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.
About the Author
Gennifer Albin holds a master's degree in English literature from the University of Missouri and founded the tremendously popular blog The Connected Mom. She lives in Lenexa, Kansas, with her husband and two children.
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
Reading Group Guide
1. In Arras, boys and girls are segregated from one another in their schools and neighborhoods. Why does the Guild think this is necessary? Why do you think they do it?
2. Adelice often says and does things that seem both brave and foolish. What clues are we given about why she acts so differently from the other Eligible girls?
3. Why does Cormac Patton seem so interested in Adelice when he's a notorious ladies' man? How do you feel about the attention he pays her?
4. Adelice's father told her the hourglass techprint on her wrist would help her remember who she was.
How do Adelice's thoughts regarding the techprint evolve? What do you think her father wanted her to remember?
5. What functions do the looms serve in the Coventry? Do you wish we had technology that allowed us to control weather, food supplies, and natural disasters? Why or why not?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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!
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.
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
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.
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.
Hard to put down. Easy to read and keeps the reader engaged. Cannot wait for Book 2!
Hum...where do I start with this one? How about I start by saying that the name bothers me. I know, I know -it shouldn't, but I'm not too excited about butchering the spelling of a word, even for the sake of book title. Despite that, the description sounds so interesting that I just couldn't say no.In Crewel, Adelice lives in a world completely controlled by a group known as The Guild. The Guild determines everything about their lives, from who they marry to how many children they have, to what people eat. In the midst of this controlling, semi-patriarchal society is a group known as the Spinsters, who possess the strange ability to weave time, and that will allow the Guild the ultimate form of control over its people. It's the dream of every young girl to become a Spinster since it is the only way to have any semblance of freedom and privilege. But Adelice isn't like every other girl, even though she has the gift -even stronger than most other girls.Adelice is thrown into a conflicted world of control where she struggles to find freedom and happiness. And even though the Spinsters offer some freedom, it's not enough. Adelice finds herself fighting for what she wants in the midst of power and control. The overall concepts of Crewel seem interesting, but once I dug deeper into the world and the characters, that concept quickly started to rust.Unfortunately, I always felt like the world was vaguely drawn. I never felt like I was completely engaged in it, and I kept asking questions that never seemed to be answered: Why was the Guild in control? Who allowed them to have that control? If Spinsters could essentially take over, then why don't they? Though Adelice does have legitimate reasons to not become a Spinster, why can't she try to use her new status to get what she wants? It just seemed like she wasn't that smart when it came to thinking through all of the new opportunities that could come with such a gift.Speaking of Adelice, I found it really difficult to connect with her. She seemed like such a flat and uninteresting character who was willing to let the Guild and the Spinsters do whatever to her -she didn't really fight back, almost like she didn't know how. I was especially disappointed as the story went on and the semi-interesting themes of freedom and control mostly gave way to yet another dystopian-esque teen romance. That was when the world took a firm backseat role to the romance, which was boring and predictable.This could have been a good book, but it needs more work and more development -it's just not quite there yet.
DNF’d @ 78% I usually wouldn’t do a proper review for a DNF – largely because I usually DNF at the beginning – but I was far enough in this one that I feel it deserves some words. I have LOTS of word for Crewel, and they are mostly unfriendly. *deep breath* Crewel is about a girl in a dystopian world that is strictly ruled like the 1950s and women are basically treated like brainless dolls, unless you’re a Spinster, which is basically a goddess because you have the ability to manipulate the world. Naturally, Adelice is a Spinster. Or, more specifically, she is a Creweler, which is the most powerful upcoming Spinster. As expected in Cookie Cutter YA Dystopia Fantasy, Adelice is not into doing that. She spends a lot of time flirting with two boys (*gasp!* love triangle) and being an emotionless robot. Aaaughhh. So this ended up on my TBR because of the concept of a woven world. I’ve come across this concept in Egyptian mythology, where Neith weaves the world in her loom. There are lot of world myths involving weaving and fate and creation, featuring great figures like Anansi, and Moirai of Greek myth. Cool stuff, guys. Great basis for a story. Only, this wasn’t about that at all, not really. The glimpses we get of that are awesome, and the philosophy behind that aspect of world-building is wicked cool BUT unfortunately, we are saddled with Adelice and she ruins everything. Some small things that made me hate Adelice: When she learns that one of her crushes watched his wife and baby die, she responds with jealousy that he had a wife. She quickly forgets her own personal tragedy, then remembers when it’s convenient to the story, then forgets again. She’s a selfish brat who marches in like she’s important and behaves horribly and is hit with no real consequences. She cuts her hands to shreds for 12 hours and almost doesn’t let medical help in (which she calls only after crying) because it’s her crush. These are a few examples, but honestly – it’s Adelice as a whole. She’s flat, shallow, selfish, and self-important. I can’t be bothered to feel bad for her because she has the attention span of a butterfly and the emotional range of a teaspoon. These things weren’t what made me DNF it, though. There were other decent characters, and the writing wasn’t the worst I’ve ever read. What made me DNF it was the way Gennifer Albin chose to handle homosexuality in her world. When a lesbian couple arises, the two characters who discover it are abashed that something like this could actually happen. One of the couple gets “remapped” so she will not be that way. In all the instances that this is explained, it really comes down to “I can’t explain why this is wrong, only that this is wrong, and sometimes they’ll turn a blind eye but really a relationship should be a man and a woman.” Paraphrased, but strongly implied. I tried to listen past it. I waited for some sort of explanation how things were going to be okay. But it came down to “they are broken and we fixed them” which infuriated me. Nope. DNF. We’re done. Nobody in that situation needed to be “fixed”.
