The day the rains came was like any other, blistering air coating the canyon in a heavy stillness....
Just as the rains come after ten long, dry years, a young wizard, Wayland North, appears, to whisk Sydelle Mirabil away from her desert village. North needs an assistant, and Sydelle is eager to see the country - and to join him on his quest to stop the war that surely will destroy her home. But North has secrets - about himself, about why he chose Sydelle, about his real reasons for the journey. What does he want from her? And why does North's sworn enemy seem fascinated by Sydelle himself?
Through a journey that spans a country, magic and hard-won romance are woven together with precision and brilliant design by a first-time novelist.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: This book is like chocolate. But this time, I'll elaborate.
You know that first piece of chocolate, the small piece you take because it's a treat and maybe you haven't had it in a while and you want to savor it? And you roll it around in your mouth a little, let it get all melty, experience the taste as fully as possible. You try to eat the rest of it- the bar, the bag of chocolate chips, those little Dove eggs- slowly, and for a while it works. If you're weird like me you drink tea with your chocolate so that your mouth is always warm enough to soften it before you chew and it spreads over your tongue and makes a layer of deliciousness that you wash down with yet more tea. But eventually the lure of the sugar and cocoa is too strong. You eat more, more, more and you eat it faster, faster, faster- tea forgotten, savoring forgotten, seeking only to consume as much of it as possible as fast as possible because somehow you got the idea while you were eating it that the chocolate will go away if you don't eat it now and so it is absolutely imperative that you do so. Even when you realize you're almost out, that the bag is almost empty or the bar mostly devoured, you can only slow down a little bit. And finally, when it's all gone, you sit and blink a bit and try to figure out where it all went. Realization hits, followed shortly by contentment, followed even more closely by a wish that there was more and a knowledge that there is not and so you must enjoy what you had.
That is pretty much exactly what Brightly Woven is like for me- has been twice now. Chocolate. I try to savor it, really, I do. I can't. After a certain scene I just have to keep reading, homework or sleep be damned, until the end. I love the characters. I love the plot. I love the world and its peculiar politics. None of that has dimmed after a year and a re-read. I am still wholly, totally, completely smitten with this book.
My only complaint is that there is not more. This isn't just a fangirl thing, by the way- many other reviewers who don't love it the way I do have commented about a lack of explanation to the worldbuilding, and this time I could see the places where more explanations belonged. The foundation and framework were there. If there is ever, ever a sequel (pretty please? Can there be?) I'd like to see it explore a little more of the peculiar magic and religion of Palmarta and its neighbors.
Full disclosure: The narrator is a 16 year-old redhead with dreams of grandeur. I first read this as a 16 year-old redhead with dreams of grandeur and a peculiar love of TDH wizards. The love interest is a tall, dark, handsome wizard. It's no wonder I get absorbed in this story so quickly, even a second time.
Aside to a particular audience: Rachel, Fate, are we making those trading cards this summer? Because I still have dibs on North. Finders keepers.
This book came so highly recommended and its accolades were sung so virulently that I ignored my usual rule (either I buy it at Kindle or I get it from the library. I don't buy "books" per se anymore) and ordered the hardcover from Amazon, sure that I would love it.
I actually found it kind of meh. Everything about this story is cute and nice, which is good praise for the author, but there's nothing spectacular about it.
Many parts of the book were lovely, different, imaginative and sweet. The story was rather simplistic but nice. It paced well, has a good climax, many of its characters were enjoyable to read.
The writing, particularly at the beginning of the novel, was very disjointed. It's almost as if Bracken had trouble completing thoughts or visualizing scenes in her head. Actions were often either not followed through or not brought to the readers attention until they'd already been half done.
There was almost no detailed description, or at least, very minimal. Unlike Karen Miller's world in Empress, which was a smorgasbord of culture, identity, sight and sound, I could honestly tell you very little of the people who inhabit Brightly Woven's world.
The world is disappointingly barren to us and it's visual surroundings, smells, feels and tastes are mostly ignored.
The characters often do and say things that didn't make sense, as if half the scene (the important half with most of the information) were missing.
So, over all, it was a nice book. Probably not one I would read again although I'll be interested in picking up its sequel to see where Syd and North end up next.
Brightly Woven is a fantasy tale of a young woman swept into great events. it has magic and it has romance, Young Adult style.
for the first half of this novel, i spent a lot of time muttering darkly about Kirkus Reviews and Publisher's Weekly. their glowing reviews are what led me to Brightly Woven in the first place. after having a great time in the Dystopic SciFi YA world (thank you, Hunger Games) and having a less-than-great time in the Paranormal Horror YA world (thanks for not so much, Beautiful Darkness), i decided that it was time for some Fantasy YA. and later i began to curse myself for not choosing Melina Marchetta.
the problems are manifold:
- dialogue that is downright terrible. trite... easy... blundering... all the negative words. at times i felt like i was reading a 14-year old's rough draft of some wet-dream fantasia. ugh.
- a narrative that is herky-jerky in its blindly pell-mell rush to illustrate a world. (wow, "herky-jerky" and "pell-mell" in one sentence: awesome! i'm so proud of myself!) key scenes that are seemingly left out arbitrarily. to say that the narrative is erratic and confusing would be a hilarious understatement.
- a character that is so entirely of the Gale Template from Hunger Games that he is positively painful to read. i tried to skip his appearances, with little success.
- some of the most unimaginative yet still off fantasy names ever. "Arcadia", a place where a bunch of children live... seriously? "Provincia" is a country's capital? really? come on!
- a potentially ingenious scene concerning a young queen's evilly brilliant plan to stop a war is totally ruined by sadly awkward dialogue and some eye-rollingly clumsy twists & turns. such a disappointment.
- our heroine leaves her small town at the beginning of the narrative and spends much time bemoaning that fact. unfortunately, this reader could care less... because her home is barely even described. i got no sense of place. it is almost as if Bracken couldn't even be bothered.
but about halfway through, i started getting some warm feelings. here's why:
- the magic system is blunt and basic... but effective. even exciting - in its primal, elemental way.
- our Mysterious Romantic Hero is very individualistic. he is an 18-year old wizard who downs 4 pints of beer at the first tavern he meets. he smells - badly - of sweat & beer & unwashed socks & i suppose unwashed body. he is low on charm, snarky, and yet strangely sympathetic. and, most happily of all, he doesn't bully our heroine and he is not remotely rapey. he is idiosyncratic without actually being annoying.
- the heroine's Special Powers (at first) appear to be the intriguingly prosaic ability to do some slightly magical weaving. in the second half, we learn much more, we see there are much greater stakes to her rather mindboggling powers - and it has actually been carefully set up since the very beginning. it is surprisingly tragic. and pretty smart writing.
- there is a very emotional chapter where our heroine first takes gentle but firm care of the young wizard (including removing his hair-raisingly smelly socks) and then is struck down herself, needing care in turn from that wizard. this was a wonderful sequence.
