Wandering through some spectacular gardens Saturday on the Mapleton-Whittier garden tour, I realized how magical nature can be. One garden in particular came with its own fantasy story and transported me to another place and time. A man-made stream meandered through the two acre garden and the lush foliage harbored hidden ponds and statuary that were a complete delight. The garden would have been a perfect place to curl up with Alexandra Bracken's debut fantasy entitled Brightly Woven, which I happened to be reading last weekend. It tells the story of a weaver who accompanies a rogue wizard on a quest through a mystical world to save their homeland.
After Wayland North ends the drought in her village, Sydelle, a 16-year-old weaver, is given to the wizard as payment for his services. She s finds herself accompanying him to the capital in a race to prevent a war with neighboring countries. At first she is furious, but gradually she comes to care for him as she realizes they are together by design, not by accident. They are plagued by wild weather, North's strange illness and a vengeful wizard who is stalking them. Sydelle is mysteriously able to mend North's magical cloaks without disturbing the magic, and she begins to recognize that she has magical powers of her own. As their journey progesses Sydelle discovers that North is harboring a dark secret about their shared destiny.
Readers are going to find this charismatic pair and their breathtaking adventure irresistable. Wayland is an alluring tortured soul, who is curiously devoted to the strong feisty Sydelle, despite her sharp tongue and failure to comply with his wishes. Brightly Woven is a fresh take on an archetypical fantasy story, that will find readers clamoring for a sequel.