This book surprised me. There are secrets around every corner in the city of Arras. Adelice is an amazing main character and I can relate to her stubborness (is that a word?) I REALLY ENJOYED THIS BOOK AND I CAN'T WAIT TO FINISH THE SERIES!!!!!!!!!!!!
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. *This book was acquired for review from the publisher at BEA 2012*
INITIAL THOUGHTS So i'm Looking forward to a dystopian. . . . I can't stay away from my favourite genre for long! Not sure what to expect. . . . I have had this one for a while and then sort of forgotten I had it, and rediscovered it quite recently after reading The Department Of Alterations novella, and being intrigued by the world that novella was set in. So I'm really looking forward to learning more about the dystopian world and the rules and regulations as well as meeting the characters within that world too. Will it be like The Registry Series by Shannon Stoker or The Chemical Garden by Lauren De Stefano? MY REVIEW I have an e-copy of this one from ages ago, that I thought I'd lost when I had a problem with my kindle, but recently managed to retrieve it somehow. I also managed to purchase an e-copy of this one from Amazon UK too. As I've done a separate feature about the various covers for this book, I will go straight into my review of the book. The main character in this book is Adelice, at the beginning of the book she is living with her family, which consists of her mother, father and younger sister Amie. They all live together in the medium sized home they were allocated on the girls side of town in Romen, an area in Arras. The families with male children live on the boys side of town. So males and females are segregated until the age of 16 yrs old when the girls are tested to see if they have the special gift which enables her to become a Spinster and serve Arras. Adelice's parents have tried to teach her to fail the tests but it's hard for Adelice to concentrate on the da of the test and she accidentally does something which tips the testers off to the fact that she would make not just a good Spinster but a remarkable one. Adelice is trying to find a way to tell her parents about her dreadful mistake when her mum and sister Amie present her with the most beautiful birthday cake she has ever seen. It is an extravagant treat that must have cost a large amount of the rations to buy. Adelice gazes around the table at her family knowing that she has made the biggest mistake of her life and trying to figure out a way to tell her parents, when there's a loud knocking on their front door. I don't want to spoil what happens next as you need to read it for yourselves, so I'll say Adelice is removed from her family and transported to the Coventry she will be based at for her further testing/initial training. The story tell's us, the reader, all about Arras and how it was formed, and how the Spinster's and the Creweler, create, manipulate, alter, and rip through, strands of the weave. It turns out that Adelice has a very rare and special gift . . .that would be a spoiler for me to say more. This extra special gift, means that Adelice is treat differently to someof the other spinsters but though you would think a special gift would mean being cossetted, that is not the case with one of the head trainers at the Coventry called Maela. Maela does single out Adelice but certainly not in a good way, she creates an incident that immediately puts her at odd's with one of the other Spinster's named Pryana, the very one Adelice had made the initial tentative steps towards a potential best friend relationship with. The incident Maela orchestrates haunts Adelice throughout the book. Though Adelice is snatched from her family she cannot forget them and asks various people she comes into contact with about them, but no one seems to dare or want to tell her the whole truth, though it is agreed her father dies the night she was snatched, and her sister, Amie was "re-woven". Adelice receives continual conflicting hints about what happened to her mother. Adelice may not have friends within the other Spinster's but she quickly becomes fond of her mentor, Enora and her personal aesthetician Valery. Enora and Valery are the two women that Adelice see's on a day to day basis telling what she will be doing next and what is expected of her. Adelice also ends up being friendly with two males at the Coventry which is quite a big thing for her as she has never been around males other than her own father. Josten, who seem's to be the "jack of all trades" around the Coventry, soon becomes friends with Adelice, and tries to encourage her to be a more meek character and to fly under the radar, rather than going with her gut reaction, which is to resist what is asked of her. Part of her reasoning being her parents had been against her becoming a Spinster since she was old enough to remember. The other male is Erik, he is Maela's assistant, so having his attention certainly irritates Maela and puts a large target on Adelice. So I could honestly go on and on and on about this book. I said the following words about a book recently but they also fit how I feel about this book