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Deadly Secrets

Tangled Lies

Woven truths


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 to work the looms is everything a girl could...

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Deadly Secrets

Tangled Lies

Woven truths


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 to work the looms is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to manipulate the very fabric of reality. 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 used her hidden talent for a moment. 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 jokes. One hour to pretend everything’s okay. And one hour to escape.

Because tonight, they’ll come for her.


Crewel is the first book in Gennifer Albin's gripping young adult series.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for Crewel:

"The halls of Coventry are dark and twisted places readers will want to visit." —The New York Times Book Review

"Albin has created a unique world that is as fascinating as it is frightening. Absolutely thrilling!" —Josephine Angelini, bestselling author of Starcrossed

"I love how time in Crewel is a physical, shimmering line that can be touched and woven into a pocket of safety in a lethal world. Original, artistic, layered, and nimble, Albin’s novel is a compelling read." —Caragh O’Brien, author of the Birthmarked trilogy

"Crewel is a book about romance, knowing who to trust, and destiny." —

"The next big YA thing-to-come." —The Atlantic Wire

"An incredibly interesting mix." —

"Unusual, brilliant." —MTV’s The

"If you liked The Hunger Games, try Crewel." —

"The next big dystopian blockbuster." —Booklist

"Captivating and intense, the right balance of mystery, romance, and drama." —Publishers Weekly

"Aspects of Crewel bring comparisons to The Hunger Games." —VOYA

Publishers Weekly
Sixteen-year-old Adelice Lewis can ?manipulate reality—weaving it like threads in a tapestry—a remarkable gift that only Spinsters possess. When Adelice's ability is discovered by the all-powerful Guild, she is torn from her family and thrust into a pampered but tightly controlled new life. Adelice and her fellow entry-level Spinsters learn how to keep the land of Arras running smoothly by regulating things like weather and births and also by "ripping" threads: instantly removing those who might pose a threat. As Adelice learns more about the questionable intentions of the Guild's leaders, she relies on two attractive, attentive guards to help decide both her fate and that of her world. Captivating and intense, Albin's intricate debut has the right balance of mystery, romance, and drama to keep readers' attention; Adelice's media- and appearance-focused society is reminiscent of the Capital in The Hunger Games, though this story's violence is more cerebral and remote. The reality-weaving can get murky, but it's easily forgiven as the plot races along to an unexpected conclusion, setting up the next book in this planned series. Ages 12–up. Agent: Mollie Glick, Foundry Literary + Media. (Oct.)
VOYA - Shana Morales
On Arrars, the Spinsters are chosen to work the looms that weave food and weather--even lives--at Manipulation Services. On her sixteenth birthday, Adelice Lewys, who spent a lifetime trying to disguise her ability to weave, has been discovered and taken from her family. Her ability to weave through time is unique. There is a sense of pageantry to the undertaking the girls face in becoming Spinsters, and Adelice finds herself in the midst of a love triangle as she comes into contact with males roughly her own age for the first time. At the compound where she will live the privileged life of a Spinster under the Creweler and the Guild, Adelice finds herself fighting against everything they stand for. The language of this book feels out of touch with its genre of science fiction/romance, the conversations feel unnatural, and the book is exceedingly difficult to get through. Aspects of Crewel bring comparisons to The Hunger Games; it includes forced viewing of Guild events on the Stream, the pageantry of being a Spinster, and a love triangle, but overall Crewel falls flat among the growing availability of young adult dystopian and science fiction titles. When looking for upcoming titles to add to your library collection, skip this title. Ages 12 to 18.
Children's Literature - Mary Thompson
Imagine living in a world where every aspect of your life—from where you live and what you eat to where you work and when you die—is controlled. Then, imagine being chosen to join the Spinsterhood, an elite group of women who have the power to manipulate the weave of time and control the world of Arras. The Spinsterhood brings one power, eternal beauty, and privilege. One night, Adelice is torn from her home and family to train at the Guild as a Spinster. She soon discovers that the Guild is full of secrets and the real power belongs to the men who run it. Adelice has the ability to weave time without a loom, which attracts both positive and negative attention. Her constant questions and need to uncover the truth behind all the secrets put her life at risk. She does gain the help of two handsome guards, but their motives are questionable. Her special skill singles her out as the best replacement for the current Creweler, the most powerful Spinster who extracts the raw materials from the ruined Earth to form reality and keep the world of Arras running smoothly. The Guild cannot function without the Creweler, but the group fears giving such power to a girl who has such a rebellious nature. Adelice's character is bold and naturally curious. Her snarky comments add humor to the serious storyline. The plot clips along at a nice pace, but the concept of weaving becomes a bit muddled as the romantic element takes over. Although the author deals deftly with the theme of gender roles, discrimination against same-sex relationships is barely touched on. This is an intriguing new take on dystopian romance and will do well where this genre is popular. The cliffhanger ending will have readers hungry for the next installment. Reviewer: Mary Thompson
School Library Journal
Gr 7–9—Adelice has the gift: a tremendous talent to see and weave the threads that hold the world of Arras together. And so her parents train her…to be clumsy and awkward, hiding her talent, so she will not be among the chosen, taken away to live forever unmarried, a Spinster. Adelice quickly experiences the title's play on words, for the Guild oversees an often cruel world, where men rule, girls are expected to honor purity standards, and Manipulation Services snips out and reweaves deviant "threads" to maintain order. Renewal patches maintain youth for the rich, and weather, farm crops, and population are all controlled by the Spinsters, who weave and tear out as assigned. Arras is an interesting world, where every part of life can be manipulated upon a loom. Those with the gift to see the threads are required to clean, strengthen, patch, or rip out, directly affecting human life. The book sometimes reads like a Hunger Games wanna-be, with food rationing, a sweet younger sister, transport to a special enclave surrounded by eccentric, hypercontrolling adults, and aestheticians who groom an average girl into a beauty. Spinsters are served by male valets, and Adelice finds herself in a romantic triangle. When she realizes the enormity of her talent, as well as the limits to her life if she remains a Spinster in Arras, she weaves her own creation into the tapestry. Readers will have to wait for the next installment to see how that works out. Consider for purchase in libraries where dystopian romance is popular.—Maggie Knapp, Trinity Valley School, Fort Worth, TX
Kirkus Reviews
Too many slubs in the fabric of this dystopian romance land it in the "irregular" bin. In Arras, men control everything except reality, which is continually woven and re-woven by Spinsters, all women. They labor at the behest of the patriarchal Guild to maintain a post-apocalyptic utopia. Despite being rigorously coached by her parents to fail her aptitude test, 16-year-old Adelice shows her incredible talent at weaving and is wrested violently from her home to labor in the Coventry for the rest of her life. There, she draws the attention of two handsome young men with electric-blue (or cobalt blue, or sometimes just bright blue) eyes, the oily and evil power-hungry ambassador of the Guild, various catty Spinsters and the Creweler, the most powerful Spinster of them all, who extracts the material that forms the reality of Arras from the ruined Earth. Adelice narrates in the genre's now–de rigueur present tense, whipsawing readers through her guilt, grief, fear, revulsion and lust as she learns the power structures of the Coventry and plots to escape. A genuinely cool premise is undermined by inconsistent worldbuilding, fuzzy physics, pedestrian language, characters who never move beyond stereotype and subplots that go nowhere (including a well-meaning but awkwardly grafted-in gay rights thread). These last may reemerge in the sequel that will follow one of the slowest cliffhangers in recent memory. It's clear that Adelice cares deeply about her fate; it's debatable whether readers will. (Dystopian romance. 12-16)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781250034236
  • Publisher: Square Fish
  • Publication date: 10/15/2013
  • Series: Crewel World Series , #1
  • Edition description: Yes, full copies only
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 146,235
  • Age range: 12 - 18 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Gennifer Albin  holds a master’s degree in English literature from the University of Missouri and founded the tremendously popular blog She lives in Lenexa, Kansas, with her husband and two children.