- and then there are these straightforward lines, which reminded me - of all things - of a great bit of dialogue from Tennessee Williams' "Night of the Iguana": "No part of you is dark or ugly," I said sharply, squeezing his hand. "Not to me, not ever. Do you understand?" so maybe not all the dialogue is terrible. some of it has a rather lovely purity to it.
so, in sum, i'd love to give this one 3 stars (i.e. I LIKED IT)... but the dialogue was, for the most part, just too atrocious. but i do think that Bracken is capable of much more, if she puts her mind to it. apparently she wrote this during her final semester in college - who knows what she could accomplish now, with the ivory tower behind her.
“I don’t do well without you,” North said. “Who I was before – I never want to be that person again. But I told you when I took you away from here that when everything was over, it would be your choice. You would get to choose where you wanted to go and who you wanted to be.” There was a pleading look in his eyes. In that moment, he looked as if I had stripped him of his cloak and magic. I could knock him back into that darkness with a single blow.
Alexandra Bracken’s Brightly Woven was the perfect book for me. It takes a special kind of novel that pulls me away from the here and now and catapults my imagination into a suspended reality and undefined time and place. I found myself resisting to leave when I came across the final paragraphs. Bracken’s pages are filled with awesome; her characters are fierce, passionate and loyal; and the plot captures magic, romance and mystery in just the right blend to create a fantastical journey from beginning to end. Beautiful! Absolutely beautiful!
After a 10 year drought, the rains came to Sydelle Miribel’s desert village along with a young stranger dressed in wizard robes. Sydelle suddenly finds herself pulled from her family and friends and taken on a quest to stop a war that seems inevitable. Her part in this journey is not quite clear, as Wayland North is forced to keep secrets from her in order to protect who and what she is. When the story comes to an end game, Sydelle discovers what she is capable of and must make a choice between two divergent paths leaving North hoping for a future that isn’t his to decide.
Many times I rant about authors being unable to tell a complete story in one book and shoving sequels into shallow story lines. With Brightly Woven I’m at a quandary. I feel Bracken did a masterful job of plotting and concluding this story, but simply put… I want more. I’d love to see a sequel to this story , but if that’s not where Brightly Woven is intended, I’ve been given enough information to draw my own conclusions and still place this book at the top of my bookshelf along with my other faves. This story was truly fantastical!
Thank you Nic for challenging me to read this. Great choice for what I was hoping to experience in a YA fantasy read. MUAH!
Favorite quotes “I’m trying to feel sorry for you, really I am. If you wait just a moment, I’m sure the tears will come.” North
“Yes, my beautiful, beautiful darling! As my beautiful, beautiful darling wishes.” North
Protect those who are weak in the world. Guide those who think themselves lost, for as long as you are above, all paths will be straight and all hearts will be strengthened.
I don't think I've ever given up on a book so quickly - PAGE 2, I swear, I give every book a fair chance, but I disliked the writing from the first page - it was so strangely immature, so empty, so cliche, as if written by a 14-year old, with no finesse or artistry, no spark. Some of my friends really liked it, but it didn't work for me at all. I am not willing to push myself further to see if it gets better...
I can hardly contain my excitement over this book! It was amazing! Purely brilliant. Alexandra created a fantastical magical world full of mystery and intrigue that tugged at me, pulling me into the story and refusing to let go. Alexandra wrote beautifully. The words were-how else can I describe it?- woven intricately together to conjure up such vivid scenes and pictures.
The characters were written to perfection. Sydelle was amazing. I loved her fiery disposition, yet her quiet, gentle care and love she gave to others (and I love her name, and that North made his own nickname for her :). I loved North, might even have a little crush on him *sheepish grin* (second time reading, make that a MAJOR big crush on him:). I loved his sarcastic humor, and just his whole personality, (roguishly he may be sometimes).Their love was perfect. It didn’t need kissing to spur it on, (although that’s not always a bad way to go). Even after everything they went through, their love still persisted, which is a sure sign of true love.
The writing was impeccable, and the dialogue was perfect. The story was so colorful, weaving around me. I was captivated from the brilliance of the words and story. The story was so creative, and thought out perfectly. It was astounding.
Brightly Woven is one of my new favorite books of all time. It was one of the most amazing books I’ve ever read. And one thing that I really liked, was that there was no profanity or sexual stuff or vulgarity in it-a real rare find in a book nowadays. Having a book without that kind of stuff shows that a story can be truly great, and that it can captivate readers without the need to use sex or anything like that. A great talent if you ask me, but not a hard one to do. I don’t know Alexandra, or if this was her intention, but thank you for a clean, beautiful love story. We need more of those in the world. I’m so excited to read what she has next.
And can I just say how beautiful the cover is? And the title, I love it. Yeesh, the spine alone is enough to reel me in. Looks pretty good on my bookshelf. *little uncontrollable giggle.* And I need to say that this book NEEDS a sequel. There's so much more to the story, and I don't want to leave this world and the characters Alexandra created, I love it too much.
I feel the urge to be gentle with this book. Like a beautiful, stacked blonde with baby blues who doesn't understand if you speak in words of more than two syllables. The package is pretty, but it's all unfurnished upstairs. It's like Alexandra took a very pretty idea, and painted a flat, two-dimensional picture of it with no nuances, no depth.
I was about twelve when I found out that my birthstone was aquamarine. I'd read about it in books, and it sounded gorgeous -- a sparkling blue-green stone the color of the Caribbean. I annoyed my mom for ages until she finally gave in and took me to the jewelers to buy me an aquamarine pendant. Imagine my disappointment when the jeweler showed me a pale, colorless stone that showed the barest hint of blue, and that only in the sun! That was pretty much how I felt when I read Brightly Woven. The story in my head of how this book should be was so much better than the actual thing.
The story is about Sydelle, a sixteen year old weaver who lives in a desert area that has been stricken with drought for several years. When a mysterious young wizard finally brings them rain, the villagers promise him any reward he wants. He picks Sydelle, for reasons unknown to her, and as her village is attacked, they flee to the capital to warn the Queen and the Wizard Guards (the country's warrior mages) of the situation. ALong the way, Sydelle discovers that she has powers she had never dreamt she would possess, and that people would fear and covet.
I haven't read much YA fantasy. I don't even know if there is much YA fantasy out there. Not the urban fantasy thing, but pure fantasy. But I have read more than my fair share of adult fantasy, and if there's one thing I know, you can't build a solid fantasy story without some very, very strong worldbuilding. This is where fantasy becomes that much harder to write than urban fantasy. At least in urban fantasy, you can use the same societal structure, the same basic world model as the world we live in. In fantasy, you have to start from scratch. You have to envision not just the characters, but the world they live in, the food they eat, their geography, their food, their clothing, their government, their religion. Every single detail counts, because you're taking your reader into a galaxy far, far away.
Alexandra Bracken's worldbuilding just didn't do it for me. It's beyond basic, it's so simplistic as to be almost non-existent. I never got a clear picture of the geography of the continent. Sydelle and North's journey from her village to the capital had so many jumps, I never got a clear picture of where they were heading, what the journey was like, and since the journey consumes at least half of the book, that is a Very Bad Thing.
