fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsYA fantasy book reviews Alexandra Bracken Brightly WovenBrightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken

Ten years. A long time to go without rain, but the citizens in Sydelle’s small country town are used to it by now. Until one ordinary day when Wayland North wanders into the sleepy community and brings rain with him.

Sydelle is drawn to the self-proclaimed wizard and when her town is raided the night after North’s arrival, she soon finds herself the wizard’s unwilling “assistant” and suddenly on the adventure of a lifetime. Even though Sydelle longed to leave her village, she questions why North, a great and powerful wizard, would choose a simple weaver from a small country village which the rest of the country has all but forgotten about. North also behaves strangely towards her. He is surprisingly overprotective for someone who is practically a stranger, and Sydelle has the funny feeling that North is hiding something from her…

The shining stars in Brightly Woven were the characters. Alexandra Bracken has a gift when it comes to breathing life into her characters. I truly related to Sydelle, all along she knew it was not just chance that North chose to bring her along with him on his journey, and her inquisitive nature and cunning led her to the truth North was hiding from her. Sydelle in particular was a character with depth, something that I think is truly hard to accomplish as a writer.

My qualms lay with the plotline of Brightly Woven. While not written in first person, most of the time the story follows Sydelle, and because she is the victim (for lack of a better term) in the story when she is spirited away from her home, we as readers are left in the dark for a significant portion of the book. I felt like the first two thirds of Brightly Woven dragged on and on. There was no clear direction and there were a few points where I wondered what Bracken was getting at. Then all of a sudden action started happening. The last third of the book was nothing but action, drama, and excitement. Not that excitement is a bad thing, quite the contrary, but this excitement hit you over the head with a 2 x 4. It was like I’d taken a paddle boat out on a quiet lake that suddenly became raging rapids for which I was unprepared.

Overall, Brightly Woven was a fun classic story (maiden and magician go on fantastic journey) that, while a little fuzzy plot-wise, was made up for with intriguing and lovable characters.

Brightly Woven — (2010) Young adult. Publisher: When Wayland North brings rain to a region that’s been dry for over ten years, he’s promised anything he’d like as a reward. He chooses the village elder’s daughter, sixteen-year-old Sydelle Mirabel, who is a skilled weaver and has an unusual knack for repairing his magical cloaks. Though Sydelle has dreamt of escaping her home, she’s hurt that her parents relinquish her so freely and finds herself awed and afraid of the slightly ragtag wizard who is unlike any of the men of magic in the tales she’s heard. Still, she is drawn to this mysterious man who is fiercely protective of her and so reluctant to share his own past. The pair rushes toward the capital, intent to stop an imminent war, pursued by Reuel Dorwan (a dark wizard who has taken a keen interest in Sydelle) and plagued by unusually wild weather. But the sudden earthquakes and freak snowstorms may not be a coincidence. As Sydelle discovers North’s dark secret and the reason for his interest in her and learns to master her own mysterious power, it becomes increasingly clear that the fate of the kingdom rests in her fingertips. She will either be a savior, weaving together the frayed bonds between Saldorra and Auster, or the disastrous force that destroys both kingdoms forever.

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsJulie Waineo, one of our earliest guest reviewers, earned an MBA at Bowling Green State University. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies with a minor in French. Now living in Virginia with her husband and dog, Julie is an avid reader of not only fantasy, but historical fiction, the occasional “chick lit,” and children’s literature.