Apr 20th

Review of The Weight of Feathers

Posted in Reviews

I received an advanced review copy of The Weight of Feathers through the Goodreads first reads program. This in no way affects my review of the novel.

Weight of Feathers
  The Weight of Feathers is an absolutely stunning debut novel from   Anna-Marie McLemore. I had qualms about the comparisons to Romeo  and Juliet but her take on the story seemed as though it could be   interesting enough to make it a pretty good read.

  And wow–if I wasn’t sure at first, the quality of the writing was   enough to draw me in from the first page. McLemore marries prose   and poetry in a way that turns words into magic. She truly has a way   with language, including her penchant for gorgeous and delicious   metaphors:

“They all wore tails bright as tissue paper flowers. Butter yellow. Aqua and teal. The orange of cherry brandy roses. The flick of their fins looked like hard candy skipping across the lake.”

“The oldest one hit him in the temple. The force spun through his head. He felt his brain whipping up like one of his aunts’ meringues. Beat to stiff. Just add sugar.”

“And the strange smell in the air that was a little like apple cider, if apple cider was the venom of some night creature, the rain and stars its teeth.”

The stage is set: Almendro is our modern-day Verona. The feuding families are the Palomas and Corbeaus. Each family makes their living as traveling performers–the Corbeaus wear wings and move through tall trees like tightrope walkers, while the women of the Paloma family wear beautiful mermaid tails and put on aquatic shows. The bad blood between the families centers on a series of actions we view very differently, depending on which side is doing the telling. We hear the list of transgressions, real or imagined, of both families: The Corbeaus believe the Palomas killed a member of their family some twenty years ago, while the Palomas believe the same of the Corbeaus. Both families readily accuse each other of just about anything, ranging from inferior performances to murder to black magic.

The characters, especially the protagonists, are delicately put together. Both Cluck and Lace are authentic and appealing, as is the romance between them. It progresses at a natural pace–no insta-love to worry about here. Through the Palomas and the Corbeaus we get insight into two very different cultures.

There are elements of magical realism and themes that make this novel distinct from a simple love story: duty, family, painful truths. Don’t go into this book expecting a light and lovely story–only a few chapters in, we witness Cluck being beaten by members of Lace’s family. A passing reference is made to a female member of the Paloma family with a torn dress narrowly escaping something the reader can easily infer (“Her mother had thanked God she could run faster than any of her cousins.”). The Weight of Feathers deftly confronts the cruelty of family. McLemore is not afraid of the grit and violence integral to the story, although her lyrical writing brings out a strange beauty in these dark moments.

I cannot recommend this novel enough! Even if the story at first doesn’t seem like something you’d be interested in, I highly encourage you to pick it up and give it at try. Anna-Marie McLemore absolutely nailed it.

I received an advanced review copy of The Weight of Feathers through the Goodreads first reads program. This in no way affects my review of the novel.

Weight of Feathers
  The Weight of Feathers is an absolutely stunning debut novel from   Anna-Marie McLemore. I had qualms about the comparisons to Romeo  and Juliet but her take on the story seemed as though it could be   interesting enough to make it a pretty good read.

  And wow–if I wasn’t sure at first, the quality of the writing was   enough to draw me in from the first page. McLemore marries prose   and poetry in a way that turns words into magic. She truly has a way   with language, including her penchant for gorgeous and delicious   metaphors:

“They all wore tails bright as tissue paper flowers. Butter yellow. Aqua and teal. The orange of cherry brandy roses. The flick of their fins looked like hard candy skipping across the lake.”

“The oldest one hit him in the temple. The force spun through his head. He felt his brain whipping up like one of his aunts’ meringues. Beat to stiff. Just add sugar.”

“And the strange smell in the air that was a little like apple cider, if apple cider was the venom of some night creature, the rain and stars its teeth.”

The stage is set: Almendro is our modern-day Verona. The feuding families are the Palomas and Corbeaus. Each family makes their living as traveling performers–the Corbeaus wear wings and move through tall trees like tightrope walkers, while the women of the Paloma family wear beautiful mermaid tails and put on aquatic shows. The bad blood between the families centers on a series of actions we view very differently, depending on which side is doing the telling. We hear the list of transgressions, real or imagined, of both families: The Corbeaus believe the Palomas killed a member of their family some twenty years ago, while the Palomas believe the same of the Corbeaus. Both families readily accuse each other of just about anything, ranging from inferior performances to murder to black magic.

The characters, especially the protagonists, are delicately put together. Both Cluck and Lace are authentic and appealing, as is the romance between them. It progresses at a natural pace–no insta-love to worry about here. Through the Palomas and the Corbeaus we get insight into two very different cultures.

There are elements of magical realism and themes that make this novel distinct from a simple love story: duty, family, painful truths. Don’t go into this book expecting a light and lovely story–only a few chapters in, we witness Cluck being beaten by members of Lace’s family. A passing reference is made to a female member of the Paloma family with a torn dress narrowly escaping something the reader can easily infer (“Her mother had thanked God she could run faster than any of her cousins.”). The Weight of Feathers deftly confronts the cruelty of family. McLemore is not afraid of the grit and violence integral to the story, although her lyrical writing brings out a strange beauty in these dark moments.

I cannot recommend this novel enough! Even if the story at first doesn’t seem like something you’d be interested in, I highly encourage you to pick it up and give it at try. Anna-Marie McLemore absolutely nailed it.

By Oliver Lumpkin

Oli oli oxen-free
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Review of The Weight of Feathers

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