Q&A with Gennifer:

Would you describe the world of Arras?

Arras is a world of cocktails, beautiful women who hide deadly secrets behind their made-up faces and silk stockings, and men who fear women so much that women have been forced into powerless roles. No one is quite who they seem and in the middle of it all, sixteen-year-old Adelice has to navigate a tangled web of lies and conspiracy to unravel the truth about her world and her identity.


What inspired you to create such a world?

I wanted to create a world that wasn't anything you might expect from a story about girls weaving the fabric of life. Weaving, sewing, and other needlecraft have always been considered womanly arts, so I chose to build Arras into a glamorous, but very Mad-Menesque world. There I can explore how girls feel about traditional jobs and responsibilities as well as the temptation of luxury and fame. And let's face it, writing characters in fedoras and pin curls is fun.


Are you like any of the characters in the book?

Eventually a high school teacher of mine is going to expose that Adelice gets her penchant for challenging authority from me. I've always been a big fan of the comeback, but as I get older I'm learning to bite my tongue. I think Jost would be proud.


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Read an Excerpt




I CAN COUNT THE DAYS UNTIL SUMMER draws to a close and autumn seeps into the leaves, painting them ginger and scarlet. Right now, though, the dappled light of mid-afternoon is glorious emerald, and it’s hot on my face. With sun soaking into me, everything is possible. When it is inevitably gone—the seasons programmed to begin and end with smooth precision—life will take its predetermined route. Like a machine. Like me.

It’s quiet outside my sister’s academy. I’m the only one waiting for the girls to be released. When I first began my testing cycle, Amie held her pinkie finger up and made me swear to meet her each day after I got out. It was a hard promise to make, knowing they could call me anytime and sweep me away to the Coventry’s towers. But I make it, even today. A girl has to have something constant, has to know what to expect. The last bit of chocolate in the monthly rations; the tidy ending to a program on the Stream. I want my little sister to be able to count on a sweet life, even if the heat of summer tastes bitter now.

A bell tolls and girls pour out in a surge of plaid, their giggles and shouts breaking the perfect stillness of the scene. Amie, who’s always had more friends than me, bounces out, surrounded by a handful of other girls in the awkward stages of early adolescence. I wave to her and she dashes toward me, catching my hand and pulling me in the direction of our house. Something about her eager greeting every afternoon makes it okay that I don’t have many companions my age.

“Did you do it?” she asks in a breathless voice, skipping ahead of me.

I hesitate for a moment. If anyone will be happy about my mistake, it will be Amie. If I tell her the truth, she’ll squeal and clap. She’ll hug me, and maybe for a moment I can leach her happiness, fill myself up with it, and believe everything is going to turn out fine.

