Warm weather’s coming, and pandemic restrictions are easing as vaccines become readily available, at least in the USA. It’s almost the time of year for a beach book, a park book, a camping book or even just a sitting-on-the-front-porch-sipping-iced-tea book, and Sarah Madsen’s Weaver’s Folly (2021) is an excellent candidate.
Madsen and I share a publisher, Falstaff Books. I bought my copy of Weaver’s Folly on Amazon and I’m getting no special consideration for this review. Weaver’s Folly is the first book of the SHADOWSPINNER Series.
Weaver’s Folly features elves in a futuristic Atlanta. Alyssa is a “runner” or a thief, whose (charming!) cover job is selling “antiques” — MP3 players, cell phones and tablets, for instance. Nearly everyone has a neuro-implant except Alyssa, whose rare magical ability would fry the circuitry and possibly her brain. When Alyssa partners with a young cocky human thief, Logan, he raises his eyebrows at the cell phone she uses to contact people. Logan and Alyssa team up to rob one of the highest-security corporations in the USA; what could possibly go wrong?
The details of the heist, most notably what they’re stealing, are vague, but there’s a plot reason for this. I liked the heist details, but Madsen’s characters gave me the most enjoyment. In addition to Alyssa’s human roommate Rose and her clairvoyant friend Jeremiah, we meet various elves, as well as Logan, the techie thief, and Tristian, Alyssa’s elvish ex. As Logan and Alyssa set up the heist, she’s approached by a sleek, wealthy elvish woman who says she represents the elvish council of the White Hart and wants Alyssa’s help on an elvish-human partnership. This flies in the face of everything Alyssa understands about her people and their relationships with humans, but before she can think too much about it, she’s being attacked by elemental creatures; a storm drake and a troll, just for starters.
I thought I figured out who the villain was pretty early, and I was right, but it didn’t spoil my enjoyment because I didn’t know what that villain wanted. The balance of action with glamor and romance was right — Alyssa is balancing her “work” against rekindling interest in Tristian, and a new flame. While the plot arc completes, the story still ends on a cliffhanger, because the villain isn’t done yet and clearly has their sites on a bigger target than just Atlanta.
Madsen’s fluid prose propels the story along through various settings, both future-Atlanta and the elven world, with some perfect physical descriptions. In one place, she describes the roof of a building; it’s a simple description, told with action as Logan and Alyssa try to breach the building; it grounds them both in place and time perfectly.
I loved Alyssa’s motorcycle, her various magic spells, which looked quite a bit like conventional folk magic (that’s a plus for me), and the descriptions of places in Atlanta. I loved the retropunks and the elf-wannabes. What will bring me back to the SHADOWSPINNER CHRONICLES, though, is the excellent cast of secondary characters.