By Gennifer Albin
Publication date: Oct. 16, 2012
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR), 368 pages
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.
Gifted 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.
Now 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.
— Goodreads.com description
The real standout for me in Crewel was Gennifer Albin’s writing. Her story follows Adelice, a “Spinster” gifted with the ability to control the world around her by weaving time and matter to her will. The elements that create the world around us are beautifully described as a tapestry, vibrant and strong in parts and weak and frayed in others. Albin does a stand-out job here, making Adelice’s loom come to life in our imaginations. It’s just gorgeous.
I also adored the themes of gender equality in Crewel. I mean, the girls are called “Spinsters” and they have to wear extreme cosmetics and take a purity pledge. Hello, double-standards! Feminist Anna loved these elements, and I’d like to see more authors taking these things on.
But, I definitely had problems with the world-building in this book…just a little hard for me to follow along in terms of the geography of Arras, the power structure, etc. Also, I didn’t love the love triangle aspect. Sure, the boys were cute and great, but the choice Adelice would make was clear to me from the get-go, so it dragged.
All in all, this was a well-written read with an intriguing premise. Flawed? Sure, but I’m still very curious to see what happens in book two!