Brightly Woven was originally a YA fantasy chapter book and has been adapted into a colorful graphic novel. While I liked the magic in this story, sadly, the graphic novel adaptation did not blow me away.

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The summary, from Amazon:

From #1 New York Times best-selling author Alexandra Bracken comes a magical graphic novel about discovering your own power, perfect for fans of the Amulet series and Howl’s Moving Castle.
Extraordinary things just don’t happen to fourteen-year-old Sydelle Mirabil, a talented weaver who dreams about life outside of her tiny village. But that all changes when a mysterious young wizard named Wayland North appears and asks for Sydelle’s help. He’s got a shocking secret that could stop a war between kingdoms – if he can reach the capital with the news in time. North needs a navigator who can mend his magical cloaks, and Sydelle is perfect for the job.
As Sydelle and North race against the clock to deliver their message, they must contend with unusually wild weather and a dark wizard who will do anything to stop them. But the sudden earthquakes and freak snowstorms may not be a coincidence. As Sydelle discovers more about North’s past and her own strange abilities, she realizes that the fate of the kingdom may rest in her fingertips.

Buy Brightly Woven: The Graphic Novel here.

I never read the original YA chapter book Brightly Woven, the the colorful cover of the graphic novel adaptation (appropriate content for middle grade) caught my eye. I love fantasy, but after reading so many excellent middle grade fantasy novels in 2021, this one just didn’t live up to my now lofty expectations.

Brightly Woven is about Sydelle, a 14-year-old girl who is a skillful weaver. A young wizard named Wayland North asks her to help him in navigating to the capital and to mend his magical cloaks as needed. The two journey together to deliver an important report in North’s possession.

The magic in Brightly Woven is so interesting. North is a wizard, and he uses the various colorful cloaks he wears to perform his magic. There was also a really interesting plot twist at the end that had me wanting to read more about Sydelle in a sequel, if we get one. (It doesn’t appear there was one for the original novel.)

Immediately I was aware that a ton was lost in translation when creating this adaptation. There is absolutely zero exposition, only pictures and dialog. I was left wondering why characters made the decisions they did at times. History and background information are never provided except through dialog, so there was so much about this world I didn’t understand. Even emotional scenes that could have been carried by dialog and images were cut. Even having not read the original novel, I was extremely aware of this. For example, in one scene, Sydelle reflects on a bracelet North gave her. In her memory, we see North putting it on her wrist. The two seem emotional, like there might be a crush involved. Sydelle feels betrayed by North while remembering this. I would have felt betrayed along with her if we had actually gotten to read this scene and not just a flashback panel.

Additionally, the art was either gorgeous or incredibly meh. Finally, I like a more diverse cast in my fantasy. There were some characters of color, but they all played very small roles. I just wasn’t a huge fan. This was just a 3 star read for me, and it’s only that many because the magic was so cool.

Find out more about how I rate books here.

Brightly Woven: The Graphic NovelBrightly Woven: The Graphic Novel by Alexandra Bracken
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a fun one but I felt like so much was missing. It’s a chapter book adaptation and a ton got lost in translation – I’ve never read the original. Needed exposition.

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Book Club Questions

  1. How do you imagine Sydelle’s future will be? Did you expect the twist at the end?
  2. For fans of the original novel, what was different and similar between these two versions?


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peacefully reading