“No,” I lie, and her face falls.

“It’s okay,” she says with a resolved nod. “At least this way you get to stay in Romen. With me.”

I’d rather pretend she’s right, to allow myself to get lost in the twelve-year-old’s gossip, than face what’s coming. I have my whole life to be a Spinster, and only one more night to be her sister. I ooh and aah at the right times, and she believes I’m listening. I imagine that the attention builds her up and completes her, so that when I’m gone she’ll have enough not to waste her life searching for it.

Amie’s primary academy lets out at the same time as the metro’s day shift, so Mom is waiting when we get home. She’s in the kitchen and her head snaps up as we enter, her eyes rushing to meet mine. Taking a deep breath, I shake my head, and her shoulders slump in relief. I let her hug me as long as she wants, her embrace flooding me with love. That’s why I don’t tell them the truth. I want love—not excitement or worry—to be the lingering imprint they leave on me.

Mom reaches up and brushes a strand of hair from my face, but she doesn’t smile. Although she thinks I failed at testing, she also knows my time here is almost up. She’s thinking that I’ll be assigned a role soon, and married shortly thereafter, even if I won’t be taken away. What’s the point of telling her she’ll lose me tonight? It’s not important now, and this moment is what matters.

*   *   *

It’s an ordinary evening at our ordinary table, and apart from the overcooked pot roast—Mom’s specialty and a rare treat—not much is different, not for my family at least. The grandfather clock ticks in our hall, cicadas perform their summer crescendo, a motopact rumbles down the street, and outside the sky fades into dusky twilight beckoning nightfall. It’s a day just like the hundreds that came before it, but tonight I won’t tiptoe from my bed to my parents’ room. The end of testing also means the end of years of training.

I live with my family in a tiny bungalow outside Romen’s metro where my parents have been assigned two children and an appropriately sized house. My mom told me they applied for another child when I was eight—before they discovered my condition—but upon evaluation they were denied. The cost to maintain each individual makes it necessary for the Guild to regulate population. She explained this matter-of-factly one morning as she pinned her hair up into elaborate curls before work. I had asked her for a brother. She waited until I was older to explain that it would have been impossible anyway, due to segregation, but I was still mortified. Pushing my rations around my plate, I realize how much easier it would be if I had been a boy, or if my sister was a boy. I bet my parents wanted boys, too. Then they wouldn’t have to worry about us being taken away.

“Adelice,” my mother says quietly, “you aren’t eating. Testing is over. I would think you’d have an appetite.”

She’s very good at projecting a calm demeanor, but I sometimes wonder if the carefully painted cosmetics layered until her face is silken with rouged cheeks and plump lips are a ruse to help her stay balanced. She makes it look effortless—the cosmetics, her perfectly pinned scarlet hair, and her secretary suit. She appears to be exactly what is expected of a woman: beautiful, groomed, obedient. I never knew there was another side to her until I was eleven, the year she and my father began training my fingers toward uselessness.

“I’m fine.” My response is flat and unbelievable, and I wish I had a perfectly painted face to hide under. Girls are expected to remain pure and natural—in body and appearance—until they’re officially released from testing. Purity standards ensure that girls with weaving abilities don’t lose them by being promiscuous. Some of my classmates look as beautiful in this state as my mother—delicate and fair. I’m too pale. My skin is washed out against my strawberry hair. If only it was the brilliant fiery red of my mother’s or soft gold like my sister, Amie’s, but mine is as dull as dirty pennies.

“Your mother made a special dinner,” my dad points out. His voice is kind, but the implication is clear: I’m wasting food. Staring at the potatoes and too-dry slices of roast beef, I feel guilty. This meal probably ate up two night’s rations, and then there’s the cake.

It’s a large frosted cake from a bakery. My mom has made us small cakes for our birthdays, but nothing like this fancy white cake with sugar flowers and lacy lines of frosting. I know it cost half a week’s rations. Most likely they’ll resort to eating it for breakfast later in the week while they wait for their next disbursement. The frail white scallops edging the cake make my stomach turn. I’m not used to sweets, and I’m not hungry. As it is, I can barely bring myself to eat a few bites of the overcooked meat.

“This is exactly the cake I want for my birthday,” Amie gushes. She’s never had anything like a bakery cake before. When Amie came home from academy today and saw this one, my mom told her she could have one for her next birthday. It’s a pretty big deal for a kid who’s only had hand-me-downs her whole life, but my mom obviously wants to soften her transition into training.

“It will have to be a bit smaller,” Mom reminds her, “and you won’t be having any of this one if you don’t eat your dinner first.”

I can’t help smiling as Amie’s eyes widen and she begins scooping food into her mouth, gulping it down hard. Mom calls her “an eater.” I wish I could eat like her when I’m excited or tense or sad, but nerves kill my appetite, and the fact that this is the last dinner I’ll ever share with my family has my stomach in knots.

“Did you get this for Adelice?” Amie asks between bites, revealing bits of chewed food.

“Close your mouth when you eat,” my dad says, but I see the corner of his own curling up a bit.

“Yes, Adelice deserved something special today.” My mother’s voice is quiet, but as she speaks her face glows and a faint smile plays at her lips. “I thought we should celebrate.”

