Crewel by Gennifer Albin
To be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux BYR on October 16, 2012
Source: Received e-ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss.
Plot Summary for Crewel by Gennifer Albin
In a world run by the Guild, there are few freedoms. The soldiers come for Adelice unexpectedly, tearing her away from her family during dinner. When she tries to run, she's jailed, then offered a future that other girls dream of: life as a Spinster, a girl who weaves the very fabric of life. She'll have the power to create and destroy.
Review of Crewel by Gennifer Albin
The first couple chapters of Crewel left me with a strong sense of deja-vu. A girl is torn from her family by a cruel and arbitrary selection process. The girl has to leave her adorable and much beloved younger sister. She meets her mentor, a guy who drinks too much. She's primped by a stylist in preparation for her duties to come.
After that, Crewel takes on an identity all its own. The book's fairy tale setting and matriarchal leanings make it a gentler, more beguiling story than the Hunger Games. Spinsters and weavers have long been a staple of myth and fairy tale. Think Rumplestiltskin, Sleeping Beauty, or Odysseus' wife Penelope, who told her suitors that she'd remarry when her weaving was finished, then craftily unraveled her work each night. The Greek Fates were also goddesses who spun out the lives of men.
Crewel evokes a world in which men hold the power. However, talented spinsters like Adelice have the ability to weave time and matter. Spinsters can remove "weak threads" from the fabric of life, literally ending the existence of another with a tug and a snip.
Adelice is such a gifted weaver that her parents feared for her and wanted her to hide her abilities. After her attempted escape, the Guild is willing to overlook the small problem of Adelice trying to flee from her destiny.
She learns that she has two secret talents above and beyond the average spinster, talents which come in handy as she navigates the hierarchy of spinsters and flirts with both a lowly valet and an ambitious young guard. If that sounds like a love triangle, don't worry. At least in this first installment of the Crewel World series, the threesome didn't seem to be headed in that direction.
Crewel weaves together such a fascinating and original story world that some of the characters felt a little flat to me in comparison. But with such imaginative world building, I'd argue that this represents only a tiny snag in a truly stunning tapestry.
Crewel ends on the requisite YA series cliffhanger -- in fact, the plot spins off into a VERY unexpected direction at the end. Highly recommended to fans of fairy tales, fantasy, and historical fiction.