too, I truly enjoyed every word! The world of Arras is perfectly presented, it's history of how it all came to be, then it's hierachy, where males may be considered the superior species yet it is a female Creweler and her Spinster's that weave the very fabric of the world they all live in. The chain of command within the different Coventries are well detailed, as well as what is expected from everyone in Arras. Now to the characters . . .I know I've wrote loads but I absolutely have to tell you what I thought about some of the characters. I loved Adelice, the main character of the book, she is brave, yet is learning how to hide her true feelings to avoid the people she's loves being hurt to make her "toe the line". I also love the older character and the Creweler at the Coventry where Adelice is based, her name is Loricel. Loricel is not as interested in staying youthful forever, in fact at times she seem's to be tired of her life. Loricel is really the most powerful woman in Arras as only she can weave without a loom. Loricel can pull strands from the scenery and air around her and create other weaves from it. (It's described much better than this in the book). I admit to being uncertain of the trustworthiness of Enora, and perhaps a little suspicious of Valery, could Adelice confide in these women? Or would they report everything she say's to Maela, and in turn those that run their very society? As for characters I was totally unsure/kind of disliked Cormac instantly, his cold harshness towards Adelice's family but then at the same time he answered some of her burning questions that he didn't really have to was that a kindness or just a way of gauging her feelings about those people close to her that he could use as leverage to gain her co-operation. I imagine Cormac as looking and being like the character from the Hunger Games, Haymitch Abernathy. A guy that looks like Woody Harrelson is what I visualise when I think about his character. My feelings about Erik were on a literal rollercoaster, sometimes I liked him I thought he was trying to care for Adelice and other times it felt like he was almost "pushing her under the bus". To finish on a good point, I'll add I loved the character of Josten, his back story had me in tears and then later on when Adelice makes her discovery . . wow. . . I mean what is happening? . . .Then that mahoosive shocker that takes place at the very end of the book. . . What a cliff-hanger!!! and the next books are not out in separate ebooks yet! Ooo I also want to add that I love the name of the series as I'd say it works extremely well for the book, representing the occupation of Creweler, and if spelt differently it embodies the feeling of the world of Arras around Adelice, that it is a "cruel" world. So did I enjoy the book? Can't you tell how I have babbled and babbled on about it? lol. I loved this book, was super addicted to reading it, I feel like I could write about it at least three times more than I have above in this review. I loved it. Would I recommend the book? Yes. I've already being nagging . .I mean heavily recommending my daughter read the book so that I have some one to talk about it to! Would I want to read another book in the series? I already have, I read "The Department Of Alterations" novella, and I really, really want to read all the other books and novella's in this series so much. Would I want to read other books by this author? I would always check out any book written by this author as I enjoyed her writing and the creating of the world of Arras very much.
The book is just alright for me, it makes me wanted to know what happened next through out the book, but not necessarily the second series. I was expecting more stories about the power/talent Adelice possesses. Overall, it's an interesting concept of how the world was created from materials/fibers and some has power/talent to see and manipulate it.
This book was amazing. Adelice is just so well written as a character and the book has a good flow and the story line is incredible -Mic's-
Adelice Lewys has the gift to weave, but is desperately hiding her talent thanks to the warnings from her parents. Trying to stay hidden from the Guild is difficult, but it becomes impossible when Adelice lets slip her gift during a testing ceremony. Ripped from her family and thrown into training, Adelice knows she has to find a way to escape, but this means she must learn to trust someone on the inside. I am not normally a fan of sci-fi books, but this is a fun, fast read. I was immediately caught up in Adelice’s struggles. There were very few grammatical errors, while the descriptive details overwhelmed the senses and made it feel as though the world of Arras was displayed before my eyes. I am looking forward to continuing Adelice’s adventures in the next two books. Note: This review was originally posted on the Ariesgrl Book Reviews website.
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. Review by Alice
Dude wer not gonna do tha im just fu.ckin with her
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.
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.
Unlike most books I could not predict the ending