“He didn’t know how to hate unless he had something to love.”
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.
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As a debut novel, The Weight of Feathers is surprisingly well written. Anna-Marie McLemore deliver a very vivid world of two families with different beliefs, cultures, and histories. The Palomas are Spanish who perform mermaid acts, floating and swimming in the waters, while the Corbeaus are French who are balancing performers flying and dancing around high branches and trees.
The Palomas and Corbeaus hate each other because of the thing that happened more than twenty years ago. A story that is transfer to each generation with both heroes and villains on both sides depends on whose telling the story. A family feud that has taken a bitter turn where everyone hate each other to the point of sabotage and physical attacks happening on both side.
Lace and Cluck are from different sides of the these feuding families. Both raised to hate each other. Convinced since young that the other family is nothing but a villain who will do anything to harm and cursed them.
When Lace and Cluck first met they are both unaware that the other is part of their rival clan. Lace is trying to help Cluck that time from a beating delivered by his cousins. Then another incident happened, wherein Cluck is the one helping Lace that eventually lead Lace’s evictions from the Paloma clan. Without much choice, Lace end up hiding her identity so he can work for the Corbeaus while trying to win b Cluck’s forgiveness which she believes will removed the curse she got from the feather brand in her hand.
Not only Anna-Marie McLemore delivered a vivid imagery in her writing but also beautiful prose that will surely capture readers heart and attention. I’m not sure if I ever encounter a writing style like this before but it definitely stand out from the rest of the books I have finished reading lately. It has a unique quality that I think is impressive for a newly debut author.
“You’re beautiful. It’s just true. His own words hovered in the air like dragonflies. Even when he went out the back door to hang up his shirt, he could hear the humming of their wings. He had no way of knowing if she wanted to swat them away or open her hands to let them land.”
The way Anna-Marie McLemore depicted the life of traveling performers is just educational. She showed not only the ins and outs of performing acts but also the struggles, issues, and dreams of living performers. Add the different cultures, languages and beliefs of the characters, The Weight of Feathers is surely an entertaining and educational read that is more than just Romeo and Juliet look alike.
“This was the bond that they shared that they’d never know. They had both been beaten by men who decided that the only things worth less than their souls were their bodies.”
The Weight of Feathers is an impressive debut novel from Anna-Marie McLemore. With her atmospheric to almost whimsical writing style, flawed yet fascinating characters and knotty conflict, the star cross-lovers plot becomes more compelling, imaginative, and magical than usual. Will definitely read whatever comes next from this talented new author.
* This review is based on an eBook I received courtesy of the publisher, Thomas Dunne Book, an imprint of St. Martin’s Griffin via NetGalley.