All the hobby and craft stores should be featuring this book on the basis of its plot threads alone (so to speak). Every possible reference to weaving plays a role in this story of Arras, a world in which time and matter can actually be reshaped by a bevy of girls who work as “spinsters” on the fabric of reality.
Being “chosen” to be a spinster is not so fun, because it involves lots of tedious, well – weaving, so there are “perks” for the girls in this post-apocalyptic dystopia. These so-called benefits include the opportunity [sic] to wear makeup and clingy dresses with maximal exposure! And of course you know all the young girls grow up wishing they get selected, even without the influence of princess propaganda from Disney, who is not a part of this otherwise unfortunate universe. Outside of the “coventries” in which the spinsters live and work, non-chosen girls have to look and behave “chastely” until their required marriage at age 18. Also at that age they are assigned a role suitable for a female, like being a secretary to men, or a teacher to children.
Adelice Lewys, 16, has some natural-born talent as a manipulator of threads, but her parents encourage her to hide it so she doesn’t get shut away in a coventry. Alas, she can’t resist the temptation to be deft with weft, and before you know it, she is taken away by a publicity official, “Hunger Games” style, to get coiffed and clad and made up and fed and so on, so she can ply her skills for the Good of Mankind. Or, that is: the Good of Man. However, before all this feting takes place, Adelice has to have that rebelliousness tortured out of her, of course.
So who is pulling all the strings in Arras? Is it the Chief
Crueler Creweler? Is it the Evil Psycho Woman in charge of training new girls? Is it – wait, this is a tough one – is it men? And might they (gasp) be taking advantage of the chastity policy to prey on virgins? No! It couldn’t possibly be that!
Anyway, not to worry. There are not one, but two (of course two!) teen boys who happen to work at the Coventry who quickly become rivals for the attention of Adelice, and want to protect her. But to no avail! In the end, Adelice’s insouciance causes disaster to loom. Is it curtains for Adelice and the boys? Or is there a basis for this yarn to continue?
Sorry folks: it’s a trilogy! Yes, it’s a crewel, crewel world, indeed.
Evaluation: Same old pattern.
Rating: 2.5/5 (higher than it might of been in a bow to the amazing plethora of puns and double entendres from the world of textiles, and I don’t mean Arras!)
Published by Farrar Straus Giroux, 2012