The sister goddesses of this world seem to have played a major part in influencing the characters in the book. But we never get a clear idea of the religious creed they spawned. There's only two lines about them, how one sister gave her followers magic, and the other gave her followers the sword, so the people of Palmarta had warrior mages, and the people of the other five countries (three of which we don't even know existed until the last third of the book!) had massive armies. If this is a religion-based war, you can't get away with writing two lines about the goddesses who are the major motivating factor behind the whole thing!
And the choppy writing style was enough to make me want to abandon the book a few pages in. I spent most of the book flipping back to the pages I'd already read to see if I had missed something, because the narrative was so disjointed and made so little sense. Have you ever seen those flashback scenes in movies? There are a bunch of images from the earlier part of the movie cobbled together, as the hero/heroine has their big epiphany. If you've watched the whole movie, the entire flashback scene makes sense, but if you've just come in at the part where the flashback scene starts, it's a slideshow of images that make little to no sense. Reading Brightly Woven is like coming in only at the flashback scene. Sydelle in her village/flash/Soldiers attacking the village/flash/Sydelle on the other side of the mountains/flash/North getting drunk in a tavern/flash/Sydelle attacked by rogue magician/flash/earthquake out of nowhere (and maybe some sort of fire?)/flash/Sydelle and North in Bigger town/flash... and so on. Doesn't make any sense? Yeah, it didn't to me either!
I never really got to know Sydelle or North. I have some vague idea of a girl who weaves magical cloaks and has some unknown power, but there is no build-up to the revelation of this power. Poof, one day she's an ordinary girl trying to deliver a message to the Wizard Guards, and in the next minute, she's a jinx! The point of a good book is that you sink into the story, feel for the characters, try to puzzle out what's going to happen next, and where the story is heading. If all you've got is a few random bits and pieces of information, then you're spending more time trying to figure out what you're reading than you are enjoying the story. Wayland North was even more of a spectre in the story. At least, since the story is told from Sydelle's point of view, you have some understanding of who she is, and what drives her. (Although the thing with Henry was weird, he only appears for about half a second in the beginning of the book, so how are you supposed to understand that she has feelings for him? When she suddenly starts talking about it in the second half of the book, I was like, huh? who's Henry?) North doesn't even get that character-building. Here's what I know about North: He's eighteen years old (although he reads much, much, much older), he's dirty and smelly and never takes a bath or washes his hair, his clothes are falling apart, and he has stinky feet. Yeah, just the kind of guy I'd want to fall in love with! And their relationship consisted mostly of him getting drunk and Sydelle getting mad until suddenly, one day, for no ostensible reason, she falls in love with him! This book is FAIL from all angles!
I read a couple of reviews where they said that Bracken had had to heavily edit the book to meet the publisher's word count. It's a story I'm not buying. Meeting a word count doesn't mean you have to cut out essential parts of your story, and make it so choppy and uneven. And if the word count is so unreasonable as to make your story impossible to write, then find another publisher, or split the book, or just hold on to your artistic integrity for god's sake! Besides, it's not hard to do good worldbuilding within a limited number of pages. Tamora Pierce's been doing it for ages, with her Tortall books.
Another excuse that's been put forward is that Alexandra Bracken is very young. That is the lamest thing I've ever heard. Christopher Paolini was fifteen when he wrote the first Eragon book, and even though I'm a rabid hater of the series, I still think he did a better job than Bracken. Being young is no excuse for writing bad fiction. It's like people who say, Oh, Alexandra Adornetto is only sixteen and she's written a whole, entire book, so let's go buy it and read it and not trash it because she's so very young! A sixteen year old has no business trying to get her book published, and publishers have no business publishing that tripe. What was there to recommend Halo, apart from the age of the author? It's just a cheap publicity gimmick to sell books. Every author has a duty to her readers, to make sure that the money they're spending on her books is worthwhile, and when I was sixteen and writing really trashy novels, I knew better than to think it was good enough for the general public to read. Sorry to get on my soapbox, but the whole 'she's so young' thing is just eyewash!
The only reason this book got two stars instead of one was because Bracken finally got her act together in the last part of the book, and kind of pulled me in. But to expect me to slog through three quarters of the book to get to the good stuff is just not fair. This book had so much potential, and I can't help but wish someone with more talent had picked up the idea and written the fabulous book it ought to have been.
Such a beautiful, beautiful darling.. oh, I mean, story ;))
One word: lovely! 2 words: loved it! 3 words: Thank you Arlene!
Once in a while I find myself lost in a beautiful story, with great characters I get to know and love so much, that I find it difficult at the end to let it go.. and yes, this is the case. I know, I'm a complete romantic with no cure - I take that as a compliment ;)
The main reason I loved this book so much was probably because of North.. Of course, in the beginning I didn't like him that much (he was so mysterious about everything, keeping so many secrets and ... well, he really needed to stop drinking and start taking baths), but when I started to know him better everything changed. As Sydelle started to care about him, I started doing just the same.
There was something so sad heartbreaking about North and his story that made me want to hold him tight in my arms and take away all of his pain. I wanted him to be happy, I wanted Syd to love him, I wanted them to be happy. Also it was nice to see their relationship develop slowly from anger and hate, to friendship and compassion, and then finally turning into love. I felt all Syd's insecurities and all that need to find out what was North keeping away from her, and seeing how the pieces of the puzzle started to fit together I couldn't be more surprised. There were some things that i had anticipated, but there were some that i just didn't see coming.. And i loved it all.
Even though the story is suppose to take place somewhere in the past there were also some modern elements in it that I liked - for example Sydelle and North shared the same room without making a drama out of it, and there were some powerful women reigning in this story like the queen and the Sorceress (I'm so sick of the old patriarchal societies, it was a relief to read something a bit different .. after all, this is fantasy, right?)
Another thing that was nice for a change is the fact that even after Sydelle and North started to have feelings for each other their main purpose didn't change (which was to stop the war). I know that my review is mostly about love, but in fact love is just a little part of the story. There's this journey they take - full of danger and mystery, and there's this world so beautifully described, and the secondary characters that play at times such an important part in the story, and there are so many twists in the story, we find out so many things about the characters (things that can change everything) ... and there is this feeling after reading the last page - it's joy (not a small smile on your face, but that real feeling you have after finishing a great book - you know the feeling, right?)
To make it short - the love story is realistic, truthful to their characters, I was holding my breath for their first kiss, and it was all so sweet. The story starts a bit slow, but after the 6th chapter there is a lot more action and more important details are revealed that I couldn't get enough of it.. I wanted more, much more. On the last pages I felt like I was saying goodbye to an old friend of mine, I wanted to stop reading only not to get to the end of it. Also, the ending holds some unanswered questions enough for us to pray for a sequel, but it also makes it all so clear that you don't need to know more because you feel that the story is now complete.
“Yes, my beautiful, beautiful darling! As my beautiful, beautiful darling wishes.” ( North )
"He held me against him gently, as if I was glass - as if I could shatter and fall away from him at any moment and leave him breathless and alone once more." (Sydelle)
"You're a wizard," I snapped. "Can't you just use magic to make your own food?" "Ah, yes," he retorted. "Because mud pies are so very delicious and the wind fills empty stomachs quite nicely."
