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Book Review: Crewel by Gennifer Albin

Crewel was exactly like it sounds – harsh and gritty and yet ultimately fascinating. I thought the world-building was interesting, and now as usual, I’m dying for more.

Book Review: Crewel by Gennifer Albin

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crewel by gennifer albin

Title & Author: Crewel (Crewel World) by Gennifer Albin

Genre: YA – Fantasy

Release Date: October 16, 2012

Series: #1 in the Crewel World series

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

How I Got the Book: ARC via Publisher


“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 as a Spinster is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to embroider the very fabric of life. 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 wove a moment at testing, and they’re coming for her—tonight.

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 stupid jokes. One hour to pretend everything’s okay. And one hour to escape.

Because once you become a Spinster, there’s no turning back.”

It’s a Crewel, Crewel World

The world of Crewel totally got me. It had a Mad Men vibe, with 20s womanhood back in play. Women can either be teachers or secretaries in the land of Arras, unless of course you have the talents and skills to be a Spinster.

This is where the book initially lost me. I thought “Spinster” was a negative term (IRL it is), so I was confused at first what being a Spinster was a good thing in the book. It’s just the name of the elite group of young girls who can manipulate and maintain Arras.

Spinsters have the special skills necessary to keep everyone happy – meaning that they can influence crops, the weather and the very citizens they’re working to protect.

Adelice (love that name!) has the skills…but her whole life her parents have trained her to fail the Spinster test. There are so many things they haven’t told her about her own abilities, but she trusts them implicitly.

When she accidentally passes the test (which means failure to her), Adelice is shipped off to Spinster HQ and her life and future are at the mercy of the Guild – the men who control the future of Arras.

Adelice’s story is dark. From the moment she joins the other Spinsters who passed the test, she’s at odds with powerful people. It’s mainly because she can’t keep her mouth shut and gets herself into endless trouble.

I both enjoyed that part of her personality and was annoyed by it. It makes her stand out against the docile, obedient girls – Adelice has real fire to her.

Save the Drama for Your Mama

Crewel was one of the most interesting worlds I’ve read about in a long time. Although I can’t share as much as I’d like (to avoid spoilers), I thought Albin gave herself tons of room to play with Arras and to change things up on readers in a good way.

A small annoyance for me was the love triangle. It was too much. I can’t stress enough how much goes on in this book – there’s political maneuverings, cruel punishments and lots of thinking fast and on your feet.

There really wasn’t room for MORE drama. And that’s coming from someone who loves all the Real Housewives shows.


Crewel is complex and interesting. It kept me guessing – especially about Arras and its citizens. The world-building was unique and fun, and despite a pesky love triangle, I was really impressed with Crewel and Albin.

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.