Arras is rigidly monitored by the Guild to ensure prosperity and peace. The weave of the world is carefully manipulated by Spinsters working for the Guild to control everything from rations to the weather itself. Life as a Spinster holds untold promise with wealth, beauty, celebrity, and rarest of all power.
Adelice Lewys wants none of it.
Adelice knows the moment her hands slip on the testing loom is one she can never take back. Her years of training to be clumsy and artless, to fail when the time came to be tested, have been a waste.
Now the Guild will come for her.
It also means Adelice can never go home again.
As Adelice learns more about the Guild’s agenda and her own role in their plans, the more desperate she becomes to escape. But when everything is pre-determined and manipulated by Spinsters, Adelice wonders if she can ever truly be free in Crewel (2012) by Gennifer Albin.
Crewel is Albin’s first novel. It is also the first book in her Crewel World trilogy.
Crewel is an interesting dystopian with nods to the sleek, fashionable atmosphere of Madmen as well as the bleak world of A Handmaid’s Tale which potentially sounds like an uneasy combination but manages to work well albeit without much explanation or world building to support either element.
Albin begins to introduce a complex world uniquely and unexpectedly centered around weaving but much like the sartorial decisions in the story there is little explanation as to why Arras works the way it does. (The how is similarly murky with painfully few references to actual weaving terms throughout.)
Adelice was also a very frustrating heroine. Trapped in a society that devalues and denigrates women, Adelice is often irritatingly one-dimensional as she spouts much of the society’s dogma even while she is trying to fight against that very same society.*
Crewel has all the markings of a blockbuster dystopian read with thrills, twists, and a smart-mouthed heroine ready with choice remarks for love interests and villains alike. Albin’s writing is also often beautiful and strongly evokes Adelice’s world and her vision of the weave itself. Unfortunately all of these decorative elements do little to mask the book’s ultimate lack of substance.
*I can’t get into details because it’s spoiler-iffic but let’s just say one character spends a lot of time jealous of another character’s deceased spouse and leave it at that.
Possible Pairings: Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken, Eve by Anna Carey, The Selection by Kiera Cass, The Jewel by Amy Ewing, Warped by Maurissa Guibord, Cinder by Marissa Meyer, Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood
*This book was acquired for review from the publisher at BEA 2012*