“Marfa Crossix’s sister came home from testing last week crying and hasn’t left her room yet,” Amie continues after swallowing the meat. “Marfa said it was like someone died. Everyone is so sad. Her parents are already setting up courtship appointments to cheer her up. She has an appointment with pretty much every boy with an active marriage profile in Romen.”

Amie laughs, but the rest of the table falls silent. I’m studying the scallops in the icing, trying to make out the delicate pattern the baker used. Amie doesn’t notice the quiet resistance of my parents to the Guild-approved curriculum and marriage laws, but they haven’t exactly been honest with her either. I’m old enough to understand why they don’t want me to become a Spinster, even if they’ve always been careful with what they say to me.

My father clears his throat and looks at my mother for support. “Some girls really want to go to the Coventry. Marfa’s sister must be disappointed.”

“I would be, too,” Amie chirps, shoveling a forkful of potatoes into her mouth. “They showed us pictures at academy. Spinsters are so beautiful, and they have everything.”

“I suppose,” Mom murmurs, slicing small bites of meat with her knife in slow, precise strokes.

“I can’t wait for testing.” Amie sighs dreamily, and my mother frowns at her. Amie’s in too much of a daze to notice.

“Those girls are very privileged, but if Adelice was called, we would never see her again.” Mom’s response is careful. My parents have started trying to plant doubt in Amie’s head, although her tendency to rattle on to anyone listening makes it hard to talk to her about important stuff. But I don’t mind listening to Amie relate the dramas of every girl in her class or the programs she saw on the Stream. It’s my break before spending every night practicing and rehearsing what to say—and not to say. Curling up with my sister before she falls asleep is when I get my only sense of normal.

But a cake can’t buy more than a night’s happiness. My parents will have a long road ahead of them preparing Amie to fail at her testing. She’s never shown an ounce of weaving ability, but they’ll prepare her. I wonder if she’ll still be eager to go when it’s her turn in four years.

“Marfa says when she’s a Spinster she’ll always get her picture on the front of the Bulletin so her parents won’t worry. That’s what I’d do, too.” Her face is solemn as though she’s really thought this through.

Mom smiles but doesn’t respond. Amie fawns over the glitzy images in our daily bulletin like most pre-testing girls, but she doesn’t truly understand what Spinsters do. I mean, of course she understands that they maintain and embellish the fabric that makes up our world. Every girl learns that early in academy. But someday my parents will explain what Spinsters really do—that no matter how good their intentions, with absolute power comes corruption. And the Guild has absolute power over us and the Spinsters. But they also feed us and protect us. I listen to my parents, but I don’t really understand either. Can a life of providing food and safety for others be that bad? I only know that what’s about to happen to me is going to break their hearts, and once I’m gone, I’ll never have a chance to tell them I’m okay. I guess I’ll have to get my picture on the front of the Bulletin like Marfa Crossix.

The meal continues in silence, and everyone’s eyes gravitate toward our fluffy white centerpiece. The small oak dining table sits four perfectly; we can pass bowls and plates to one another, but tonight my mother served us because there’s room for nothing but the cake. I envy the gleeful sparkle in Amie’s eyes as she stares at it, probably imagining how it will taste or building her grand thirteenth birthday cake in her head. My parents, on the other hand, sit in quiet relief: the closest to celebrating they can muster.

“I’m sorry you failed, Ad,” Amie says, looking up at me. Her eyes dart back to the cake, and I see the longing in them.

“Adelice didn’t fail,” my father tells her.

“But she wasn’t chosen.”

“We didn’t want her to be chosen,” my mother says.

“Did you want to be chosen, Ad?” Amie’s question is so earnest and innocent.

I barely shake my head.

“But why not?” Amie asks.

“Do you want that life?” Mom asks her quietly.

“Why are you so against the Spinsters? I don’t get why we’re celebrating.” Amie’s eyes stay focused on the cake. She’s never been so blunt before.

“We’re not against the Spinsterhood,” Mom responds in a rush.

“Or the Guild,” Dad adds.

“Or the Guild,” Mom echoes with a nod. “But if you pass testing, you can never return here.”

Here—the cramped two-bedroom house in the girls’ neighborhood, where I’ve been safe from the influence of boys my age. My home, with books stashed in hollowed cubbies behind panels in the walls, along with family heirlooms passed down for almost one hundred years from mother to daughter. I’ve always loved the radio in particular, even if it doesn’t work anymore. Mom says that it used to play music and stories and proclaimed the news, like the Stream does now but without the visuals. I asked once why we kept it if it was useless, and she told me that remembering the past is never useless.

“But a Spinster’s life is exciting,” Amie argues. “They have parties and beautiful dresses. Spinsters have control.”

Her last word hangs in the air, and my parents exchange a worried glance. Control? No one granting permission to have children. No predetermined cosmetic routines. No chosen roles. That would be true control.

“If you think they have control—” Mom begins quietly, but my father coughs.

“They have cake,” Amie says with a sigh, slumping against the table.

Dad takes one look at her pitiful face, throws his head back, and laughs. A moment later, my usually stoic mother joins in. Even I feel some giggles bubbling up my throat. Amie does her best to look sad, but her frown twitches until it turns into an impish grin.

“Your cosmetic tokens should arrive next week, Adelice,” my mom says, turning back to me. “I’ll show you how to apply everything.”

