I really enjoyed the first book of Jennifer Albin’s trilogy, Crewel, but the second one book Altered was a letdown. Yes, it’s difficult to be the middle book in a trilogy, just like it’s difficult to be the middle child, a la Jan, “Marsha, Marsha, Marsha” but I think Ms. Albin could have made this one stronger by focusing less on the love triangle between Adelice and the brothers.
The book also suffered from going a bit off the fantasy deep end. In the first book I had made my peace with the fantasy element of how the weaving worked because overall the book was more heavily focused on the dystopian story of Adelice being forced into the role of Spinster and how she was rebelling against her situation, while still holding out hope of saving her sister.
I hoped for Earth to be a more interesting adventure and I found it confusing that since the author chose to bring Earth into the story, that she rewrote history so that Earth was destroyed in or shortly after WWII. If that was the case, then where did all the modern technology reminiscent of current earth come from? TV, digifiles (thinly disguised iPads) etc. as they items were not around at that time. Then there’s the Sunrunners, a shadowy group never fully fleshed out, but again solar technology being an ‘of the now’ technology.
I also kept thinking that she meant Cormac Patton was General Patton by both the time frame and the way she often described him. I liked the character of Cormac, for a bad guy, he was entertaining, but then Ms. Albin had to throw Kincaid into the mix. When you have an amusing Johnny Depp, why throw in a Vincent Price? Kincaid was simply creepy and it split the tension too much to have two equal bad guys. In the first story, there was Maela and Cormac, but Maela was Cruella de Ville, another entertaining bad guy and not near as powerful as Cormac so it worked better. The concept of the Remnants is kind of cool as their as it fits in with the weaving element, though it felt like a few shades of zombie to me, and there’s already enough jarring elements going on.
On the good guy side, there’s a new character Dante, but he feels a bit unnecessary. I suppose there needs to be a character who serves to introduce them to the new situation they find themselves in, but the contrived way his character is connected to Adelice rang hollow for me.
I am trying to figure out if the author was simply wanting to avoid “second book syndrome” by throwing a lot more into this book than the first, to avoid the criticism of being boring/dragging the story out until the climax of the third book, or whether she was simply having fun throwing in elements she personally finds interesting…WWII, geishas, solar technology, Alcatraz, etc. I guess in the end the ‘why’ doesn’t matter, but the effect does. For the end effect is a mish mash of a book that I struggled with. However, I have high hopes for the final book based on the ending of this one, where Ms. Albin redeemed herself in my eyes by pulling everything back around to the core elements of the first book, and setting up a situation where Adelice must find her own strength and not rely on, nor be distracted by others.