"A filthy pig," North said good-naturedly. "But there's only one filthy pig allowed in her life, and the position's been filled." (North)
“I’m trying to feel sorry for you, really I am. If you wait just a moment, I’m sure the tears will come.” (North)
North laughed. "So I only help attractive people? You realize you're flattering yourself."
"Magister is fond of telling me that my handwriting looks like the scratches of a blind chicken." (North)
So..all in one, I loved this story and I guess I'm going to read more of this genre.
That cover is just marvelous honestly. Just one look at it made me so excited to read this book. I mean the detail in it is just on point. The reflection of lightning on her face, you can just feel the magic already. You just know (and hope) that what's inside will give you as much of a thrill.
Sydelle Mirabil has lived in Cliffton her whole life, but has always felt she needed to get out to see what lies out of her little town. She gets that opportunity sooner than expected when a young wizard, Wayland North, comes to town in a whirlwind of much needed rain. The town had been in a drought for years and to show their gratitude Sydelle's father tells North he can have anything he wants for his great service to the town. Strangely he choses that Sydelle accompany on his journey to the capitol to stop the oncoming war. But why her? Well you are going to have to read it to find out.
I was so wrapped up into this journey that Syd and North were on, my mind would wander to their story while I'd be doing other things. I'd imagine the book sitting where I left it just begging to be picked up again. Well, I of course couldn't resist. I had lots of nostalgia reading this book because it reminded of books that I use to love to devour. Tons of action, peril, mishaps and nice moments between the two main characters. I liked the take on wizards, though I would have liked if it had been explored more and if there is a sequel I think it would be. What sealed the deal was the romance, which is really the core of the book.
I see other reviewers seem kind of disappointed with the book and I was wondering why. I'm guessing they had certain expectations. This really isn't geared toward hard core fantasy fans that love world building and feeling immeresed in a totally new world. Don't get me wrong I did get a good sense of the world, but it didn't have dictionaries of words or list of character names. I love those kind of books too, but for this story I was glad it wasn't bogged down with all that. It kept true to the growth of the characters and the events happening around them be important catalyst, but not overshadow them.
So go ahead and get trapped into this book's trance of colors, power, magic and most of all sense of adventure with traces of real human warmth that oddly come from wizards too.
Picture me, circa 1998. It's 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:
THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: THE OCARINA OF TIME.
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 freak? 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'S 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.
It's fascinating to me how, given two quite similar books or styles of book, one will leave you cold and the other has you at hello. I think about this phenomenon all the time and wonder what quality it is that pushes one over into a reading match. Most recently I found myself pondering this as I read Alexandra Bracken's debut novel BRIGHTLY WOVEN. The cover caught my eye back in October and, really, it is at once so attractive and nicely representative of both the book and the character. I then read several pretty exciting reviews and was delighted to win an ARC in a giveaway hosted by the generous Anastasia Hopcus. I eagerly awaited its arrival in the mail and cracked it open the day it came.
Sydelle Mirabel has always lived in a small, dusty town in a small, dusty corner of her country. An accomplished weaver, Sydelle lives a quiet life completing her chores, helping her hardworking parents, and sneaking what moments she can to roam on the hills with her childhood friend and his little brothers. Then one day an unusual person walks into town, bringing storms in his wake. In exchange for this miracle, Wayland North is given his choice of rewards. He chooses Sydelle. And before she can manage to question why or say goodbye, North whisks her away under the tattered folds of his many cloaks. Sydelle soon discovers the world is not the way she imagined it to be. And neither is North. With his capricious nature and tendency to overindulge, this unlikely wizard may hold the fate of the war and weather-torn nation in his rough hands and Sydelle is not at all sure he is up to the task. At least not on his own.
BRIGHTLY WOVEN is a lovely surprise of a story. In many ways it's reminiscent of a few ubiquitous YA fantasy authors, particularly Diana Wynne Jones and Sherwood Smith. North is quite an offbeat (and profligate) hero and I wasn't sure at first if he would win me over. He starts off mysterious and interesting with his swirling cloaks, his dark gloves, and his refusal to explain anything. As we, along with Sydelle, get to know him better he reminded me more and more of the infamous Howl from Howl's Moving Castle. As I don't number myself among Howl's fans (I know, I know), I was worried this would detract from my enjoyment of the story. Such was happily not the case. Alexandra Bracken manages to strike the perfect note between the humorous and the dire, the ridiculous and the heart wrenching. Sydelle is a strong character from the start. Forthright and sensible, she puts up with only as much of North's nonsense as she absolutely must to survive and, despite his vagueness and his secrecy, her focus never wavers from saving her country and her home from those who would see it destroyed. The relationship between the two of them slowly strengthens and takes on an appreciable gravity and closeness across the course of their many wild dashes hither and yon across the land. The world building matches the characters in both quirk and charm so that it was a pleasure to track their chaotic progress. I liked how North is in turn hapless and fierce, how he can never find his way but stalks off to fight a dragon or a duel at the drop of a hat. I believed in him and in Sydelle. And, in the end, what more can you ask of a read? BRIGHTLY WOVEN is due out March 23rd.
Finished this book in one day around 3:30 in the morning. Closed the cover, sighed with a smile and felt all gooey inside. Haven't read a romance like this in so long if ever, and the adventure had me turning page after page into the night.
Sydelle is a girl who is chosen by a young wizard to accompany him to Provincia and carry a message that might save their kingdom from a disastrous war. Having little choice in the matter Sydelle goes but not without some resentment. Having never left her small town of Cliffton she is in for the journey of her life. Full of adventure, magic, romance, and terrible curses. It's a perfect recipe for a great read.
Sydelle as a character is rash and stubborn but in a way that is good. She is very into doing the right thing (being noble I guess) and not being a burden of any sort. If I were her and North told me to stay behind while he did something dangerous I would say "Okey dokey" and have some lemonade but Sydelle isn't like that, and if she were then the book would definitely not be as exciting with her just sitting pretty. The pacing of the story was good with a wizard duel and some near misses with the bad guy. I guessed at what Sydelle’s powers were about halfway through but you don’t get the full picture until later on.
The romance in the story was excellent and I was pleasantly surprised at how much was in it. I could just feel myself get all warm and fuzzy as I read some of the parts where they are together. Wayland North does not make a good first impression on Sydelle but that is overturned eventually. And they don’t say over the top cheesy lines all the time either. Okay maybe a few borderline ones. The writing flowed simply and easily, no trouble to follow. It didn’t do a ton of description or background but that didn’t bother me. Some fantasy authors do a whole lot of description and background to the point where it feels like a textbook to me. Some people like it but it’s not something I gravitate towards.
