The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore
Published by Thomas Dunne on September 15, 2015
Genres: [Young Adult] Fantasy, Magical Realism
Format: Hardcover, ARC
Rerated: 3.5 Stars
4 Stars, Completed September 29, 2015
– read the bold text to avoid minor SPOILERS –
This is the third book I’ve read in the past month that has utilized dual perspectives, incorporated multilingual dialogue, and featured the Romeo and Juliet trope. Even though I thoroughly enjoyed the others, I have to say, this is my favorite one by far.
Through generations of competition, the Palomas and Corbeaus have dealt with a strong feud and rivalry. Both families are traveling performers in competing shows. The Palomas swim in mermaid exhibitions and the Corbeaus, former tight-rope walkers, perform in tall trees. Lace Paloma has grown up knowing that the Corbeaus are pure magia negra, black magic, and that just by touching them it could be death. She’s learned to stay away, until a chemical rain pours down on the town of Almendro, and the one that saves her life happens to be Cluck, a Corbeau. His touch immerses her into a life of falling feathers. Now that their lives are closely intertwined, there’s no turning back.
Volez de ses propres ailes.
Fly with your own wings.
Probably the most distinct aspect I noticed was the mix of Spanish and French throughout the story. I was really fond of the aphorisms alternating between the two languages that introduced the switch between Cluck and Lace’s perspectives. In adding these simple but evocative quotes in the beginning of each chapter, it made the transition more smooth and clear than other dual perspectives I’ve read. In fact, I’m usually not a fan of these type of point of views, but this was impeccably done and worked appropriately with the plot. And the writing itself was rather beautiful, with lots of vivid imagery and some naturalism inspiration.
“Makeup doesn’t cure ugly,” Lace said.
“There are no ugly women,” the woman said. “Only lazy ones.”
This probably wasn’t something important to other readers, but I really liked that each family evoked similar stereotypes to their ethnicities-I mean that in the best way possible. When I think of the French, I immediately think of chic, elegant women, after all Paris is one of the most famous fashion capitals in the world. In The Weight of Feathers, Nicole Corbeau and the other Corbeau women really resembled my prototype of sophisticated French women, which was something I found fascinating. And growing up, a few of my friends were Latino so I was invited to family gatherings, birthday parties, and fiestas. I always believed that the sense of family and loyalty were really strong in Spanish culture. The mermaid shows and family ties between the Palomas really reflected this closeness. Obviously, there are other ethnicities that have strong family loyalty and fashionable women. I found it fun that these two families fit my own prototypes of these two ethnicity groups.
Los enemigos del hombre son los de su propia casa.
A man’s enemies are those of his own house.
Even though both grew up with different upbringings and acquired a innate hatred to the other’s family, both Cluck and Lace clicked and understood each other instantly. Both are complete outcasts in their families. Cluck has a deformed hand and his feathers are tinged with streaks of red, an anomaly compared to his other cousins with jet black feathers. He was le batard of the two brothers. So I really loved his easy acceptance for imperfection. After the acid rain, Lace’s family kicked her out because of her scars and feather burn, but Cluck recognized Lace’s natural beauty. Also, I despise an overly cheesy guy or when a male character beats around the bush when it comes to displaying love. Cluck belongs in neither category. He’s flawed, but sensible and forward.
De malas costumbres nacen buenas leyes.
From bad customs are born good laws.
And, why yes, there is some satisfying redemption for the characters by the end. With this there was some great build up of character devleopment in both Cluck and Lace. I have to admit, that I was more invested with Cluck’s journey because he seemed more mysterious-with all of his blatant lies. Also, with his side of the story, we also see more serious issues like neglect and abuse. Lace wasn’t a dull character, but Cluck was definitely the more interesting character of the two.
El amor es ciego.
Love is blind.
I can’t promise that there won’t be death(s), but unlike, Romeo and Juliet, there is a happily ever after ending. Lace gives Cluck wings figuratively and physically. Something about that scene reminded me of redemption and power. Like the ability to “fly” and express or stand up for oneself. I really liked that hidden symbolism.
The only reason in which I feel like I can’t give this a complete 5 stars is that The Weight of Feathers doesn’t strongly reflect a novel with magical realism, which was something I was anticipating. Don’t get me wrong, the foundation of families’ feud and world building was there, but aside from the growth of feathers on the Corbeaus and the Palomas’ escalas there weren’t much mythology behind why the Corbeaus were “crows” and the Palomas “sirens.” Perhaps, adding another chapter or two with this information would have dragged the story, but for me I would have liked it. But that could be the fantasy/paranormal reader in me demanding this.
The Weight of Feathers develops a dangerous, forbidden love and explores intergenerational family complexities. The writing was full of strong imagery and worked perfectly to emulate the feeling of a night circus high (that thrilling sensation that you get to experience magical stuff happens). I think this one leaned more on the Romeo and Juliet side than The Night Circus, but it was such a thrilling ride nonetheless.
Special thanks to St. Martin’s Griffin for allowing me to participate in this blog tour and sending me this review copy of The Weight of Feathers. In no way did this affect my reading experience or honest review.
Also St. Martin’s Griffin was kind enough to give me an opportunity to host a giveaway (thank you, again, St. Martin’s Griffin team!), so if you guys are interested please consider entering the giveaway.
THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS GIVEAWAY!
- U.S./Canada residents only (sorry!)
- Ends in roughly two weeks on Tuesday, October 13, 2015
- 1 winner gets to receive a finished copy of THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS
- I will be emailing and giving the winner 48 hours to respond to my email before choosing another winner
- Also St. Martin’s Griffin will be the party sending out the book, Xingsings will not be responsible for lost or damaged goods
- And, please no cheating. I will be checking the winner’s entries!
- Good luck!
Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/4e94303f2/