A stand-alone fantasy book.
Publication year: 2016
Publication year of the Finnish edition: 2015
The name of the Finnish edition: Kudottujen kujien kaupunki
Page count: 335
Publisher of the Finnish edition: Teos
Just like her first book, The Memory of Water, the most important aspect of the Weaver is the atmosphere and world-building. Once again, the writing is very beautiful and full of unusual metaphors. The story is set on an island which experiences regular flooding and where dreaming is prohibited by law. This isn’t really an adventure story but it does have more of a plot than the first book.
Eliana is a young weaver who lives in the House of Webs, the House where the weavers live and work. She works hard, is rather quiet, and takes turns being a night-watchman inside the House. However, she has a couple of dangerous secrets: she’s one of the Dreams, who spread deadly Dream Plague among people. If anyone finds out, she will be confined to the Tainted House. She can also read and write which is a rare skill in this world, so she must constantly conceal her skills.
The story starts when a young woman is found outside. She’s been attacked brutally, her tongue cut out. She also has tattoo which only shows in a certain light and that tattoo is Eliana’s name. But Eliana doesn’t know her. Indeed, because the girl lacks the customary tattoos, she seems to have born outside the island. Only very few people visit the island and only merchants are allowed to leave it.
The house-elder, Weaver, gives the mute girl to Eliana’s care, hoping that some connection will become apparent. Instead, Eliana grows very fond of the girl. Slowly, Eliana starts to realize that there are lot of things which the city’s ruling Council is keeping from the people. She also finds out that some people are starting to resist the enigmatic Council.
This book, too, has a strong connection to water. Most of the items the people use in daily life come from the sea: they use glowing algae in their glow-glasses, they eat seaweed, they have watergraphs instead of telegraphs (usable only by the heads of houses), and the healers use singing medusas to help them in their work. The people also wear coral jewelry.
The plot take a long time to develop but when it got going, it swept me away and I read the book in just a couple of days. Eliana and the mute young woman feel very real to me and they develop during the book.
The city has a very structured society: everyone’s House is marked by a tattoo and everyone has to get a yearly tattoo on their arm to mark how old they are. The Council uses lots of guards who are constantly watching the people on the streets. Some houses are segregate by gender: The House of Webs is for women only and the House of Words for men. However, there are ink masters of both genders. Reading is a rare skill, usually taught only to the men in the House of Words.
The Weaver is a dream-like book with lyrical writing. The story is told in first person and present tense which also adds to the atmosphere. There are lots of things I really enjoyed in this story and city.
Unfortunately, I didn’t really care for the ending. It was rather abrupt and strange. But overall, this is a very good reading experience.
Note: the Finnish author also wrote the English version.