I loved it. I truly enjoyed this book and wanted so much for North and Sydelle. But the book does have its flaws, possibly rookie or part of Bracken’s style. Resolution, world-building, character development, plot (episodic) and not sure what I would call the things brought up but not given their due mention.
Resolution: First of all, North is not cured. His curse is not yet broken. How can we not know if North is cured?! Can Syd help him? What happens?! Also, Dorwan is still alive...
Does Syd ever learn to control her magic? Direct it, be able to use it for good rather than random destruction, perhaps through her weaving? How much more powerful is North’s new cloak that Syd weaved for him?
Some events and aspects of the story were not as fully developed as I would have liked. Greater detail would have cleared up most of the problematic sections, though a few were given time and attention, but never shown to be as important as they appear to be from the amount of words written about them and the emphasis put upon them. (i.e Sydelle’s dream, the cloak, wizards being drawn to Syd,etc.)Sydelle saw the threads coming from her to the ground, to the world. Thought it was a reoccurring dream. We never heard how North’s father’s death was connected to saving North’s life. What had North been doing since leaving Dorwan and his subsequent split with his mother? Then there are Sydelle’s abilities, how they work. What a jinx is. The magic system is in general not explained. There is little snippets here and there, but not nearly enough to get a good grasp of it. Barely anything about the larger socio-political issues at play, although religious and cultural differences play a large role in the conflict that is supposed to be at the heart of the plot and which would have really enriched this secondary world.
Some scenes were too short that I thought should have been extended of given more depth to let the emotions clearly through, like the scene when Syd leaves home, comes back after running away, as she recovers from poisoning, and duel and aftermath, argument with Henry, w/ North, her reunion with North and the journey home.
Some of the character’s were terribly opaque. Seems as if they were just there to set in motion some event or change in someone’s perspective without any true motives of their own, or needs or wants or quirks that would help them stand out as individuals in their own right. (Eglantine, Sorceress Imperial, Oliver, even Owaine. Esp. Henry.) I would love to see them all as people, rather than cut-outs that force the plot along.
Henry as a love interest was tiresome and annoying. Still, had Sydelle never left Clifton, I could see her marrying him. She might never have been content. However, her love for North would not be as real if she had never had something or someone to choose. If she has no other options, big deal. It is what you choose that makes the difference
I would have loved to have heard some of North’s thoughts. (I adore both perspectives.) His history, his thoughts. To see how his attitude towards Sydelle changed as he travels with her and gets to know her. When she runs away, when she is poisoned. When he realized she’d need to die to cure him and deciding against that. The duel and afterwards, when he knows she left him behind and is out there by herself. Meeting his mother and Oliver again, arguing with them over Syd, seeing Syd and Henry, going after Syd, what happened with the negotiations. When Syd tells him she wants to go home and him finally asking her whether she wants him around. And, what does the cloak feel like to North? What does Syd? North feels warm to Syd – is that unique to North, since she does not feel it around other magicians? Is it due to his magic or his curse?
Some parts of the plot were not developed much, or in ways that were less than logical, especially the letters that Sydelle sent back to her village. Her village was taken over and she had just escaped. Exactly how are these letters being delivered? How is she getting replies? That whole situation. *sigh* Also, there was very little urgency or focus given to the war plot, which seems like it would be a very grave concern. Sydelle changes her attitude toward North very suddenly and a more gradual change would be more believable.
Is there a larger reason why jinxes were killed? Is there more to it than their causing natural disasters and/or possibly giving one person or another more power if they use their blood? Did the wizards fear them? Did they ever consider that rather than a walking disaster, “jinxes” were a precious and needed part of the world of magic?
So, now that I have explained all the reasons why this would normally receive two stars, probably three, I have gone ahead and given it four. (I was going to give it five, but I could not totally ignore some of the technical aspects and knocked off one.)Because while all these elements might bother you, dear prospective reader, or did in fact make it impossible for you to enjoy it, I found that in the end, after all my rambling and questions and frustrations, I still had a great time reading this story and it is a story I feel happy to share with others. And best of all, I want to hear the rest! I’d love to hear some of this from North’s side and most of all I want to hear more of their story and I want to have the chance to see where they go!