Brightly Woven, Alexandra Bracken

A drought has held Sydelle’s village in a strangle-hold since she was seven. They’ve survived by selling sand to glass-makers, but sand will only buy so much water for a whole community. The government sent wizards to try and fix the drought- but nothing worked, so yeah, maybe they’ll try again later. Maybe. One sand-producing village isn’t of THAT much strategic importance. So when a wizard appears out of the hills and makes the heavens open, her family and neighbours are almost delirious with thanks. They promise him anything he wants in payment.

The wizard, whose name is North, wants Sydelle.

Understandably, the community is creeped out by this. But they don’t have too much time to be creeped out, because North wasn’t causing rain to help them. He was trying to bog down the army that’s coming over that hill. Which is- y’know- of strategic importance to the kingdom. Panicing as the enemy approaches the town, her parents throw Sydelle’s belongings into a pack and agree that she can go with North, as his assistant, as he heads for the capital to tell IMPORTANT PEOPLE that the surrounding kingdoms are occupying little towns and filling them with soldiers, ready for the big push for the capital.

And, before you start going WHAT IS THIS BOOK DOING IN THE YA SECTION, know that the Wizard/assistant relationship is a lot like the Dr/Companion relationship. (Yay for Dr. Who references!) At least that’s how it starts. But this book at heart is a romance, and about two pretty messed up people too boot. One of the people is messed up BEFORE, and one GETS more messed up as situations progress.

However, as I think I’ve mentioned before, I’m picky about romances. I don’t believe in all of them, and this was one where I just wasn’t tracking the relationship progression. We were going along, working on stopping a war, and then all the sudden everything was VITALLY IMPORTANT and ROMANTIC and SERIOUS, and we’re all but kissing each other’s feet. Meanwhile, I’m still stuck up on the poisoner and rouge magicians, and the IMMINENT WAR. Um, over here? Shiny swords heading over the border? *points at army threatening to burn civilian villages*

So for me, the book was slightly lackluster. I couldn’t really figure out the religious element, the romance gave me whiplash, and I was eternally confused by the lack of urgency on part of the MCs. I also was in a mood to argue theology when I read it, I am romantically impaired, and I both come from a military family and was raised on tales of spies sneaking information vital to the war effort into the capital. So I am guessing that all the things that made me go huh? wouldn’t bother most people. And despite the wait, what moments, I did quite like it. I gave it three stars out of five. I would pass it to my sisters who were over the age of 12, if asked.

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