Brightly Woven is one of my earlier Want Books picks. I was so excited when it was released last March and I put up a reservation in Fully Booked. Unfortunately, they didn’t order any copies but they did say that I could have it specially ordered. Special order is a service that they offer for books that they don’t have in stock. You can ask them to order a certain book for no extra charge and no down payment. It’ll just take around four weeks to get here. So you can imagine my excitement when I finally got my copy. Okay, my marketing spiel for Fully Booked ends here. Sorry, I just love this service and I know you’ve heard me complain about availability several times so this service solves that problem!
Anyway, here’s the summary from Alexandra Bracken’s website:
Sydelle Mirabil is living proof that, with a single drop of rain, a life can be changed forever. Tucked away in the farthest reaches of the kingdom, her dusty village has suffered under the weight of a strangely persistent drought. That is, of course, until a wizard wanders into town and brings the rain with him.
In return for this gift, Wayland North is offered any reward he desires — and no one is more surprised than Sydelle when, without any explanation, he chooses her. Taken from her home, Sydelle hardly needs encouragement to find reasons to dislike North. He drinks too much and bathes too little, and if that isn’t enough to drive her to madness, North rarely even uses the magic he takes such pride in possessing. Yet, it’s not long before she realizes there’s something strange about the wizard, who is as fiercely protective of her as he is secretive about a curse that turns his limbs a sinister shade of black and leaves him breathless with agony. Unfortunately, there is never a chance for her to seek answers.
Along with the strangely powerful quakes and storms that trace their path across the kingdom, other wizards begin to take an inexplicable interest in her as well, resulting in a series of deadly duels. Against a backdrop of war and uncertainty, Sydelle is faced with the growing awareness that these events aren’t as random as she had believed — that no curse, not even that of Wayland North, is quite as terrible as the one she herself may carry.
First off, I just wanted to comment that I really like the cover of this one. It’s so pretty, isn’t it? It features the main character: Sydelle, the skillful weaver with the unusual red hair. I actually had a hard time getting into this book. I don’t know if it’s because I was kept from reading it in one go because life kept eating up my reading time. Initially, I found it hard to empathize with Sydelle. It seemed like she was always throwing tantrums and was always mad at North for some reason. I know, I know, she was suddenly removed from familiar surroundings and was forced to accompany a stranger. My opinion changed as the story progressed and I’m glad I enjoyed going along with Sydelle on her quest to do something for her country.
I remember Angie mentioned in her review that North reminded her of Howl. She has a point – both of them are flamboyant, arrogant wizards who are fond of drinking. But North is his own person and he has his unique points. I like that his talisman, the object he uses to wield his magic, is a cloak and he has several cloaks in various colors for certain kinds of magic. It’s a great idea to pair that with Sydelle’s weaving skills. As with all quests, the characters tend to travel the land and encounter all sorts of difficulties before they can accomplish their task. The world building in this one was fresh and easy to fall into. It’s interesting how magic is tied to their faith and how they believe the goddess gifted wizards with magic to protect the land. I would love to read a companion novel to this and explore the world more. Brightly Woven is a satisfying fantasy read featuring a wizard and a weaver. Highly recommended for fans of Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones and The Changeover by Margaret Mahy, both of which feature wacky wizards.