“Arras knows, I better be able to apply cosmetics. Isn’t that a girl’s most important job?” The jibe is out of my mouth before I consider what I’m saying. I have a habit of cracking a joke when I’m nervous. But judging from the look of warning on my mom’s face, I’m not being very funny.

“And I’ll jump right on those courtship appointments,” Dad says with a wink, breaking up the tension between Mom and me.

This actually makes me laugh, despite the numbing dread creeping through my limbs. My parents aren’t as eager to get me married and out of the house as most girls’ families are, even if I am required to be married by eighteen. But the joke can’t elevate my mood for long. Right now the thought of getting married, an inevitability that was always too surreal to consider, is out of the question. Spinsters don’t marry.

“And I get to help you choose your cosmetic colors at the co-op, right?” Amie reminds me. She’s been studying catalogs and style sets since she could read. Mom doesn’t take us to the metro co-op to shop often, because it’s not segregated, and when she has it’s been for home supplies, not something exciting like cosmetics.

“I hear they’re increasing the number of teachers in the Corps on assignment day,” Dad continues, serious again.

I’ve always wanted to be a teacher. Secretary, nurse, factory worker—none of the other designated female roles left any room for creativity. Even in a carefully controlled academy curriculum there is more room for expression in teaching than there is in typing notes for businessmen.

“Oh, Ad, you’d be a great teacher,” Amie bursts in. “Whatever you do, don’t get stuck in an office. We just finished our shorthand class, and it was so boring. Besides you have to food-gen coffee all day! Right, Mom?”

Amie looks to her for confirmation, and Mom gives her a quick nod. My sister’s too oblivious to see the pain flash across her face, but I’m not.

“I do make a lot of coffee,” Mom says.

My throat is raw from holding back tears, and if I speak …

“I’m sure you’ll get assigned to be a teacher,” Mom says, eager to change the subject, and then she pats my arm. I must look nervous. I try to imagine what I would be feeling now if assignment day was only a week away for me, but I can’t. I was supposed to go to testing for a month, to be dismissed, and then get assigned. It was the first time I’d been on a loom, one of the large automated machines that show us the fabric of Arras. It was the first time any of us Eligibles had even seen a loom. I only had to act as if I couldn’t see the weave, like the other girls, and answer the proctor’s questions with my practiced lies. If I hadn’t slipped, I would have been dismissed, and then assigned based on my strength assessments at academy. For years, I’d dutifully learned shorthand, home ec, and information storage. But now I’d never get the chance to use any of it.

“We need a new teacher.” Amie interrupts my thoughts. “Mrs. Swander left.”

“Is she expecting a baby?” my mother asks in a knowing way. Her eyes dull a bit as she speaks.

“No.” Amie shakes her head. “Principal Diffet said she had an accident.”

“An accident?” Dad repeats with a frown.

“Yep.” Amie nods, suddenly wide-eyed. “I’ve never known anyone who’s had an accident before.” Her voice is a mix of awe and solemnity. None of us know anyone who has had an accident, because accidents don’t happen in Arras.

“Did Principal Diffet say what happened?” Mom asks so softly that I barely hear her in the quiet dining room.

“No, but he told us not to worry because accidents are very rare and the Guild will be especially careful and investigate and stuff. Is she okay?” she asks, her voice conveying implicit trust. Whatever my father replies, she’ll believe it. I long to fall back in time and feel the comfort of knowing my parents have every answer, knowing I am safe.

My father forces a tight-lipped smile and nods at her. Mom’s eyes meet mine.

“Do you think it’s odd?” She leans into Dad, so Amie won’t hear. It doesn’t matter because Amie has returned to worshipping the cake.

“An accident? Of course.”

“No.” Mom shakes her head. “That the principal told them.”

“It must have been bad,” he whispers.

“Something Manipulation Services couldn’t cover up?”

“We haven’t heard anything at the station.”

“None of the girls said anything today.”

I wish I had some intelligence to share, because I’m feeling excluded. Outside the dining room night has engulfed our quiet street. I can see the shadowed outline of the oak tree in our yard but little else. It won’t be long now, and we’re wasting time worrying about Mrs. Swander’s accident.

“We should eat the cake!” The suggestion bursts from me. My mother, momentarily startled, does a quick inventory of our plates and agrees.

Dad cuts into the cake with an old bread knife, smearing frosting across the blade and blending the vibrant red flowers into dull pink globs. Amie props her body against the table, completely absorbed in the ceremony, while Mom collects the pieces from Dad and passes them around. I’m bringing the first bite to my mouth when Mom stops me.

“Adelice, may your path be blessed. We’re proud of you.” There’s a break in her voice, and I know how much this moment means to her. She’s waited my whole life for this night: my release from testing. I can barely meet her eyes, and she motions for us to eat as she wipes a stray tear from her cheek, leaving a smudge of charcoal from her running mascara.

I take a bite and mash it against the roof of my mouth. The frosting is so sweet that it catches in my throat and makes my nose tingle. I have to wash it down with half a glass of water. Next to me Amie is devouring her piece, but my mother doesn’t tell her to slow down. Now that I’m through testing, it’s Amie’s turn. Tomorrow my parents plan to begin preparing her for her own testing.