There could possibly be a sequel to this book and I would probably read it but I think it could stand on its own just fine. Just as a side note North is supposed to stink because he doesn’t bathe very much troughout the story apparently. Now I need sanitizer when someone does not wash his hands after going to the restroom, so in my mind he is nice and clean by the end. Nowhere was it put that he still stinks so…
If Brightly Woven was an amusement park ride, I'd say it would be a wooden roller coaster - it's fun and exciting at times, but the ride is very bumpy, rickety, and you wonder how in the world the coaster got a license to operate in the first place.
Most of the time, I try and at least pretend to be objective. But every once in awhile a book comes along that totally unleashes the inner opinionated Amelia, and this was one such book. In a nutshell, I didn't enjoy this book. It was hard to get into the plot of the story because the writing was really disjointed and distracting. I loved North, but Sydelle was only so-so. She's like the typical YA heroine in the anthem of "girls are macho too!" but unlike a lot of other YA heroines, she's a little on the stupid side. North would do something to protect her and she'd go "I can take care of myself because GIRLS RULE!" and then she'd do something totally stupid and lo and behold would need North AFTER ALL. Go figure! My little feminist friend (seriously, she is little: 4'10) doesn't even like her, because when a character screams about being independent and smart and capable, she needs to be able to actually DO SOMETHING on her own. But I digress. I mean, at least Katsa from Graceling wasn't an idiot! Like I said, I liked North, but he seemed a little out-of-character. A wizard who is totally direction impaired and needs the map-reading skills of a girl who's never even left her own town? Yeah right. Also, he's all of 18 years old, yet he talks like he's an old man. O_o
So to wrap up: this book was okay, not the brilliant debut novel by a young 20something that I was expecting. That title still belongs to you, Mr. Paolini! I was disappointed, and I wish I hadn't actually bought a copy. But hey, there are loads of 4-and-5 star reviews out there, so others definitely like it. I will say that I appreciated this Brightly Woven being a clean read. That really is something nowadays, to write a clean novel. So that was very much appreciated. But it wasn't enough for me. It's not bad, but the weakest link is definitely in the writing. Honestly, it read like a 2nd or 3rd draft. Don't shoot this to the top of your TBR list, in my opinion.
Brightly Woven is a stay-up-reading-late-into-the-night worthy book! I was up half the night reading it, as I couldn't stand to put down the perfection Brightly Woven is. It is one of my absolute favorites!
Some fantasy can be overbearing, but Brightly Woven was a perfect mix of everything a good book needs. Bracken drew me in with page one, and didn't let me go until the last page. Brightly Woven really puts a new spin on wizards and the magical abilities that come with a world like that. The world that Brightly Woven was set in, was absolutely enchanting. It was the perfect place to escape! With the first SENTENCE, Ms. Bracken had already made the real world disappear, and taken me to Sydelle's world.
The writing is Brightly Woven is absolutely fantastic. It's pure magic. There were so many scenes where I was just captivated. Bracken managed to paint vivid pictures in your mind. The romance in Brightly Woven is pretty magical itself. It was absolutely adorable!
The characters were fantastic! All the character continued to grow as the story went on! All the characters had numerous layers, and every time you thought you'd figured out a character, you discovered something else about them. Another thing I loved about the characters was that none of them were perfect, they all had some flaw. I loved North. He was so swoon-worthy. Sydelle was a wonderfully developed character. She wasn't weak and frail.
Brightly Woven is a book for everyone. It's filled with a magical world, is original, has wonderful characters, and phenomonal writing. I can't even express my words for this book with a simple review, it is that amazing. If you like fantasy, definately read this! If you're not a fan of fantasy, still give this a try, as it is mind-blowing! This is a book that will stick out in your mind, and remain memorable. I desparately am awaiting a sequel, as I am dying for more of North and Sydelle's story!
***I also feel I must mention Brightly Woven stunningly, beautiful cover. I am in love with it! It's gorgeous.
"What-?“ I choked on my own words, my heart dropping again into my stomach. We were sliding sharply downwards, the air buzzing and singing. The world went dark around us, but there was no fear in my heart. Ah, I thought, feeling the first brush of tingling warmth as we fell into the unknown. Magic."
Loved it! Brightly Woven is a gorgeous story full of adventure, mystery, humour, magic and romance.
The writing was simple and engaging. It had a clever plot filled with lots of twists and turns. Just when you thought you knew what was happening Bracken would surprise you with something else.
The character are just as strong as the storyline. Sydelle is kind, strong, feisty and stubborn. North was funny, moody, brave, complex and of course a little bit handsome underneath it all. He isn’t that perfect male character that cause every girl to fall in love at first sight. He is flawed and I kind of developed a little bit of a crush. The playful banter between Sydelle and North was very entertaining. I also loved watching their relationship develop subtlety from dislike, to tolerate, to friendship, to romance. And when the romance finally did happen it was sweet and real. Also North’s best mate, Owain was also an unforgettable character who charmed me every scene he was in.
Overall a remarkable debut novel that has got me excited to read whatever Bracken writes next.
Every once and awhile, I read a book that completely takes over my mind. I think about it at night while I’m trying to sleep and I contemplate what’s going to happen next constantly as I go about my day. It basically manages to squeeze into every thought I have until I’m able to pick it back up again. Brightly Woven is a perfect example of said mind-control.
The story has a wonderful balance of adventure, magic and self-discovery. I would’ve never imagined a young adult novel possible of holding all three with such addiction, but Alexandra has certainly done it.
The journey between the two main characters, Sydelle and North, was kept the main priority throughout the entire story. There was no floating away from the plot to sneak in bits of romance- the author managed to do that without straying. I also enjoyed the small yet cleverly created magical elements- such as the rover beetle, an insect that keeps track of somebody- that made the story so much more unique.
I was impressed with the characters as well. Instead of acting as a damsel in distress, Sydelle was a kick-ass heroin who was always thinking of ways to get back up after she was knocked down. North, though he doesn’t bathe enough, got some laughs and swoons out of me. I particularly enjoyed reading his intoxicated scenes. It was nice to have the occasionally humor with all the gasping and squealing I was doing.
Filled with beautifully written magic, battles, a stinky-yet-charming wizard and a well-plotted journey, Brightly Woven has officially managed to snag a spot on my all-time favorite list. I have never wanted a book to be a movie so much before, considering how incredible and amazingly detailed all of the big magic scenes were. So, if you happen to be somebody in the movie biz and you‘re reading this, I’ve got advice for you- THIS IS YOUR NEXT BLOCKBUSTER. DO IT. NOW.
And the same advice follows for people who are searching for something amazing to read- THIS IS YOUR NEXT FAVORITE BOOK. DO IT. NOW.
Brightly Woven was one of those books I found myself inexplicably excited about (there's a wizard named North?!), and as is the case with most books I get randomly excited about, it didn't quite stand up to the pressure. This isn't to say I didn't like it, because I did. Just that it suffered a bit from build-up, which left me a little wanting. But I think most people, especially the younger crowd, would enjoy this, and probably wouldn't be bothered all that much by the little things I just can't let go in life.
