Book Review: The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore

23848113The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore

Published by St. Martin’s Griffin on September 15, 2015

Genres: Young Adult, Romance, Magic, Fantasy

Pages: 320 Format: Hardcover Source: Library

5/5 Stars

For twenty years, the Palomas and the Corbeaus have been rivals and enemies, locked in an escalating feud for over a generation. Both families make their living as traveling performers in competing shows—the Palomas swimming in mermaid exhibitions, the Corbeaus, former tightrope walkers, performing in the tallest trees they can find.

Lace Paloma may be new to her family’s show, but she knows as well as anyone that the Corbeaus are pure magia negra, black magic from the devil himself. Simply touching one could mean death, and she’s been taught from birth to keep away. But when disaster strikes the small town where both families are performing, it’s a Corbeau boy, Cluck, who saves Lace’s life. And his touch immerses her in the world of the Corbeaus, where falling for him could turn his own family against him, and one misstep can be just as dangerous on the ground as it is in the trees.

Beautifully written, and richly imaginative, The Weight of Feathers is an utterly captivating young adult novel by a talented new voice.

The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore mixes fantastical elements, a contemporary setting, and a Romeo and Juliet type love story into a stunning debut novel that left me a complete emotional wreck.  I discovered this wondrous book from an excerpt post by Nori over at ReadWriteLove28 and I am eternally grateful. I’m going to highlight two of my favorite parts here: the families and of course the fantasy.

Palomas & Corbeaus

At the center of this story are the two families at odds with one another: the Palomas and the Corbeaus. They believe the very worst in each other yet travel the same paths to make their living. A long standing history between the two of tragedy and sorrow is built upon with harsh words and fears of dark magic. Lace Paloma and Cluck Corbeau find themselves right in the middle of it all.

While very different, the Palomas and Corbeaus are too intertwined to leave each other in peace. They thrive off this bitter rivalry, take heart from having a bigger audience, and get a thrill by bringing in more money than the other family. The clever use of the Spanish and French languages and culture within the novel to separate the two entities provides a sharp contrast. It gives this tale a unique quality that I haven’t seen anywhere else.

Stage Acts & Magic

Even though The Weight of Feathers is set in a small southwestern town reliant on a factory for its survival the use of magical elements creates a uniquely blended world that questions what actually is real. Both the Palomas and Corbeaus traveling shows are rooted very much in reality but create a magic all their own. The most intricately detailed stitching of the mermaid tails skimming the surface of the water or the wired wings heavy with feathers floating in the trees bring joy and excitement to all those who come.

Little do the patrons know there is more magic hidden in plain sight. The traveling shows are inspired by the unique characteristics the Palomas and Corbeaus pass down within their families. The Paloma women have escamas (scales) on their bodies while the Corbeaus actually shed feathers from their hair. It’s not heavy fantasy like so many stories are. Just the right touch of magic to inspire the mind to create new wonders.

Final Thoughts

Overall Anna-Marie McLemore’s The Weight of Feathers is a sweeping tale of love and loss that is delivered straight to the heart. The detailed descriptions and inventive writing creates a unique world within our very own that fascinates and delights. Lace and Cluck’s tale is one for the ages and I would definitely recommend this to everyone.

Favorite Quotes

  1. Playing to the aquarium glass built into the side of he spring, they combed their hair with carved conch shells, chased each other’s spangled tails, kissed sea turtles. They smiled underwater without making bubbles, something Lace practiced in every motel pool from Magalia to Lake Isabella.
  2. Their escamas were not some spectacle to be displayed in the show. Apanchanej, the river goddess who had blessed them with their love of water, had given them these marks, and they were not to flaunt them.
  3. The air in the room felt cool and thick as water. It rushed around her, clothed her like kelp ribbons. She touched her hair to check if it was floating. She felt the weight of shells and river pearls holding her breasts. By refusing to be burned away, those escamas had written these things onto her body. They were new birthmarks, unseen but true.
  4. The rain on her dress and his shirt would stick them to each other, dissolve the skin between them, until their veins tangled like roots, and they breathed together, one scaled and dark-feathered thing.
  5. His family would tell him countless men had lost their lives this way. In stories, soldiers and travelers neared ponds and rivers, drawn by les feux follets, those luring lights, and the laughter and singing of water spirits. Some were like Melusine, the river spirit whose legs became fins every Saturday. If a mortal man caught her in her true form, she would turn to a serpent and kill him.

So have you read The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore? Would you rather fly in the trees or swim in the sea? Tell me your thoughts in the comments below?

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3 thoughts on “Book Review: The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore

  1. I love the sound of the lyrical writing and the magical realism quality to the setting! I think this is a book I’ll have to check out for myself, thanks for the great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Posts | Hopeful Reads

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