“Girls—” my mother begins, but I’ll never know what she was going to say.

There’s a hammering at the door and the sound of many, many boots on our porch. I drop my fork and feel the blood rush out of my face and pool in my feet, weighting me to my chair.

“Adelice,” my father breathes, but he doesn’t ask, because he already knows.

“There isn’t time, Benn!” my mother shrieks, her perfectly applied foundation cracking, but just as quickly she regains control and grabs Amie’s arm.

A low hum fills the air and suddenly a voice booms through the room: “Adelice Lewys has been called to serve the Guild of Twelve. Blessings on the Spinsters and Arras!”

Our neighbors will be outside soon; no one in Romen would willingly miss a retrieval. There’s nowhere to escape. Everyone here knows me. I rise to my feet to open the door for the retrieval squad, but my father pushes me toward the stairs.

“Daddy!” There’s fear in Amie’s voice.

I grope forward and find her hand, squeezing it tight. I stumble down behind her as my father herds us to the basement. I have no idea what his plan is. The only thing down here is a dank, meagerly stocked root cellar. Mom rushes to the basement wall and a moment later she slides a stack of bricks out of place to reveal a narrow tunnel.

Amie and I stand and watch; her wide-eyed horror mirrors the paralyzing fear I feel. The scene before us shifts and blurs. I can’t wrap my head around what they’re doing even as I see it happening. The only constant—the one real thing in this moment—is Amie’s fragile hand clutching my own. I hold on to it for life, hers and mine. It anchors me, and when my mother wrenches her away, I shriek, sure I’ll vanish into nothing.

“Ad,” Amie cries, stretching out to me through Mom’s arms.

It’s her fear that spurs me back to this moment, and I call out to her, “It’s okay, Ames. Go with Mommy.”

My mother’s hands falter for a moment when I say this. I can’t remember when I last called her Mommy. I’ve been too old and too busy for as long as I can remember. Tears that have been building up wash down her face, and she drops her hold on Amie. My sister jumps into my arms, and I inhale the scent of her soap-clean hair, aware of how fast her small heart beats against my belly. Mom circles us and I soak up the strength of her warm arms. But it’s over too quickly, and with a kiss on my forehead, they’re gone.

“Adelice, here!” My father shoves me toward another hole as Amie and Mom disappear into the passage, but before I enter he grabs my wrist and presses cold metal near my vein. A second later heat sears the tender skin. When he releases my arm, I draw the spot up to my mouth, trying to blow off the burning.

“What…” I search his face for a reason for the techprint, and looking back down, I see the pale shape of a flowing hourglass marking the spot. It’s barely visible on my fair skin.

“I should have done it a long time ago, but…” He shakes off the emotion creeping into his voice and sets his jaw. “It will help you remember who you are. You have to leave now, honey.”

I look into the tunnel that stretches into nothing. “Where does it go?” I can’t keep the panic out of my voice. There’s nowhere to hide in Arras, and this is treason.

Above us a stampede of heavy boots breaks across the wooden floor.

“Go,” he pleads.

They’re in the dining room.

“There’s food on the table! They can’t be far.”

“Search the rest of the house and cordon off the street.”

The feet are in the kitchen now.

“Dad…” I throw my arms around him, unsure if he will follow me or go into another tunnel.

“I knew we could never hide how special you are,” he murmurs against my hair. The basement door bangs open.

But before I can say I’m sorry for failing them, or tell him I love him, the boots are on the stairs. I scramble into the hole. He restacks the bricks behind me, shutting out the light. My chest constricts in the darkness. And then he stops. A large crack of light still streams in to the tunnel from the basement. I can’t move.

The bricks crash onto the concrete floor and light floods back into the tunnel. Choking down the scream fighting to loose itself, I struggle forward in the dirt, away from the growing light. I must keep moving forward. I try to forget Dad, and Mom and Amie in the other tunnel, as I crawl through the cold soil.

Keep moving forward.

I repeat it over and over, afraid that if I stop I will be paralyzed again. But somehow I do keep moving forward, farther and farther into darkness, until cold steel clamps down on my leg. I scream as it digs into my skin and begins drawing me back—back to the light and the men in boots, back to the Guild. I tear against the packed dirt of the tunnel, but the claw is stronger and each desperate lunge I make back toward the darkness drives the metal deeper into my calf.

There is no fighting them.


Text copyright © 2012 by Gennifer Albin

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 98 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 20, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Chapter by Chapter's review of Crewel

    I didn’t know what to expect from Crewel by Gennifer Albin. A book about someone who has the ability to weave time? Very intriguing, right? It exceeded everything that I had ever imagined it could be. I was swept away in a world where being a girl is not very promising…

    For as long as she can remember, Adelice has been trained to make mistakes…to make errors…to make herself not be who or what she is meant to be. But after just one small slip, Adelice’s life, and the lives of her family, are changed forever. The guards arrive during a celebratory dinner in honor of Adelice, to retrieve her, and start her life as a Spinster. All the training drilled into her head at such a young age…all for nothing. As a last act of hope, Adelice’s parents attempt to hide Adelice so that she can live her life free…rather than under lock and key amongst the other Spinsters.

    But try as they might, it is too late. The scene describing this attempted escape is one that will remain in my head (and heart) for days to come. Beautifully written, and full of so much emotion, it was at this moment that I knew that Crewel was going to be a story that I would completely become engrossed in.

