My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Source: Review copy from Publisher via Netgalley
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Enter a tangled world of secrets and intrigue where a girl is in charge of other’s destinies, but not her own.
Sixteen-year-old Adelice Lewys has always been special. When her parents discover her gift—the ability to weave the very fabric of reality—they train her to hide it. For good reason, they don’t want her to become a Spinster — one of the elite, beautiful, and deadly women who determine what people eat, where they live, how many children they have, and even when they die.
Thrust into the opulent Western Coventry, Adelice will be tried, tested and tempted as she navigates the deadly politics at play behind its walls. Now caught in a web of lies and forbidden romance, she must unravel the sinister truth behind her own unspeakable power. Her world is hanging by a thread, and Adelice, alone, can decide to save it — or destroy it.
There has been a deluge of dystopian YA fiction lately, and although I still LOVE it and want to read more- sometimes these worlds and stories all start to blend together in my head. However, Crewel is a completely unique take on a fantasy futuristic world, and so different from anything else, that it really stands out.
It is based on the idea that the world around the characters is woven and created by a group of women called Spinsters, who have developed the unique power of "weaving" the world around them. Everything can be controlled on the looms from the amount of rainfall, to the growth of trees and plants, and if an area shows signs of rebellion- it can be destroyed with one rip.
For the first quarter of the book or so I was a bit confused and baffled as I struggled to get my head around the concepts in the book. The world building was sometimes a little bit complex and you need to be paying attention to understand it, but that complexity and depth of description also meant that it felt very impressive and very convincing. The whole atmosphere of the book begins to feel more dangerous and menacing as we begin to discover more about the Spinsters and their power along with main character Adelice.
Adelice has been raised in a quiet and inconspicuous sector of Arras, living a poor but happy life with her parents and her sister. Her mother had been aware of Adelice's power from an early age, and had been trying to teach Adelice to conceal it, so that when it came time to be tested- she wouldn't have to join the Spinsters. But Adelice's power is exceptionally strong, and she finds that she can weave time and matter easily- even without the loom.
I really enjoyed discovering this exceptional world along with Adelice, as she gets deeper and deeper into the heart of the power of this corrupt and dangerous world, and learns more about the truth of the Spinsters. She is a very determined and head-strong girl, and not afraid to stand up to her superior Maela when she sees something she thinks is wrong, although she is sometimes a little naive because of her sheltered upbringing.
Some of the characters seem pretty evil- the kind of bad guys who believe that they are doing what is right and good, but there is a brilliant cast of a range of different characters. One of my favourite characters is gruff servant Jost and his story, and the friendship and attraction that gradually develops between him and Adelice.
This story is imaginative and thrilling. There are subplots of love and betrayal, and I liked that you could never guess which direction the story was going to take next. Beautifully written, multi-layered and completely surprising- a must read for fans of sci-fi or dystopia.
I way prefer this cover- it's so pretty and eye-catching, and I think it better matches the story and the ideas behind weaving and the threads of the world.