Things sometimes felt incomplete: too easy, too fast, in need of more defined transitions, etc. It needed a better sense of time, of the length of time, and the struggle and travel. It would have made everything seem more real and important. The romance, too, could have been more rounded, with more clearly defined transitions, rather than 'one day we're enemies (or pretending to be) and one day we're soulmates, no discussion needed'. [At the very least, without getting into spoiler territory, the idea of what Sydelle could do for North should have been addressed more, because that would raise some SERIOUS trust issues.]
And Sydelle, the main character, was a little petulant and youngish for my tastes. I sometimes wanted to smack her and say "There are more important things!" This wasn't helped by the fact that throughout the story there was this "Everybody Loves Sydelle" thing going on that had me like NOES. It's one of my absolute biggest pet peeves to take a girl who's always been "nobody" and then one day have EVERYONE IN THE WORLD seeming to be obsessed with her. So imagine my surprise when it actually ended up working for the story. There was actually a purpose and a basis for it, and I ended up giving in and saying, 'Well, okay. Yeah." (Because I'm eloquent and shit.)
But the fact is that I did like Sydelle, and I think she does grow throughout their adventure. And I did like the story, and felt that anything it was lacking in the way of development didn't really hurt it too much. And, well...I liked North. Don't know that I should have, but I did.
It was really enjoyable for the most part, quick and engaging, and I enjoyed the world building quite a bit, despite any flaws. It had the added (unexpected) bonus of actually surprising me a few times. There were some revelations that I either wasn't expecting, or were more than I was expecting, which always makes me happy. I would love to dig in a bit more and explore Sydelle's reaction to one revelation in particular, and though I'm pretty sure this is a stand-alone, I can see room to build it into a series. And I'm sure with time and experience, any deficiencies (that I forever feel the need to mercilessly pick apart) in the writing will be smoothed over as the very young Alexandra Bracken grows into her story telling scope.
Sydelle grew up in the tiny desert town of Clifton, known only for the sand that is exported out to other countries in exchange for water. Clifton has been in a ten-year drought. She barely remembers rain and has never seen snow. So when on a regular day when it suddenly starts raining, everyone in the town is confused but overjoyed. War is eminent and the wizard Wayland North, who caused the rain, needs to deliver a message to help prevent it. The people were so happy that he made it rain that they offered him any reward he wanted. He chose Sydelle. Mostly for the fact that she can mend his magical cloaks. Or so Syd thinks. Syd hates North at first for taking her away from home, acting the way he does, and being so secretive. They eventually become close friends until Syd believes that North betrayed, lied, and used her for his own well being. For Syd is something special. Something no one has seen for many years. Someone who can break the curse that is slowly killing North. The girl who can destroy worlds. Magic and wizards and weaving, oh my!
Me every single time North was around:
Me about this book: Fangirl all the way. Though it doesn't show up much in this review...it's there. And maybe someday I will write a review like Anila's and it will shine through like the bright light it is. But that day is not today. So for now: gifs. A picture is worth a thousand words and I hope this shows some of my love.
This is a male version of me and my sister when we talk about this and other very few select books:
Although it must be said that my love for this book in no way means that I am unaware that this wee precious book has problems and also is horrifyingly incomplete. Oh, no, I am aware, I just love it so much, I don't much care.
1. Snowflake (White Apple Tree) - North\Syd 2. Breathe In, Breathe Out (Mat Kearney) - North\Syd 3. Collide (Howie Day) - North\Syd
I now have this beauteous book in my possession after years of wanting it. Finally the money to procure it showed up and now it's MINE. Yay!
I really wish I would have read this sooner!! I was absolutely sucked in. If you are into Magic, Wizards, Quests, Red-heads and a touch of romance I would highly recommend this one. On the flip-side, if you require a very fast paced read and lots of action, you might want to pass this one up. It's one of those books where not a lot happens---there is a lot going on, but it unwinds slowly. I liked it though, in this book. It took me about 50 or so pages to really get involved with the characters, but after that I was hooked. I would really like to see the cloak Syd made North. I bet it's gorgeous. This would make such a good movie...
I love, love, love that our heroine is so powerful yet doesn't know it. It was so much fun to watch her grow, learn and except what she was, a jinx. She wasn't just a wizard who could perform magic, she could actually create it. I would have loved to have seen that evolve more and find out what she really could do. I adore North and I am glad that they are going to get a happy ending.
1,25 🌟 Ich weiß gar nicht, wo ich anfangen soll. Der Schreibstil war für mich persönlich recht gewöhnungsbedürftig, was mich auf Abstand zum Geschehen und zu den Charakteren gehalten hat. Von diesen konnte ich mir auch kein rechtes Bild machen, ich fand keinen Draht, sie waren nicht meins. Die Welt genauso. Für mich war quasi kein Worldbuilding vorhanden, zumindest hat in meinem Kopf keines stattgefunden. Ich hatte auch zu Ende kein Bild davon, wie diese Welt funktioniert, wie genau die Magie funktioniert... Wenn mich ein Buch abholt, habe ich Bilder beim Kopf und wenn es nur Landschaften sind oder grobe Ideen von Figuren. Hier hat mein Kopf einfach gar nichts gemacht. Die Idee an sich war super nett, für mich persönlich passte die Umsetzung nicht. Wer aber Interesse an diesem Buch hat, möge das selbst ausprobieren und ihm eine Chance geben. Nicht jeder Mensch ist gleich und ihr könntet das Buch wirklich mögen.
I loved it. I truly enjoyed this book and wanted so much for North and Sydelle. But the book does have its flaws, possibly rookie or part of Bracken’s style. Resolution, world-building, character development, plot (episodic) and not sure what I would call the things brought up but not given their due mention.
Resolution: First of all, North is not cured. His curse is not yet broken. How can we not know if North is cured?! Can Syd help him? What happens?! Also, Dorwan is still alive...
Does Syd ever learn to control her magic? Direct it, be able to use it for good rather than random destruction, perhaps through her weaving? How much more powerful is North’s new cloak that Syd weaved for him?
Some events and aspects of the story were not as fully developed as I would have liked. Greater detail would have cleared up most of the problematic sections, though a few were given time and attention, but never shown to be as important as they appear to be from the amount of words written about them and the emphasis put upon them. (i.e Sydelle’s dream, the cloak, wizards being drawn to Syd,etc.)Sydelle saw the threads coming from her to the ground, to the world. Thought it was a reoccurring dream. We never heard how North’s father’s death was connected to saving North’s life. What had North been doing since leaving Dorwan and his subsequent split with his mother? Then there are Sydelle’s abilities, how they work. What a jinx is. The magic system is in general not explained. There is little snippets here and there, but not nearly enough to get a good grasp of it. Barely anything about the larger socio-political issues at play, although religious and cultural differences play a large role in the conflict that is supposed to be at the heart of the plot and which would have really enriched this secondary world.
Some scenes were too short that I thought should have been extended of given more depth to let the emotions clearly through, like the scene when Syd leaves home, comes back after running away, as she recovers from poisoning, and duel and aftermath, argument with Henry, w/ North, her reunion with North and the journey home.
