Book One of the Crewel World trilogy
By Gennifer Albin
Available now from Farrar Strauss Giroux (Macmillan)
Adelice Lewys lives in a world where girls and boys are segregated until they're sixteen. Sixteen is when they test to find the Spinsters, and only virgins retain the ability. Spinsters weave time and space to keep the world of Arras peaceful, under the control of the Guild. Adelice knows she's a Spinster but has no intention of living her life away from her family and under the Guild's thumb. But she can't hide her talent and so she is taken away to live in a tower and spin as the men want her to.
CREWEL is possibly the best dystopian I've read since the trend started. Arras seems like a wonderful place to live - everyone has a place to live and food to eat and there are never wars. But it comes at a price. Rebellions never happen because traitors are cleaned or ripped by the Spinsters. And the only Spinster with any real power is Loricel, the Creweller, who is loyal. Along comes her successor Adelice, who the Guild knows they can't trust. They're scrambling to find a way to contain her and keep her potential under their firm guidance.
I loved the way CREWEL's world unfolded, piece-by-piece. Some of Arras's secrets were surprising; others less so. But they all added up to a coherent and frightening whole. While CREWEL ends on a cliffhanger, this is the type of cliffhanger that works. Adelice and her allies take the logical step for people who question the Guild and there's certainly another novel in where they're going.
Gennifer Albin doesn't shun the tropes of the dystopian trend in her debut novel. There is a love triangle between Adelice, outspoken valet Jost, and pretty boy guard Erik. Like most love triangles, it feels pretty silly since Adelice spends most of her time thinking about and seeking out Jost and only considers Erik when they happen to cross paths. Fortunately, I think the love triangle might die quickly in the second book of the Crewel World trilogy since Adelice figures out the obvious at the climax. Also fortunately, I didn't hate either guy. Jost gets more character development and seems like a more sympathetic guy, but I never hated Erik.
CREWEL will appeal to dystopian fans, particularly those who feel let
down by most of the genre's worldbuilding, and mythology fans - at least
those who enjoy reading about the fates. There's also a little bit of
science fiction going on to explain how the Spinsters can weave space
I can see why Macmillan choose CREWEL to be part of their Fierce Reads line-up. In a world where you can be killed with a snip of the thread and your entire existence scrubbed from the memories of everyone who ever knew you, there are still those who refuse to sit back and do nothing. That's textbook fierce.