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The Weight of Feathers Hardcover – September 15, 2015

4.5 out of 5 stars 61 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up—For almost an entire generation, the Palomas and the Corbeaus have been rivals in a steadily escalating feud that is fueled by hearsay and fantasized superstitions. Both families' livelihood is dependent on their itinerant performances, from one town to the next, and both family shows have turned competitive, with the Corbeaus performing tightropelike acts in the trees and the Palomas presenting mermaid exhibitions in the natural waterways. Members of the families are born with particular marks that brand them according to their lineage. The Corbeaus have a patch of feathers at the base of their hairline, and the Palomas have a series of patterned scales. No Paloma, under any circumstance, should dare touch a Corbeau, or vice versa, for fear that this simple act could cause a potentially fatal catastrophe. This mandate does not keep Lucien "Cluck" Corbeau from rescuing Lace Paloma from a chemical disaster. That fateful moment spurred the beginnings of their star-crossed romance and forever changes the lives of the two clans. In this tale of magical realism, the magic is so deftly woven into the fabric of the story, readers might overlook the more subtle moments. VERDICT Told with skillful poetic nuances, this Romeo-and-Juliet story of forbidden love will entice fans of Maggie Stiefvater's "Raven Cycle" (Scholastic) who wished for a little more romance.—Sabrina Carnesi, Crittenden Middle School, Newport News, VA


“Readers beguiled by the languorous language-a striking mix of French and Spanish phrases, wry colloquialism, lush imagery, and elevated syntax-will find themselves falling under its spell. The third-person narration alternates between Lace and Cluck, doling out twists and building to a satisfying, romantic conclusion. A contemporary, magical take on an ever compelling theme.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“A gripping, beautifully rendered story with prose reminiscent of Eva Luna and a fantastical world as captivating as that of The Night Circus.” ―Sabaa Tahir, author of An Ember in the Ashes

"Scales and feathers touch and burn in McLemore’s stunning debut. The beauty of the language wraps around you, not letting go until long after the final page.” ―Jaleigh Johnson, New York Times-bestselling author of The Mark of the Dragonfly and Secrets of Solace

“Draws us into a world that's magical but still feels very, very real. The writing is beautiful, fluid, lyrical. I never wanted this story to end.” ―Robin Talley, author of Lies We Tell Ourselves

“A gorgeous debut, lush and heart-tuggingly romantic, full of bittersweet magic.” ―Jessica Spotswood, author of The Cahill Witch Chronicles

“An unmissable story... Will leave you enchanted till the last page. Beautiful.” ―Emery Lord, author of Open Road Summer

“A dazzling debut full of imaginative flair, long-buried secrets, and hypnotic power. It drew me in with its gorgeous passages and left me reeling with a fantastical story about love and struggling against the confines of family and creating a life all your own,.―Nova Ren Suma, author of The Walls Around Us and Imaginary Girls


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: A Thomas Dunne Book for St. Martin's Griffin (September 15, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250058651
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250058652
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #186,015 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
** Trigger warning for violence, including domestic abuse, as well as rape. **

“The rain on her dress and his shirt would stick them to each other, dissolve the skin between them, until their veins tangled like roots, and they breathed together, one scaled and dark-feathered thing.”

Lace’s first encounter with Cluck is in the parking lot of a convenience store located on the outskirts of Almendro, California, a sleepy little town. Three of her cousins are attacking Cluck, pummeling him with their fists and feet, for no reason other than his perceived difference. Well-versed in the art of taking a beating – thanks to his older brother Dax – Cluck just lies there, taking it, hoping that his lack of participation will sap some of the fun out of their “game.” Lace chases his attackers away, and then offers Cluck ice cubes wrapped in her scarf to sooth his cuts and bruises. Both mistake the other for a local – when, in fact, they are members of two rival families of traveling performers.

The Palomas and Corbeaus travel all across North America, but always cross paths in Almendro; the crowd drawn there by the annual Blackberry Festival is just too good to pass up. For years, they were simply rivals, showpeople competing over the same sets of eyeballs. But one flooded lake and two dead performers – one from each family – turned them to enemies. Each blames the other for the “natural disaster,” with the stories and superstitions becoming more outlandish year after year. Each family can agree on one thing, however: the only acceptable way to touch a Paloma (or Corbeau) is in the pursuit of violence.

Their next meeting comes under even worse circumstances, if you can imagine. It’s after sunset, and both Lace and Cluck’s respective shows have concluded.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Palomas and Corbeaus have a long-standing feud, twenty years to be exact. Not only are they rival performers (with the Palomas swimming in the water like mermaids, and the Corbeaus dancing in the trees like birds), they've had what they believe to be personal loss inflicted upon them by the other. Two weeks out of every year the families end up performing at the same time, in the same small town. Since childhood the Paloma's have always been taught to stay away from the Corbeaus and their magia negra. Likewise, the Corbeaus have always been taught never to go near the Palomas with their magie noire. Unless of course they're throwing punches, that contact is highly encouraged.

This is the first year Lace Paloma will get to wear a tail and perform with her cousins in the show. She doesn't want anything to mess up this chance, she's been dreaming about it forever. But when disaster strikes the small town of Almendro where the families are performing, Lace's life is saved by one of the very people she's been warned away from.

Cluck may be a Corbeau by name, but he's treated like le diable by most of his family. Not being allowed to perform in the trees with his brother and cousins, Cluck contributes by making their beautiful wings. When he saves Lace, he doesn't know at the time that she's a Paloma.

When Lace figures out the boy who helped her was a Corbeau, she's cast out of the family. Trying to get back in the Palomas' good graces Lace sends up incorporating herself into the very family she's been taught to hate. In doing so, Lace begins to question the very superstitions that reign supreme within both families.

Magical Realism is one of my favorite sub-genres of fiction.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This enjoyable, though not spectacular, Romeo-and-Juliet story focuses on two competing families of performers, the Spanish-speaking Palomas (Doves) and the French-speaking Corbeaus (Crows), who travel through central California and put on their shows in small towns. The Palomas perform in the water, with their women dressed in fish-tailed mermaid costumes, while the Corbeaus, whose act is descended from tightrope-walking, put on huge homemade wings and dance gracefully in the branches of trees.

The families’ schedules overlap each year in the fictional Central Valley town of Almendra, but it is not a happy reunion. Each family hates the other, believing that the opposing family is soaked in black magic so strong that even touching a member of that clan is dangerous. Each blames the other for a disaster that occurred twenty years before, when a sudden flood in the lake near Almendra killed members of both troupes. During one of these meetings at Almendra, another disaster—an explosion at a nearby adhesives plant that makes toxic chemicals rain from the sky—introduces Lace, a young Paloma woman, to “Cluck,” a Corbeau teenager rejected and mistreated by his own family (he got his nickname from the fact that the fingers on his left hand curl inward like a chicken’s claw, the result of his bullying older brother’s having broken them when he was a child). The two slowly become fond of each other, a process that continues even after Lace discovers that Cluck is a Corbeau (Cluck does not learn Lace’s family name until late in the book).

For most of the book I was not sure whether it was a fantasy or not.
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