Famine, disease and old age have been completely eliminated in Arras. Weather is carefully balanced, resources are rationed and neighborhoods are segregated by gender to enforce purity standards. When teens reach their 16th year, courtship appointments are made and lifetime work assignments are distributed. Most girls are assigned roles as teachers, nurses or secretaries—all except the few who show talent in weaving space and time. These few are sent to the four Coventries to become the Spinsters who, together with the ruling Guild, create and maintain the fabric that holds Arras together.

When Adelice is taken to the Western Coventry for Spinster training, she knows that life as a Spinster won’t always be about the fancy parties and glamorous gowns that she’s been told Spinsters enjoy. She also knows that Spinsters cannot marry or have any loyalties outside their work, including maintaining ongoing ties with their families. But she doesn’t know how rare her own talent is—Adelice can see and manipulate the fabric around her even without a loom—or what dark secrets underlie the seemingly perfect lives of her people.

Especially since the success of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy, stories about teen characters who first live in and then rebel against totalitarian regimes have become an increasingly popular theme in contemporary young adult literature. But readers expecting a standard dystopian narrative are in for a pleasant surprise: Crewel, the first part of a planned trilogy, both reflects the prevailing norms of its genre and seeks to broaden them, creating a world that invites readers to think critically about love, friendship and the nature of reality itself.

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