Have you every experienced a colliding of worlds? You realize that one of your childhood friends knows your college roommate, or your spouses’s ex turns out to be your co-worker? I recently experienced this phenomenon and felt like the world was just a bit smaller. In Maurissa Guibord’s debut novel, Warped, readers will also get the feeling that coincidences are a little more planned than they seem…
Book: Warped by Maurissa Guibord
Genre: YA Fantasy
“Tessa doesn’t believe in magic. Or Fate. But there’s something weird about the dusty unicorn tapestry she discovers in a box of old books. She finds the creature woven within it compelling and frightening. After the tapestry comes into her possession, Tessa experiences dreams of the past and scenes from a brutal hunt that she herself participated in. When she accidentally pulls a thread from the tapestry, Tessa releases a terrible centuries old secret. She also meets William de Chaucy, an irresistible 16th-century nobleman. His fate is as inextricably tied to the tapestry as Tessa’s own. Together, they must correct the wrongs of the past. But then the Fates step in, making a tangled mess of Tessa’s life. Now everyone she loves will be destroyed unless Tessa does their bidding and defeats a cruel and crafty ancient enemy.”
What I Enjoyed:
Something that I think sets great stories apart from the average, everyday book is the mixing of familiar elements with one or two fresh concepts- and not necessarily re-inventing the wheel. Tessa and her father encounter typical issues that arise from a father-raising-a-daughter situation. There are possible remarriage worries, the humorous handling of “girl” issues and coping with the loss of a mother and wife.
And in classic YA fashion, there’s high school romance fraught with the heart-wrenching dilemma of “does he like me? does she like me” complete with playful banter. Guibord takes these typical high school problems and forms a unique story by introducing the mysterious unicorn tapestry and interlacing the theme of fate and choice. The unicorn tapestry is mysterious and disturbing. Tessa is both drawn to it and repelled by it- eventually finding that it may answer questions about her past and future.
I also enjoyed the author’s handling of the idea that no one controls their own fate- that life in essence is uncontrollable and at the whim of some higher power. Whether you believe in that sort of thing or not- it’s at the heart of this book but is treated with general lightheartedness. The Norn, or Fates, weave a giant tapestry with the threads of every life. They alone decide the span of a mortal’s life with the single snip of their shears. Can Tessa accept their path for her life, even if it doesn’t include William- or does she take over the reins?
I felt drawn in immediately to this story with its crisp details and easy-to-know characters. The “fantasy” part of the novel was a very small part of the story. It was incorporated in the unicorn tapestry that temporarily transported Tessa back to the 1500’s and in the mystery of pulling the “thread” of someone’s lifeblood or soul out of them with dark magic.
As a side note: The unicorn tapestry in the book put me immediately in mind a real tapestry with a similar look, The Lady and the Unicorn. I had the opportunity to see this awesome piece of medieval art at the Cluny Museum on my honeymoon in Paris. It doesn’t look exactly like how the tapestry in the book is described, but it was fun imaging this one with special time-warp powers.
A Few Dislikes:
I had few complaints with this novel- the book is well-rounded with action, romance and endearing characters. One of the story devices that I found to be a bit annoying was the cutesy dialogue between Tessa and her best friend, Opal. I’m not that removed from high school, being in my mid-20’s, and I kept thinking, “Can this really be how high schoolers talk?” It just seemed slightly off the mark to me- certain phrases in teen speak go in and out of fashion quickly. Using high schooler terminology can quickly make character interaction seem like its trying too hard to be trendy.
As a personal preference, I really connect with strong female characters. Tessa is kinda on the fence- she protects her father from the mythical mess and danger created by the dark youth-hungry witch, Gray Lily. Yet, when Tessa needs to figure out how to save William from Lily’s trap, time runs out while she laments her lack of strength and planning. Although that aspect of the novel didn’t suit my taste, it did work with the book’s concept that choices we make may or may not affect our already-planned destiny.
Warped is a fun read with a truly interesting take on The Fates, destiny, time travel and weird, old rugs on walls. This is Guibord’s first novel, and I look forward to reading her future works!