Wednesday Reviews: UNRAVELED (CREWEL WORLD)

UnraveledIn this third volume of CREWEL WORLD Adelice has arrived back on Arras, determined to play along with Cormac Patton’s plans to make her his wife, so that she can either trick him into revealing some vital information, or kill him by unraveling his time thread.

You may want to stop here if you haven’t read this volume as there are spoilers ahead.

Unfortunately, this volume bears all the hallmarks for rushed and careless writing. For example, when Adelice’s love-interest Erik finally appears after 16 chapters, author Gennifer Albin needs to slow way down to let the emotions unspool in front of the reader. Here is what she actually does:

He [Erik] races forward and unlatches my cuffs pulling me up and into a tight hug. But before I can even enjoy it, he releases me…”Follow me.” It’s little more than a command, and for the moment I’m frozen to the spot. But when he walks out of the room, I go after him despite the shock and confusion warring within me…”Where are we?” I ask Erik, grabbing his arm. He removes my hand quickly but I don’t think I’m imagining a gentle squeeze as he does it. “We got her,” Erik calls out, and everyone stops to stare at me. There are a few cheers. Some eye me with curiosity. Others look unimpressed. But all that matters is the grin that splits Dante’s face, because for a moment I feel like I’ve come home.

For someone that she’s been dying to see for the past 56% of the novel, this reunion feels curiously muted and diffuse. I’m not sure why Ms. Albin didn’t focus her lens on Adelice’s emotions as she met Erik again, after literally resigning herself to a loveless union with Cormac. I don’t understand why this meeting is rushed and hurried, and given the same emotional weight as her reunion with Valery, or Dante or any of the other characters that fly in and out of the scenes in this novel.

Which brings me to another problem. There are simply too many characters. Valery, Folan, Alixandria, Pryana, I just couldn’t keep them straight, mainly because they weren’t delineated well enough of me to be able to tell them apart. I really question whether Ms. Albin needed all of these characters, or whether she couldn’t have just paired it down to one female character who had a complex relationship with the protagonist.

Many key plot points were too vague. For example, I didn’t understand why staying in Arras would kill Loricel and Albert. And I still don’t know why Pryana gave Adelice the crystal box. All of this stuff glided by way too quickly, making it hard to take in.

As the emotional weight of the novel seems to revolve around Adelice’s relationship with Erik, his death should be absolutely devastating. I don’t know why Ms. Albin chose not to show it to us, because that muffled its effect. We need to spend more time with Adelice in mourning him. When, at the end of the volume, Adelice finally comes together with Jost, the reader needs to be reminded about what brought them together when they first met, so that their eventual union makes sense.

It is a great pity that Ms. Albin was not given the support to put the time and energy into ending this novel properly. I really thought the opening volume, CREWEL, was stunning in its imaginative boldness. Every time Adelice touches those threads that hold the world of Arras together the writing is compelling. This volume just seemed like a mad-tag chase around and around, with people meeting sudden unexplained ends, too many characters, and vague plot twists. Two stars.

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