CREWEL (Crewel World #1)
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Available October 16th
Received from publisher for review
Incapable. Awkward. Artless.
That’s what the other girls whisper behind her back. But sixteen year-old Adelice Lewys has a secret: she wants to fail.
with the ability to weave time with matter, she’s exactly what the
Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen as a
Spinster is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal
beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the
power to embroider the very fabric of life. But if controlling what
people eat, where they live and how many children they have is the price
of having it all, Adelice isn’t interested.
Not that her feelings matter, because she slipped and wove a moment at testing, and they’re coming for her—tonight.
she has one hour to eat her mom’s overcooked pot roast. One hour to
listen to her sister’s academy gossip and laugh at her Dad’s stupid
jokes. One hour to pretend everything’s okay. And one hour to escape.
Because once you become a Spinster, there’s no turning back.
Crewel is an utterly fascinating story, presenting us with a world that is literally woven together with threads created from a few raw materials and a great deal of imagination. With a select group of people in charge of every single aspect of life in Arras – from marriage, to food production, to death itself – the world should be perfect; no famine, sickness, or discord to act as blemishes on the flawless skin of utopia. What we quickly see in just a few chapters is how flawed the beauty of Arras truly is, and while we’re initially entranced by the possibility of such perfection through complete and unyielding control, our hearts and minds swiftly shift our allegiance, finding the discontent and the defiance of the few far more intriguing than the promise of a perfect life worse than death.
Young heroine Adelice is a girl with a bit of bite to her, openly fighting her fate once her parents lead by example, and unleashing a dry sense of humor and quick wit on those who are used to nothing other than blind obedience. In a world where women are both the most powerful and least powerful members of society – either manipulating the fabric of Arras as Spinsters to ensure the survival of life as everyone knows it, or relegated to more menial jobs where they can dutifully serve the men around them with little opportunity to move up in the world – Adelice proves that there’s a middle ground between these opposite ends of the spectrum. She’s intelligent and determined, not content to sit idly by as her purpose in life is dictated to her, instead she’s always ready to reach out and grab the threads that make up her existence and create something new and extraordinary.
The romance is an appealing one despite the presence of a mild love triangle, Adelice proving she’s not the type of girl to fall in love quickly despite having been segregated from boys her own age her entire life. While there are two boys who take a shine to her, there’s no real competition between them, the interactions between her and one young man possessing a genuineness absent from those between her and the second boy and all the more fascinating for it. Their romance isn’t necessarily one that forces the air from our lungs like a punch to the gut, but it is thrumming with potential, and seeing where things go for them from the conclusion of Crewel will be a pleasure.
Overall, Crewel is an extraordinarily rich story, complex characters and a complex world (at times mind-bendingly complex) combining to keep us riveted to each and every page until we unfortunately reach an inevitable end. The more we think on the implications of a world where a person’s life is ended with one rip of a thread from a larger tapestry, the more intrigued we become, pushing ourselves to ask and answer difficult questions about what we might do were we in Adelice’s place. When offered option A or option B, Adelice choices option C every single time, always introducing a little beautiful chaos to the horrifyingly exquisiteness of Arras’s status quo, and I can’t wait to see what beauty she creates from discord next.