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The Weaver (2015)

by Emmi Itäranta

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20915130,135 (3.45)6
The author of the critically acclaimed Memory of Water returns with this literary ecological tale in the vein of Ursula K. Le Guin and Sheri S. Tepper, in which an innocent young woman becomes entangled in a web of ancient secrets and deadly lies that lie at the dark center of her prosperous island world. Eliana is a model citizen of the island, a weaver in the prestigious House of Webs. She also harbors a dangerous secret--she can dream, an ability forbidden by the island's elusive council of elders. No one talks about the dreamers, the undesirables ostracized from society. But the web of protection Eliana has woven around herself begins to unravel when a young girl is found lying unconscious in a pool of blood on the stones outside the house. Robbed of speech by her attackers, the only clue to her identity is one word tattooed in invisible ink across her palm: Eliana. Why does this mysterious girl bear her name? What links her to the weaver--and could she hold Eliana's fate in her hand? As Eliana finds herself growing closer to this injured girl she is bound to in ways she doesn't understand, the enchanting lies of the island begin to crumble, revealing a deep and ancient corruption. Joining a band of brave rebels determined to expose the island's dark secrets, Eliana becomes a target of ruthless forces determined to destroy her. To save herself and those she loves, she must call on the power within her she thought was her greatest weakness: her dreams.… (more)
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English (11)  Finnish (4)  All languages (15)
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
Another wonderfully haunting story, where the writing is a quiet as the secrets it unfolds. ( )
  juliais_bookluvr | Mar 9, 2023 |
While almost any book will suffer to some extent in translation, there are problems with this book that are not translation-related. The first being the doltishness of the protagonist. To wit:

Scene: you live in a semi-authoritarian state and the police have just shown up to take some of your coworker-roommates away, including at least one child of 10 or 12. You could of course attempt to stop the police from doing this, but any idiot could see that that's going to accomplish nothing beyond getting you carted off as well. It's also not unlikely it would earn both you and the people or person you were trying to rescue worse treatment.

Later on you are hauled off by the police and encounter the child who was taken earlier. The child upbraids you for not saving her, and you, in defiance of all sense, accept full responsibility for the child's situation. Apparently you have such an overdeveloped sense of guilt and have bought so fully into the aphorism that misery loves company that you feel guilty when you can't provide said company. You shouldn't be in prison, but you should seek psychological help (and you should have explain what an asinine attitude the kid was copping, if you ask me).

There are other instances of mental thickness that seem mainly to exist to eliminate any possibility that you, the reader, might in any way be confused. This consists of the main character being lead by the nose (sometimes by herself, other times by others) in steps so minuscule, you find it difficult to imagine that the author isn't deliberately trying to insult your intelligence--memory too, as on at least one occasions the super-obvious event which the main character has to have dissected in front of her happened only a few pages ago and was in no way minor, rather it was quite pivotal.

So, while I liked the setting and the plot, the being led around by the nose and the main character's tedious, overdeveloped senses of guilt and responsibility grated on my nerves. ( )
  qaphsiel | Feb 20, 2023 |
I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway, and the comparisons to Tepper made me eager to read it. However, looking at the current distribution of the star ratings makes me wonder how much of this story is lost in the translation (not just the literal translation but the cultural translation). I found the book slow to start, confusing and difficult to get through -- and ultimately not rewarding in the way that Tepper's novels usually end up being. ( )
  resoundingjoy | Jan 1, 2021 |
The writing is lovely and lyrical, but the story is so dull and makes so little progress that reading it is a slog.

But wow, the worldbuilding is fantastic.
  miri12 | May 31, 2019 |
''This night is different. Sleep is thin in the house, because strange blood is drying on the stones of the square.''

What is left when even the ability to dream (literally) is considered a crime? And even worse, when your dreams are nightmares for which you may be punished severely? You are marked by society, exiled to the House of the Tainted, the left-overs of the community.

I tend to approach every book that wishes to belong to the Dystopian genre with extreme cautiousness. First of all, when [b:1984|5470|1984|George Orwell|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1348990566s/5470.jpg|153313] and [b:The Handmaid's Tale|38447|The Handmaid's Tale|Margaret Atwood|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1498057733s/38447.jpg|1119185] grace my bookcase, there's bound to be a comparison. Secondly, everyone and their mother have decided to write a dystopian novel of late and I have always had a slight disliking for things that are en vogue. However, Emmi Itäranta comes from Finland and call me biased, but I would even read a phone book if it was written by an author from the Nordic lands. And thus, I ventured into The City of Woven Streets.