    Because of her attempted escape, life with the Guild is anything but perfect. Forced to live her first few days in a dungeon with not even a toilet, Adelice knows that her life of freedom is no more, that is until Jost helps her leave her not so comfortable life in the dungeon, and takes her to one of the most prominent areas of the building. Adelice is offered a life of comfort that comes with her skills as a Spinster. Beautiful clothes, more food than she can imagine after a life of food rationing. Even the possibility of friends…until her stubbornness gets the best of her, and the one friend she had has now put her at the top of her hate list.

    With the belief that she can save her sister, Adelice starts to find ways to infiltrate information from the Guild with help from Eric and Jost. And with her exceptional weaving skills, it doesn’t take long before she finds out that she is meant to be more than a Spinster, and that perhaps these skills will be her way of finally finding the freedom she longs for.

    Let me start off by saying that the world building in this book was freaking phenomenal. Every detail was jumping off the pages, every character coming to life in my mind. Everything about this sucked me in and held my attention until the most cliff hangery ending in cliff hanger history! The huge twist about world of Arras was mind blowing and was a definite mind warp. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any better, author Gennifer Albin throws in these different changes in the plot which left me on my toes.

    How cool would it be to have the ability to see the very fibers of time, and have the ability to manipulate them at will? The not so cool part would have to be having the responsibility to “rip” someone when their time has come, ripping meaning wiping them out of existence pretty much. Quite literally, their very fiber of life is in your hands. I don’t know if I would be able to hand the stress related to that!

    With so many characters that you will both love and hate, a story line that will keep you guessing up to the very end, and the originality of it all will leave you breathless and screaming for the next book. A definite must have! I have found a new favorite author in Gennifer Albin, and a new crush who goes by the nam

    16 out of 26 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2012

    Copy of the Hunger Games

    While this book is good, I find that it seems to be very similar to the Hunger Games. There is a girl who is protecting her sister. She is starting a Revolution. She comes from a poorer family. Also, you see her having to choose between two guys: one who is in a situation like hers, and one who she feels inexplicably attracted to. She enters a new, different world, where people are extravagant and stupid. Overall, I do like the novel so far (I am still reading it), but the author could have been more original.

    12 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2013



    9 out of 71 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 23, 2012

    Well written and very interesting. Couldn't put it down! I bough

    Well written and very interesting. Couldn't put it down! I bought the book based on the available first pages here. You definitely won't be disappointed, the writing stays consistently good throughout. I will buy the next book as soon as its released!

    9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2013

    Good, but....

    I was pretty excited for this book. I am a fan of The Hunger Games series and this was really reminiscent of that. Crewel drew me and and I was really vested in the characters. Very creative writing. I loved trying to wrap my mind around the whole idea of weaving time and space and what the spinsters do. But then the author threw in, and then glorified, a lesbian relationship. This upset me a great deal. It was not at all necessary as the author could have easily chosen another avenue to make a point on how the government was controlling the people. It is not the place of the media to try to influence young readers in favor of homosexuality. Unfortunately, it is another example of desensitization of our culture. Little by little we are whittling away at what is right and true and filling the place with lies and wickedness. I am angry that I wasted my money on this. I feel like I was tricked. As a mom, I can say that my daughter will not be reading this book and I will be sure to let the other moms know what lies between the covers of this book.

    7 out of 30 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2012

    I adored this book. It's completely different from anything out

    I adored this book. It's completely different from anything out there - intriguing, unique, and fascinating. The characters are well-drawn and Adelice is sassy, witty, and intelligent. The world Albin creates is truly innovative. The ending is a heart-stopper. I didn't want the book to end, needing to know what happened next. I can't wait for the sequel.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 25, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I admit, I was really curious about this book. It sounded like

    I admit, I was really curious about this book. It sounded like it might be different. In the end I was extremely glad I read it because it was exactly what I hoped for.
    We first meet Adelice after she knows she has failed her Spinster testing. Something that the entire "country" requires every girl who comes of age to go through. Adelice's parents have been working with her from the moment she first displayed the talent to work on hiding it. Or course Adelice is special, and a moment comes that she just can't help herself. When she's trust into her new world she realizes that not everyone has the same abilities that she does. It turns out that what she can do it pretty rare and everybody wants control of her. But what makes the story interesting is that Adelice doesn't fully understand what she's capable of. And she definitely doesn't understand the world of the Spinsters. She doesn't know who to trust and what to believe.

    I found this world completely fascinating. At first the book had a alternate universe feel to it. And why it may fit into that category, its also dystopian in a way. I was surprised and how that distinction came about because I completely was not expecting it. I enjoyed the hierarchy withing the Coventry. It seems the more capable Spinster you are, the more you are rewarded. It's not a talent you can learn per say, but it can be fine tuned. The only real issue I had was the act of spinning itself. It was a little confusing for me at first. I was just having a hard time wrapping my mind how this worked. Eventually it became a little clearer, and I realized that it really wasn't an important part of the story.

    We are also gifted with the ever present love triangle. It was almost a given for the moment they were both introduced that it would happen. But I held out hope because the story focused way more on one than the other. Plus, I just wasn't sure that one of them could be trusted. There's a really interesting twist there too. Could make for an interesting problem later. Of course depending on if Adelice can stick to your choice....any bets?

