by Alexandra Bracken
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. (goodreads.com)
You may or may not have heard of this book. I had seen it around on many blogs but to be honest I never really paid it .much attention. Sure the cover is pretty and colourful but for some reason (don’t ask why) I thought it was about quilting. I kid you not. I thought this book was about some pilgrim girl who made quilts or something and therefore the idea of it bored me. I honestly have no idea how that got in my head. Did I read the summaries on the blogs I saw the book on? I don’t know. I guess not well if that’s what I thought.
This book is beautiful, beautiful fantasy. I love fantasy! How the heck did I not pick up on that! It wasn’t until my Twin Brooke at BrookReviews sent me a message asking if I had a copy and if not would I like her arc because she thought I would love it that I paid more attention to what the book was about. I also went back and read Kristi’s review at The Story Siren because I had passed it over when I thought the book was about quilting (seriously, HOW?). And I checked out reviews on Goodreads. In the end I accepted Brooke’s generous gift and while I was away at BEA it arrived!
I sat down to read the book and instantly enjoyed the world that Bracken had created. I liked Sydelle a whole bunch and I could tell by the rhythm of the writing that I would enjoy reading the book. My one problem with the story was North. I couldn’t really get a feel for him and the (expected) love that blossomed between the two was a little “I blinked and Syd went from hating him to being completely in love with him, wha..?. I didn’t see the connection happen I guess. I mean I knew it would happen but when it did I felt there was no reason for it to happen. No real build up.
Aside from that I thought this was a wonderful one-book story. Things weren’t rushed and I was able to follow the action and the resolution. I was surprised by the Queen character as I didn’t think she would be anything like she was written and that surprise pleased me. I didn’t like her completely but she was nothing like I thought she was going to be.
I suppose the ending is a little open ended, I don’t know if this is planned to be a series or not. I think I like it just fine as a stand alone novel and it worked well. The writing was beautiful, the description was beautiful and I even found beauty when Syd was weaving (a cloak, not a quilt!).
I went into this novel not knowing what to expect and ended up feeling that this is one of the better fantasy novels I have read in a while. I would suggest it to fantasy lovers who have enjoyed Maria V. Snyder’s Poison Study series. I don’t necessarily find that it’s only YA.