The title is extremely intriguing and the two themes on which the story is built are dreaming and isolation. This society isn't as bleak and dark as others we have come across. It is made beautiful by the intricate webs created in the House of Weavers. In this dystopia, governed by the Council, dreaming is not allowed. Dreaming equals Freedom, the Council cannot control the thoughts of the islanders and this is toxic to them and their regime. This is a very interesting premise on Itäranta's part. We've seen many kinds of totalitarian societies, but not one where occupation is so absolute, so extreme that stretches into the most private, personal, solitary activity of a human being, that of sleeping.

''First the monster swallows you, then it digests you and eventually you come out of the other end feeling filthy.''

The night terrors can be quite a shocking experience. I used to suffer from sleep paralysis during my university years when my anxiety level was sky-high. Naturally, we know that science has explained this weird phenomenon to the point of exhaustion, but still, I cannot avoid thinking how its traces approach the thin line between the Natural and the Supernatural worlds. In the novel, the writer makes good use of the myth of the night-maere (as is the original spelling), the Old Hag as it is also called. In Greece, we call it ''Mora'' and the people of the past used to believe that it was a demon, visiting those who were ''unclean'', targeted by the devil. Not unsimilar to the belief of the Council in the story. Here, the dominant religion is organised around a mysterious figure of many faces called Our Lady of Weaving, a combination of many goddesses of the European pantheons, and a divinity we never come to know much about.

''A wind does not rise. A rain does not come. The dead stay dead, and do not respond.''
''Do you look at this island and believe you see the truth?''

Placing a dystopian community within the narrow space of an island makes the feeling of isolation and enclosure tense and atmospheric. The mists arising from the waters cover the city and the characters' actions. There is no contact between Eliana and her brother, except for the times when he comes to visit her.

All these must sound very interesting and, believe me they are, but there are a few weaknesses as well. The plot becomes tedious after a point. All the talk and the details about the different kinds of ink and their ingredients become boring and slow down the narration. Around the 60% mark, it became too wordy, with long descriptions that offer nothing new and I began to lose interest. Worse, I started feeling confused, losing touch with the plot and this doesn't happen often. The characters are nothing to write home about, to be honest. Eliana is a nice, sympathetic heroine, clever, loyal, developing an interesting relationship with Valeria- a rather mysterious presence- but nothing we haven't seen before.

I don't know if it is considered a YA novel as I am not familiar with the category, but I can say that it is an interesting book, a nice addition to the Dystopia genre and I definitely intend to read [b:Memory of Water|18505844|Memory of Water|Emmi Itäranta|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1389990493s/18505844.jpg|18908129] by the same author. However, The City of Woven Streets, as well-written as it may be, is not [b:The Handmaid's Tale|38447|The Handmaid's Tale|Margaret Atwood|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1498057733s/38447.jpg|1119185] for the younger generation. ( )
1 vote AmaliaGavea | Jul 15, 2018 |
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I still dream of the island.
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The author of the critically acclaimed Memory of Water returns with this literary ecological tale in the vein of Ursula K. Le Guin and Sheri S. Tepper, in which an innocent young woman becomes entangled in a web of ancient secrets and deadly lies that lie at the dark center of her prosperous island world. Eliana is a model citizen of the island, a weaver in the prestigious House of Webs. She also harbors a dangerous secret--she can dream, an ability forbidden by the island's elusive council of elders. No one talks about the dreamers, the undesirables ostracized from society. But the web of protection Eliana has woven around herself begins to unravel when a young girl is found lying unconscious in a pool of blood on the stones outside the house. Robbed of speech by her attackers, the only clue to her identity is one word tattooed in invisible ink across her palm: Eliana. Why does this mysterious girl bear her name? What links her to the weaver--and could she hold Eliana's fate in her hand? As Eliana finds herself growing closer to this injured girl she is bound to in ways she doesn't understand, the enchanting lies of the island begin to crumble, revealing a deep and ancient corruption. Joining a band of brave rebels determined to expose the island's dark secrets, Eliana becomes a target of ruthless forces determined to destroy her. To save herself and those she loves, she must call on the power within her she thought was her greatest weakness: her dreams.

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