    The ending pulled me in to the point that I will be reading the next one. Good thing I enjoyed the rest of the book as well!

    4 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 11, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    To say this was AMAZING is putting it too lightly. This book had

    To say this was AMAZING is putting it too lightly. This book had me glued till I realized hold up I'm done already?? I admire Adelice's character very much. She is such a strong girl that does not give up for what she believes in. She gets challanged and yet doesn't let that slow her down. This book is a must read. It kept me on my toes the entire time and had me floored when I thought I knew who was behind the "chaos" only to be surprised.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2013

    Great Book

    Hard to put down. Easy to read and keeps the reader engaged. Cannot wait for Book 2!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2012

    Albin has a gift for sharp, fast prose that pulled me into the s

    Albin has a gift for sharp, fast prose that pulled me into the story right away. The beautiful descriptions of the woven world, along with the lightening-quick dialogue between Cormac and Adelice, were a pure joy. And it's not just the fantastic language that makes this a must-read, but the world. Arras is made of threads and strands of time and matter that can be manipulated on looms. Everything from weather to people can be repaired, relocated or even ripped--and it's this idea that gives Crewel its sinister underpinnings. The romance is compelling and sensual, plus there is a heartbreaking queer love story that once again underscores how nothing genuine can survive in an artificial world.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2014

    To cahos

    Dude wer not gonna do tha im just fu.ckin with her

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 16, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Adelice has been trained by her parents to hide her powers; howe

    Adelice has been trained by her parents to hide her powers; however, she slips up and reveals her incredible talent at weaving during the testing. Now, the Guild is coming for her, and she is forced to remove from her home to become a Spinster to labor in the Coventry for the rest of her life. There, she attracts the attention of the guard Erik, the head valet Josten, the power-hungry ambassador Cormac, and the Creweler, only the most powerful Spinster of them all. As Adelice learns the potential of her own abilities, she realizes that there is more to her world than she thought.

    Adelice is bold, feisty, and very outspoken. She doesn't know how to keep quiet for her own good. Some of this can be attributed to her naivety since she doesn't understand what's going on, but a great deal is due to her reckless nature. I like her conversations with Cormac; they make me laugh. She suffers great loss as well, but she always remains true to herself. I respect how she stays true to her beliefs without shying away from what she needs to do. Her experiences serve to help her grow into a stronger character.

    The side characters are interesting as well. I like how not all the characters are clearly good or evil, and I could understand the character motivations of those I didn't want to like. The Creweler is one of my favorite characters because she's kind and supportive. Erik is gorgeous, charming, and cocky. I like Erik because he makes Adelice laughs, and he is willing to give up everything for her even if she may not love him the way he does for her. Josten is tough, protective, and mysterious. He has a broken history, and he learns to love again because of Adelice. They trust each other. Though there are two guys in Adelice's life, she doesn't waver between the guys; she knows who she likes.

    I like the idea of being able to weave matter into time. It is unique and creative. In Arras, men control everything except reality, which is continually woven and re-woven by Spinsters, who are all women. The story is slow to build. Instead of laying out the world building in the beginning of the book, the author takes her time by slowly giving pieces bit by bit through the book. Not much happens until the end since this book is about setting the foundation for the plot. Still, it isn't boring. We get to learn things along with Adelice as she learns more about her society, and the intrigue and plot twists pull the story along quite nicely.

    Overall, I like Crewel. The ending is thrilling and introduces a new adventure for this series. I am very much excited to see where the author goes with this and hope to see more of Adelice's powers in book two.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 14, 2014

    I think this book should have been better then it was.  The conc

    I think this book should have been better then it was.  The concept was cool, but the execution lacked follow through and cohesion.  The characters were one dimensional and stock, and the situation after all the little crewel tidbits were taken away was a familiar and over used one.  I think the most frustrating point about this book is how the main character is supposedly a very special, very talented girl, but never actually uses any of this special power she is supposed to have.  There were several points in the book where I just want to shake her and scream "YOU HAVE ALL THE POWER, USE IT!"  I kept wanting to get into the world more, but the author never really filled out any details, leaving the workings of the world until about 2/3 of the book, and even then it did not make a whole lot of sense.  I saw the "twist" about a mile away, and again am not quit sure how the world is supposed to function.  Overall the concept and idea's were intriguing, but the execution was on an almost amateur level.  Hopefully the author will continue to learn and grow and figure out a way to write these great ideas in a concise, coherent and entertaining manner.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2013

    Good Read

    Unlike most books I could not predict the ending

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 29, 2013

    Very Unique

    I had a hard time understanding the fabric dividing places and earth. I think I finally got it! Enjoyable and thought provoking. I will buy the sequel.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 27, 2013

    pretty good

    This book is pretty good , it is not quite what I expected but did keep my attention.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2013

    Not Good....


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  • Posted December 22, 2013

    I'll be honest--I didn't know what to expect from this book. Aft

    I'll be honest--I didn't know what to expect from this book. After reading, though, I must say, I am astounded and it left me begging for more. Crewel was, at points, slow and confusing. The love triangle felt unnecessary at points, but overall, this book is the most creative and completely NEW book that I've read in quite some time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2013



    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2013


    This book was ammmaaaziing! Anyone have the second yet?

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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