Title: The Weight of Feathers
Author: Anna-Marie McLemore
Publisher: Thomas Dunne
Release Date: September 15th 2015
The Palomas and the Corbeaus have long been rivals and enemies, locked in an escalating feud for more than a generation. Both families make their living as travelling 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 magianegra, black magic from the devil himself. Simply touching one could mean death, and she’s been taught since 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.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
My Thoughts On…
After finishing When the Moon Was Ours, which is my favourite magical realism book of the year so far, I moved The Weight of Feathers to the top of my to-read list. While I preferred When the Moon Was Ours The Weight of Feathers was still a brilliant magical realism book; it’s a wonderful story, with amazing characters and a fair bit of enchantment. Anna-Marie McLemore has become one of my auto-buy authors now, anything she writes will go to the top of my to-read list and I can’t wait to see what she comes out with next.
Lace is a Paloma, one of the two travelling performing families. During the day she helps her great-aunt make the costumes and helps her cousins with their make-up but each evening she dresses in her mermaid tail and, together with her cousins, puts on a performance for the locals. Cluck is a Corbeau. Their act is performed in the trees, and with the wings Cluck creates they dance like fairies through the branches.
After something that happened years before, resulting in two deaths, the Paloma’s and the Corbeau’s have been bitter enemies. They each believe the other family is cursed but when Lace gets caught out in the poison rain and one of the Corbeau boys touches her to take her to the hospital Lace herself becomes cursed. She is thrown out of her family and with nowhere to go, believing she owes Cluck something more to get the feather burn on her arm removed, she goes to the Corbeau’s to try and make amends.
Unlike Lace Cluck is not part of his families performance. He is despised by everyone, seen as cursed because the feathers that grow in his hair are tinged with red and not pure black. Instead he hides away with their wings, creating them for their shows and seeking refuge from his brother and mother. Cluck doesn’t realise Lace is one of the Paloma’s. All he sees is a local girl who needs his help, who he enjoys spending time with and who he wants to keep around.
The more time Lace spends with the Corbeau’s the more she sees a different side to them; she sees the magic and wonder in their shows, and she sees the kindness of Cluck and some of his cousins. However as a Paloma Lace knows if she is discovered they will kill her, and she knows her feelings for Cluck are the quickest way to get her into trouble.
Lace is loyal to her family and her abuela, who runs the family. She believes all of the rumours about the Corbeau’s and their magic; she has been taught to avoid them, to fight them if necessary but never to touch them for fear of their curse spreading. But after her stay at the hospital, when a burn in the shape of a feather appears on her arm, Lace believes she has been cursed by Cluck. She believes the only way to get rid of the burn, and return to her family, is to earn his forgiveness.
Despite throwing away some of her families superstitions as she spends more time with the Corbeau’s Lace still is a Paloma first and foremost. She still believes once day she will be able to return to her family and become one of their mermaids again.
Cluck has never really belonged to his family. When he was nine his fingers were broken by his brother and ever since then his left hand has been crippled. His whole life he has been beaten by his older brother and ignored and scorned by his mother but he sees a life away from the Corbeau’s as some distant dream, too far for him to reach. Cluck is unaware of who Lace really is, he sees nothing more than a local girl who he likes spending time with.
The relationship between Cluck and Lace is one that develops slowly. Lace is terrified of Cluck, and his family, finding out who she is but she needs his forgiveness and she is determined to earn it. The more time she spends with him the more she sees past the rumours and whispers her family have shared about the Corbeau’s and their curse.
The relationships both Lace and Cluck have with their individual families are very similar. Both bow to the whims of the matriarchal figure who runs the family with an iron fist and takes no nonsense from anyone. Both Lace’s abuela and Cluck’s mother are strong characters, but in the way that beat down the people who dare to stand against them.
There is a lot of tension between both families; because of something that happened long before Cluck and Lace were born the two families have been at war with one another. No one is sure what really happened, the Corbeau’s blame the Paloma’s and the Paloma’s blame the Corbeau’s, all it has done is foster generation after generation of hatred between the two families. Hatred which comes to a head in the few weeks both families are at Almendro at the same time.
I haven’t read many magical realism books, but if the ones still on my to-read list are anything like Anna -Marie McLemore’s works then it’s going to fast become a favourite genre of mine. The Weight of Feathers was a wonderful book focusing on Cluck, Lace, their families, and the curses which have haunted them for so many years now.
If you’re looking to jump into the magical realism genre I would highly recommend either of Anna-Marie McLemore’s books.
What did you think of The Weight of Feathers? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.