This summer I ended up checking more books out from the library than I was able to end up reading because, as usual, I got to a point where I grabbed every book that looked interesting at the moment and dragged them all home. Sometimes this leads to great finds but other times, well, it helps to be a bit more discerning.
Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken
Summary: Sydell lives in a rural, drought-ridden village and while she's intrigued by the wizard Wayland North who comes by she's not happy at all that he's chosen to drag her along in his journey to warn the new queen of an encroaching invasion, especially when he won't reveal why he chose to bring her along.
The Good: I liked how the story spent a decent amount of time on both how the magic system in this world actually worked (which was even a little different than usual!) and the local legends of the settings, those were by far the most interesting parts although in retrospect it might have been cooler to have the book set in the Arabic-inspired country instead of the generic-Western-European-inspired country that it actually was*.
The Bad: This book had plenty of elements I should have liked, some politics, interesting and well-defined magic, a setting with a history, yet in the end it just felt bland and not fully seasoned. Part of it was probably due to the very expected revelation that Sydell has Strange Powers (I would love more stories with non-powered main characters having to deal with characters around them who have powers, and not a superhero story since that idea has already been done I think), it just didn't gel together and make something really exciting to read. Also, Wayland North is a character with a large number of issues and for me I didn't find that his redeeming qualities overrode his issues and make him a likable character, frankly I found him more than a little bit crazy and was frustrated that the characters end up making excuses for him, not calling him and and saying that even though yes his life has been terrible but he still needs to act differently.
So I'm giving this book just 2.5 out of 5 stars for being an okay written book but also both being a bit boring and having a couple of problems which mean I can't really recommend it to anyone.
*hmm, just realized that since part of the conflict in this story is two countries who have the same basic legend but two different interpretations/versions of one part, and it's implied that the Arabic country is wrong and Sydell's country is right, yeah that feels a bit problematic.