Thursday, November 4, 2010

Brightly Woven by Alexandria Bracken

Brightly WovenBrightly Woven by Alexandria Bracken (Egmont) tells the story of how Sydelle ends up the prize for Wayland North, a wizard who came to town and ended a drought in a way that stopped an invading army, and who needs someone to accompany him to report the enemy's actions. Sydelle is less than pleased, but she's also just a little excited to be getting out of her provincial life and maybe finding a way to share her remarkable weaving with the rest of the world. During the perilous journey, Sydelle discovers that North isn't all bad--and that her weaving might indicate more magic than she'd ever dreamed possible, which she'll need when she gets caught up in international machinations with no one to protect her.

Sydelle is a lovely heroine, and the book's opening reminds me of Sherwood Smith's best, with Sydelle somewhat older than Wren and younger than Meliara. Wayland North reminds me of Diana Wynne Jones's Howl, and in a good way, even though I find Howl's Moving Castle to be a frustrating read. (Edited to add: I'm not the only one who thought this!) I also found the writing to be even (though at times, I wondered if a sentence or paragraph had disappeared, because a thread would come up and not seem to be followed by a conclusion or transition) and the length to be, as Goldilocks would say, just right.

I read this book as a first-round judge for the Cybils Awards, which means that I may have received a review copy from the publisher (or not; I own a lot of the books in this category). I read some books nominated for the YA fantasy and science fiction category in 2010 before the nomination period, and may have already reviewed them or declined to make a public review; these books might not have a Cybils post tag. As a first-round judge, I was tasked with helping create a shortlist of books. My personal reviews do not reflect any actions or discussions of the judging committee.

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