Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Review: Brightly Woven By Alexandra Bracken

By Alexandra Bracken
June 28, 2011
EgmontUSA, 368 pgs
Amazon Description: “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.”

Here’s the breakdown: 

Plot: Different. That’s the first thing that comes to mind when I consider the story in BW. It’s so difficult these days to find a YA with a premise that hasn’t been used time and time again. In BW, many of the common fantasy plot devices are used: magic and wizards, dragons, and of course, the epic journey to save the kingdom. But Bracken weaves (excuse the pun) everything so beautifully, it’s refreshing. The plot entraps you and you can’t help but speed through to the end, racing to the ultimate climax and enjoying every word. 

Characters: Sydelle is a character full of fire and her narration is quite lyrical. North is a wizard, but entirely different from the stereotype. He’s young, rash, and on his own, rebelling against society’s expectations for himself and his use of magic. Both characters are charmingly flawed. Their relationship is slow-building and genuine as they both gradually surrender to their feelings. The minor characters surrounding Sydelle and North are far from static, each playing a vibrant role.

Writing style: Once every few hundred novels or so, I’ll discover a book so incredible it knocks me straight out of my chair. Brightly Woven is one of these rare novels. The world Bracken has created is as vibrant, multi-layered, and deeply real as any I have ever read. The breadth of Bracken’s fantasy world is breathtaking. I didn’t just read the story. I was IN the story. I journeyed to the capital right alongside Sydelle and North. I felt their fears and held their hopes inside me as I sped through the pages. I honestly can say that I never felt as though I were reading a fantasy story. (Though fantasy this surely is.) From the first page to the last, I was in their world and knew the characters like I know my closest friends.


Fabulous. That’s really all I can say. And also, go out and get it! Right now!


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