[description from goodreads]
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.
Normally I avoid hardcore fantasy at all cost because I can never keep track of who is who and what the magic rules are, among other reasons, but I easily followed Brightly Woven and ended up really enjoying it.
All the summaries I read prior to reading mentioned the war going on, so I was expecting to see much more of it in the book. However, even though the war is mostly only talked about until the end, I was not disappointed with the plot. The book starts off relatively quickly and there's nonstop action from there. When there wasn't a battle/duel going on, or when another magical person wasn't showing up, Sydelle was finding out more about the (awesome) North and his motives, so there was a nice balance of action and mystery. Trying to guess North's motives and Sydelle's true self was fun, and getting all the answers in the wonderfully exciting ending was extremely satisfying.
The character development and relationships were a little off for me, as I sometimes felt that there were parts of the book missing. It might have been because there was a lot going on, or because I was reading in very short sittings and sometimes I skim overly descriptive things, but it seemed like I missed parts. I understood what was going on, but, for example, it seemed that North and Sydelle were oddly comfortable with each other very early on in their journey. Their character development was lovely- Sydelle was strong and dealt with her own problems in spite of danger, and North was delightfully rogue-ish (yay for not being able to find a proper adjective!)- but their relationship was a bit odd. It all made more sense at the end, but the whole time it felt like there was more going on that wasn't being talked about.
Brightly Woven is an action-packed, amusing read and I'm hoping there's a sequel or companion because 1) I want more North! and 2) there's so much more that can be explored.
Book details: EgmontUSA/Hardcover/$16.99
Links: Alexandra's website, blog/twitter