something or was competent but still needed rescuing, then it would have bothered me.)

Some details were left uncertain--though tending a certain direction--in a way that made me think a sequel is planned. There was no sex. There was a very minor amount of "he cursed" style of bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this intriguing, enjoyable tale.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One
The day the rains finally came was like any other, with blistering air coating the canyon in a heavy stillness. By late afternoon, the only thing more suffocating than the air was the dust kicked up by our feet. We were as quiet as the dead, moving from rock to crevice, always watching the paths for a sign of movement. Not even a desert hare emerged from the shade. In a way, we were grateful to be left alone, but it was a haunting reminder of what waited for us in the valley below: a village of deserted streets, of wood and mud houses, and of the slow, creaking swing of the well's empty pail.

I crouched beneath the cover of the jutting rocks, my legs aching with exhaustion and my chest as tight as dry leather. The dust was hot between my fingers, and my knees stung with all the jagged little rocks that dug into them. I was awful at this game--I was awful when I was a kid and still awful now, years later, when Henry had decided that the best way to watch his little brothers was to play go-seek-find.

Even with all of the hiding places the Sasinou Mountains had to offer, none ever seemed good enough to mask the red hair that grew out of my head in every which way. I wasn't exactly an image of grace and lightness of foot, either, which made hiding more difficult.

Earlier that day, Mother had given us a disgusted face when Henry came to our house, begging me to join them in the mountains. For weeks, she had worn the strip of black cloth like armor, knotting it fiercely around her upper arm every morning in the dark since the news had reached Father by post.

"Out playing games--now, of all times? It'll do nothing more than show the young ones how to be disrespectful," she had said, working a slab of dough on the countertop.

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