January 2011, Young Adult
Delacourte, $16.99, 352 pages, Amazon ASIN 0385738919
I've never really liked the legend of the Norn. Three ladies who spin, weave and cut our fate at their whim; it's a disturbing idea. The villain of this novel finds it so as well. Maybe that is why I felt some empathy for the circumstances that got her started on her twisted path.
Both Tessa and her father are shocked when she takes over his paddle at Cheever's Fine Auction House and goes to town on bidding for a set of old books and a tapestry. But Tessa heard something, felt something when that portrait of a unicorn in the woods had come up for purchase and just knew she had to have it. Now it is home with her, securely on her bedroom wall, warm to the touch and inspiring the most disturbing dreams - till she pulls the loose thread and receives the shock of a life time.
William de Chaucy has been trapped in that tapestry for centuries. When Tessa frees him into a strange world of indoor plumbing, fireless lights and horseless carriages, he is entranced and delighted. He wants nothing more than to make a home for himself in this new time and place but can he trust the girl who has brought him here? The last two times he has seen her, the witch Grey Lilly has captured him. Coincidence? Or is the maiden really the devil's apprentice, hidden in a package of lovely curling hair and beguiling eyes?
Tessa and Will must right the wrongs that first brought them together hundreds of years ago. For the Fates are determined to see someone pay for the crime of stealing seven threads of life, even if the person they punish was not the guilty party. And Grey Lilly is determined to have her unicorn back in the tapestry - because without it she ages and dies. And time is rapidly running out.
This novel certainly gets points for originality. I haven't seen the tapestry artifice used in many books (though I have seen it done before) and I liked the way the author combined it with the weave of life done by the Fates. That was a unique and interesting approach.
Grey Lilly was a fascinating character. Too often the villain is just eeeevvvviiiillll but Grey Lilly had cause for what drove her down the path of darkness. Ultimately her decisions showed her to be a selfish, heartless person, but there is a definite sense that she hadn't always been that way and I appreciated it. It is Grey Lilly and the original approach to the tapestry story line that raises the book to above average.>
The rest of the reading experience is pretty every day stuff. Tessa and William are typical, bland teenagers and their love story (what there was of it) didn't do much for me. Also not too terribly exciting was their defeat of the witch. It seemed to depend more on ability than cleverness, which made it less than thrilling. One thing I think hurt the novel was that the author writes in thoughts rather than scenes. We get a lot of dialogue about something that happened or Tess thinks a lot about an event but we don't actually get to see it take place. That passive voice meant the action level was low.
Still, the novel is well written and shows great potential for this debut author. If you are a fan of the YA genre and are looking for something a bit different this may be just the book you have been looking for.
-- Maggie Boyd
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