Some of the character’s were terribly opaque. Seems as if they were just there to set in motion some event or change in someone’s perspective without any true motives of their own, or needs or wants or quirks that would help them stand out as individuals in their own right. (Eglantine, Sorceress Imperial, Oliver, even Owaine. Esp. Henry.) I would love to see them all as people, rather than cut-outs that force the plot along.
Henry as a love interest was tiresome and annoying. Still, had Sydelle never left Clifton, I could see her marrying him. She might never have been content. However, her love for North would not be as real if she had never had something or someone to choose. If she has no other options, big deal. It is what you choose that makes the difference
I would have loved to have heard some of North’s thoughts. (I adore both perspectives.) His history, his thoughts. To see how his attitude towards Sydelle changed as he travels with her and gets to know her. When she runs away, when she is poisoned. When he realized she’d need to die to cure him and deciding against that. The duel and afterwards, when he knows she left him behind and is out there by herself. Meeting his mother and Oliver again, arguing with them over Syd, seeing Syd and Henry, going after Syd, what happened with the negotiations. When Syd tells him she wants to go home and him finally asking her whether she wants him around. And, what does the cloak feel like to North? What does Syd? North feels warm to Syd – is that unique to North, since she does not feel it around other magicians? Is it due to his magic or his curse?
Some parts of the plot were not developed much, or in ways that were less than logical, especially the letters that Sydelle sent back to her village. Her village was taken over and she had just escaped. Exactly how are these letters being delivered? How is she getting replies? That whole situation. *sigh* Also, there was very little urgency or focus given to the war plot, which seems like it would be a very grave concern. Sydelle changes her attitude toward North very suddenly and a more gradual change would be more believable.
Is there a larger reason why jinxes were killed? Is there more to it than their causing natural disasters and/or possibly giving one person or another more power if they use their blood? Did the wizards fear them? Did they ever consider that rather than a walking disaster, “jinxes” were a precious and needed part of the world of magic?
So, now that I have explained all the reasons why this would normally receive two stars, probably three, I have gone ahead and given it four. (I was going to give it five, but I could not totally ignore some of the technical aspects and knocked off one.)Because while all these elements might bother you, dear prospective reader, or did in fact make it impossible for you to enjoy it, I found that in the end, after all my rambling and questions and frustrations, I still had a great time reading this story and it is a story I feel happy to share with others. And best of all, I want to hear the rest! I’d love to hear some of this from North’s side and most of all I want to hear more of their story and I want to have the chance to see where they go!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
So, as is my wont, I’ve been reading some of the more negative reviews on the book over at Goodreads and I must say that I disagree with them. All of them. Because I totally loved the book. People have called the book (amongst other things) “boring” and claimed that they have stopped reading after page two. You know, if you can’t manage to finish at least half the book, you have no right to “review” it because the word suggests that you have read the book enough to synthesize a well informed opinion on it that is justified. Sorry for the tangent, it just annoys me so much when people don’t read the entire book and presume to know everything about it. I mean, I’ve given up halfway through for some books and I have reviewed them because I figure if the book cannot reel me in by the time it’s done halfway, it never will. Anyway. Moving on.
This book was awesome in so many ways. I liked how the story starts off slow but gains momentum gradually until things are happening and they are happening fast. While I liked Sydelle a lot, the main attraction for me was North. He was a real person instead of a collection of stereotypes in a nice sparkly shell. He had his flaws, oh did he ever, but he was so damned endearing that you can’t help but accept him, warts and all. And no, there never was a moment where you get a prickly conflicted sense which signals that while the romantic stupid girl in you is kinda touched, the woman in you is pissed off. Thank God for that.Very often, I have noticed in my readings that the heroes, or the love interests in the YA novels I usually read are not really people. I mean, they are perfect projections of people but not real in the sense that you may recognize them instantly as that annoying but cute boy who sits beside you in Korean. That’s why North was such a pleasure to read. Being real and all.
I thought the story was well constructed. The author knew the exact amount of detail to put in so that envisioning the surroundings and the settings was easy without being overwhelming about the colour of the sky for instance (it’s blue but not a big blue, a small blue, like the little forget me nots early in the morning). The side characters were well created and the ending was satisfying. I just wish it was the first one in a series but unfortunately, it’s not. Unless, hopefully, maybe, the author changes her mind. Anyway, if you haven’t read this, don’t pay any attention to the negative reviews and read it. Make up your own mind because they’ll tell you no and I’m telling you that you’d be a fool not to.
This book was simply Amazing!! I don't even know where to start. I had high expectations for this book and I couldn't have been happier with it! This was exactly the kind of escape that I crave in my fantasy book. Alexandra Bracken did not disappoint!
Brightly Woven is a colorfully vivid fantasy with enchanting magic that will lead you on a journey that is beyond your imagination. Every place and name is etched so richly through out this novel. I could actually see the places and touch the faces. It was strikingly well written. Ever character were so distinguished, each adding flavor to the story. Owain is brilliant! He's funny, wise and loyal. He was a great, great, addition to this story. I adore Sydelle with all her fierce and feisty firecracker ways. So much strength and kindness in such a character. North was exasperating and insufferable at times, but he's also complicated, tortured, charming and every bit just as a confused vulnerable young man with a broken soul. Together they are now one my favorite love stories of all time.
The plot was wickedly thought out. Seriously, I never knew where this adventure would take me next. It's sharp, clever and I was eagerly anticipating where we would find these two next. With these kind of fantasy stories I wasn't sure I'd understand the politics of it all, but the way it's written gave me a clear understanding to what I was reading. It's fascinating how much creativity went into such an ingenious storyline.
Brightly Woven weaves an unforgettable high fantasy gem that I couldn't get enough of. I only hope we get more from this world. I haven't had enough of Sydelle and North. Highly entertaining, highly recommended. Anyone with the need for a great escape should look to this brilliant book!
Congrats Alexandra Bracken on a FANTASTIC debut!! I loved every single minute of it. More Please:)
How fun was this book! It has a little bit of everything; magic, adventure, romance and mystery.
Fantasy is my favorite genre, it always has been, so Brightly Woven already had that going for it before I even started. I went into the book expecting to love it. And for the most part I did.
It was beautifully written, simplistic, but engaging. It was easy to get lost in this story, and the writing played a critical role in that. The plot was just as intricate as the woven strands in Sydelle's creations. I didn't even try to guess what was going to happen, because I failed miserably at every attempt. Initially the plot was a little slow moving. Even though we were getting to know the characters and having them start their adventure it still took me a while to be thoroughly engaged. I'm not sure exactly why, I guess it was because I had just meet Sydelle and I didn't really get to learn about her as a person before we were whisked off to a far away land. If that makes any sense at all.
There was a lot of mystery shrouding the characters in this novel. I enjoyed that aspect immensely, but at the same time it kept me from really connecting with one in particular. There was a distance I felt with North and Sydelle that I wished I could have diminished a lot sooner. Although I did love North and Sydelle, I think that my favorite character was Owain. I delighted in his brief appearances in the story. Something about him was so genuine, I can't imagine the novel without him.
