Goodreads: Brightly Woven: The Graphic Novel
Sydelle Mirabil is content enough in her village, until the wizard Wayland North appears. He claims to have evidence that will stop a war, but he needs to get to the capital before war is declared. He takes Sydelle as his navigator, and to help repair his magical cloaks. But it may be Sydelle who saves them all.
Brightly Woven: The Graphic Novel adapts the novel of the same name, presenting the story in vibrant colors sure to appeal to tweens who enjoy reading comics. However, despite the appealing illustrations, the book lacks a cohesive plot, as well as any meaningful character development or worldbuilding. Ultimately, the book is a lackluster affair, one that draws in readers with its looks, but then fails to deliver.
Details about the setting of Brightly Woven are vague from the start, which features Sydelle gathering plants in a remote village, then meeting the wizard Wayland North. North announces to all and sundry that he has important intelligence exonerating a foreign nation from an evil deed that will bring their nations to war. However, he has to get to the capital in a few days’ time, but he is being pursued by enemies. He makes lots of explanations about how the mail service and messengers are untrustworthy (though he just trusted an entire random village with his secret and his life) to ensure that he has to go himself, on foot. Also, apparently he can teleport, but apparently conveniently not that far. At any rate, this almost all the worldbuilding readers are going to get for the rest of the novel, until they learn that somehow colorful cloaks are magical (what different colors mean and how they work remains unexplained) and there is a wizard organization (which is maybe kind of evil, but maybe not. Who knows.). In the end, it feels like Sydelle and North are moving through an empty wasteland, devoid of any meaningful geography, culture, or politics.
The character development does little to help save the story. Sydelle is pretty much a blank slate for readers to maybe project themselves onto. At any rate, she is a kind of standard small town girl who is swept up into a greater adventure. Sassy and smart. Presumably in love with the moody, mysterious wizard who took her travelling. But what her hopes and dreams, her fears, her motivations are readers will never know. Ultimately, she turns into a deux ex machina in a confusing and unexpected turn of events that rush by too quickly to feel meaningful.
North is perhaps worse than Sydelle in terms of character development. Readers mainly know that he is a wizard with a sad backstory pertaining to his father, and he has a teen wizard nemesis. How exactly all of this affects him or why readers should care remains unexplained. He also has magic, but what kind and how it works is a mystery. Sydelle appears to be in love with him, but readers may have to question why since he is so amazingly bland.
Ultimately, Brightly Woven left me confused and disappointed, unsure of what I had just read. The plot makes very little sense. The worldbuilding is all but nonexistent. The character development is severely lacking. The ending does leave room for a sequel, but it seems questionable how many readers will be interested in continuing reading a series where nothing is explained. The illustrations are well done, but they are not enough to salvage the work.