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.I first saw the cover of Brightly Woven in December of 2009, and my jaw instantly hit the floor. When I realized that not only is the cover gorgeous but also that it is an epic fantasy, I knew that I needed to own Brightly Woven. Full of magic, action and romance, this story proved to be just as epic as the cover that drew me in.
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.
Brightly Woven is a fitting title for this novel not only because of the pot, but because of how the book is written. Even though this is epic fantasy, Bracken doesn’t just hit the reader with world-building like a ton of bricks. Instead, it’s carefully woven into the story. Oftentimes a new plot twist would uncover a new element of Bracken’s world, or in dialogue. Yet even if Bracken had used verbose descriptions of her world, I still would have soaked them up like a sponge. Bracken’s writing is simple yet gorgeous.
Of course, I’ve got to mention North, who nearly every blogger has been swooning over. If you’ve swooned over North, I’m going to be straight with you: I spent the first half of the book thinking that you were crazy. About halfway through, however, it clicked for me. I don’t want to say any more at risk of being spoilery.
Brightly Woven is a brilliant debut novel, and while it’s gotten many positive reviews in the blogosphere, I think it deserves more praise than what it’s already gotten. I urge all of you fantasy lovers to go out and buy this book. You want that gorgeous cover in your personal collection, right? I look forward to reading Bracken’s future work, and will be hoping that one day she shares more stories set in this world.
Disclosure: I purchased a copy of this book.