This was a fantastic debut and I really hope to see more from Bracken soon! I'd love a continuation of this story, even though it did wrap up nicely.
If I had read this novel when it was first released, I probably would have loved it. But reading it now, it's very obvious this was Bracken's debut. I liked the premise of Brightly Woven, but it just seemed a bit disjointed...like essential and non-essential elements were missing that would've made the story feel more complete, more coherent. And the tone felt all over the place, as well. Her writing, however, has come a long way from this first attempt, and her The Darkest Minds series even graces my favorites shelf.
I read this book a while ago now, but I wanted to wait until the happy hormones died so that I wouldn't sound like a gushing idiot :L Unfortunately, they still seem to be there, so I apologise in advance for my fawning, because I loved, loved, LOVED this book (:
I can't remember the last time I was so excited over a book - I actually pre-ordered it, something I've never done before. When it finally came (and I finished squealing), I just sat there for a while and stroked the cover (awesome cover for a awesome book). Reading the blurb, it seemed like it had everything I covet in a book - magic, adventure, faraway lands, mystery, intrigue, and of course, romance. It screamed 'book heaven' to me, but I was afraid my excitement would lead me to be disappointed with the end product.
Although it wasn’t quite what I expected it to be, for the first time in too long I can say that this wasn’t a bad thing. Brightly Woven isn’t one of those books that makes your heart give out with adrenaline; no massive explosions and multiple deaths and what have you. Sure, there are moments of suspense and danger, but these worked so well due to my love for the characters and genuine concern for how they'd fare. It's been too long since I’ve sat down and read a genuinely lovely story, something heart warming and absorbing at the same time that never becomes cheesy or generic. BW full of such originality and charm and written so well that I am completely astounded Alexandra Bracken is a first time author. I’ve read books of authors who’ve been writing since the dinosaurs who are peanuts compared to this lady, honestly :L
The world created in Brightly Woven is so unlike anything I’ve read in ages; I’m sick of constantly reading books and having to compare them with others because there’s no original material there. If I’m honest, I went into reading BW expecting a Howl’s Moving Castle-esque story, which I’m sure a lot of people have drawn comparisons with due to the summary. Although on the surface they seem much alike, I can say that BW is in fact very different to HMC. Aside from the fact that they’re both fabulous stories about magic and wizardry, I actually thought (cue virtual tomatoes) that BW was better than HMC - the story and the characters were so much more fleshed out in comparison.
Ah, the characters... They’re just a total joy to read. The dialogue between Sydelle and North, our two fabulous protagonists, is sharp and witty. Every word was made to count, and I ended up wishing Bracken would have written more, not because the book needed it but because I wasn’t ready to let go. I guess I’m so used to authors waffling about unimportant things, or not giving me enough info about character’s thoughts, which are both problems that can occur easily in first person. BW is told from Sydelle’s POV, and is a brilliant example of how first person should be written. It was refreshing to read a book with a heroine who doesn’t actually make me want to jump off a cliff, and I liked Sydelle immensely within the first few pages. She does do some things later in the novel that made me want to shake her, but regardless she maintains an air of realism and charm about her throughout the whole book that made me unable to do anything but like her.
Wayland North, our ‘hero’ of the story, was a breath of fresh air. Basically, I completely heart him, for his personality more than his ‘hotness’. Bracken broke away from the stereotypical hot but tortured cardboard cut out pretty boy we’re all so used to being force fed in YA, and gave us a character who is tortured, but is actually realistic. North isn’t perfect; he has many flaws, which Syd likes to point out a lot in the first half of the book. These mainly consist of his tendency to drink a little too much and bathe too little, and his drunken escapades in front of Syd made me laugh out loud a few times. But he’s not ‘a drunken brute’, as Syd referred to him; there’s a reason he acts like he does, and when we find out you truly feel for him. Here is a character who is not untouchable; he’s complex, and vulnerable, in a way that many 18 year old guys are. He has an endearing and lovable air about him that makes you love him while still maintaining that air of mystery that makes girls swoon. If anything, I was sorry we didn’t see more of North; he still has a very big problem to sort out, and I'm curious to see how he and Syd will deal with it.
I’m nearly 100% sure there will be a sequel; it would be an absolute travesty if there weren’t, there’s so much potential for greatness in the world Bracken dreamed up. Alexandra Bracken is a truly talented writer, the kind that makes me want to pick up a pen and write a story half as good, and I’ll read anything else she writes (which she must, since she’s too brilliant not to). If she comes up with anything close in scale to Brightly Woven, I’d be ecstatic. :) I think I have only a handful of books that have ticked so many of my fantasy geek boxes, the last one being the Poison Throne, and Brightly Woven has climbed right up in my favourites. It’s the kind of book that makes me dread going back to reading afterwards, as I just know whatever I read next won’t be as good. Stories as amazing as this only come around once in a blue moon, something that’s truly sad considering the number of books that are published in YA every year.
Brightly Woven is an utterly charming, totally absorbing and wonderfully engaging read, something that makes your imagination soar and leaves you giddy with happiness after finishing it. Magical, mysterious, full of amazingly drawn characters and brilliant world building, it's an epic story that still feels intimate, something I don’t think I’ve ever experienced before. I felt as if I travelled with North and Syd through the dusty towns and dangerous duels, and went through it all with them. I came away from Brightly Woven feeling as if I’d just experienced something truly special, as if I and not Alexandra Bracken’s very lucky friend had received the (belated) birthday gift :L
Brightly Woven is the type of story that reminds me why I love to read books, and why YA literature is far from dead & buried. May many more follow! =)
maybe i just hate men, but the love interest in this book was the most manipulative mf in literature. and even worse is that everything he did/said was painted out to be aww-so-troubled. he literally put a leash on her without her knowing and then when she found out it was fight, no apology, and then “awww nvm he cares for me”. girl?? both of you need therapy for different reasons.
i only read this so i could say i finally finished all YA bracken books. 2.8 for enjoyment, 3.00 objectively.
For those of you who are book bloggers, I'm sure you know what I'm talking about when I say this: Have you ever read a book that causes your heart to break when you turn the last page because it's over? What about one that has you wanting to call your best friend at 3 in the morning in order to tell her all about it? Well, guys, I'm happy to say that Brightly Woven did all this for me and more.
First of all, I couldn't believe that this was Alexandra Bracken's first novel. It's so incredibly well-written--the characters, the writing style, the plot--everything ties together beautifully. I can't even begin to express how impressed I was with this book!
The world Bracken created was vivid and unique, as were the characters. The plot moved at the perfect pace, hinting at things but not making them overwhelmingly obvious. I had a lot of trouble putting the book down, and I read it in just a few hours!
This is going to be a shorter review than usual, because I don't have much to say other than this: if you've ever loved fantasy, romance, action, or just a good book in general, you need to give this one a shot in the near future.
As of now, there's no sequel planned, and while Brightly Woven definitely can stand on its own, I would love to see this turn into a series. Hmmm....looks like it's time for me to start pestering Egmont...
In a Sentence: Brightly Woven is an absolutely stunning debut novel that you should read ASAP!