SUMMARY: All Sydelle Mirabil ever hoped for was some rain and a chance to escape her village in order to pursue her craft as a weaver. Then the mysterious wizard Wayland North breezes into town and suddenly Sydelle's wishes are being granted but not quite in the ways she'd expected. North brings rain to the village but as his reward he asks for Sydelle to become his assistant as he travels towards the capital. While Sydelle has always wanted to see the world beyond her dusty corner of the kingdom, she is not pleased about the circumstances of her departure and even less pleased about the companionship. The strange wizard is alternatively grumpy and teasing; he drinks too much and refuses to use magic except in special circumstances. Soon, it also become obvious to Sydelle that North is hiding a secret. But she has little opportunity to investigate her suspicions. The unlikely companions are being chased by a rogue wizard who will stop at nothing to prevent Sydelle and North from reaching the capital and accomplishing their goal of stopping the coming war.
ONESMARTCUPCAKE THINKS: I was quite excited for this novel. There is nothing better a fresh, new fantasy and the plot and cover both seemed promising. But, sadly, Brightly Woven just did not do much for me. It has many of the right elements for a good fantasy romp: a mysterious wizard, a spunky and strangely talented heroine, a society on the edge of potential danger and disaster, a unique system of magic, ominous but clever antagonists. The premise and plot is unique and for the majority of the novel, the narrative moves along at a good clip.
However, despite all these things I found that I had to force myself to finish reading it. There is a possibility it was just bad timing; perhaps Brightly Woven was not the right book for me at that moment. But I think that there were other factors. While Sydelle and North immediately display the classic signs of good chemistry (bickering, mutual fascination), their relationship's build into romance never felt as genuine as I wanted. The text would illustrate North's growing protectiveness towards Sydelle and Sydelle's growing care and concern for North yet I never felt as though I had been shown significant depth of either character or the progression leading to these emotional developments. I expected them to be together but yet I wasn't cheering for them. Also, The plot got a little twisted towards the end. I don't want to give away any spoilers so I will simply say that I felt that there were a few too many climaxes to make the conclusion feel solid and satisfying. On occasion, the language became a bit overinflated or melodramatic.
But, while Brightly Woven did not light my fire, I do hope that Alexandra Bracken will keep writing. Despite its flaws, this first novel illustrates potential. Also, many readers have and likely will enjoy Brightly Woven. I would advise you to check the novel out for yourself. Tell me what you thought!