Weaver’s Lament has the same elements to recommend it as did its predecessor Brother’s Ruin, but it also has the weaknesses too. The premise is interesting, the world has promise, but nothing is really developed enough for the ideas to really come together. Part of what annoys me is that I’ve read some of Emma Newman’s full novels, so I know she’s capable of good world- and character building, and even if it is YA and a novella, there’s so much that left out that this book feels undeveloped and incomplete.
Charlotte is still living a double life as both a young lady of respectable means, but also secretly a professional illustrator, and un-reported magic user or Latent. She has supposedly been working with Magus Hopkins to learn how to use and control her abilities, but there’s no detail about that given. In fact, the Magus characters from the first book are virtually absent. The cameos by Hopkins seem more like throwaways to remind the reader he exists. At least when Ledbetter appears he seems to have some actual plot function, but he’s not present enough to be the evil villain he was being set up as in the first book.
There isn’t enough of either Charlotte or Ben to explain their perspectives and experiences, and the result is that neither is especially relatable; they both come off as spoiled upper class people trying to explain how the lower working class does and should live. Charlotte seems to like and get along with the other loom workers, but at the same time she also only has grievances on what she experiences, not what the other workers have to go through, and she knows she always has a way out and they don’t. The side comment that maybe she’ll send money to some of the ladies and girls she leaves behind may be intended as kind, but it come off as a side thought that makes her look like a socialite only interested in a good cause when it’s convenient.
The degree of condescension between the two siblings is also pretty off-putting, since he comes off as not caring that people are being abused and dying, and she ends up sounding moralizing with little basis. If he loves her as much as he says, why would Ben knowingly put his sister in danger by having her go undercover as a worker at the mill he’s supposedly helping run, and if she is as protective of him as she says, why would Charlotte risk putting him (and everyone around her) in danger as an unregistered Latent? Her confidence in herself has very little basis.
The other problem I have with Charlotte is that her relationship with Magus Hopkins (what little we get) is getting really cliché. She’s attracted to her handsome and unavailable tutor, but feels guilty about it since her fiance is a really nice guy. If there is a third volume, she’d better make a choice, because I really hate it when this kind of indecision is set up and I’m supposed to feel sympathetic about her needing to choose between a nice guy and stable life or exciting unknown with the hottie who may or may not like her back. Ideally, Charlotte will find a way to tell George who and what she really is, and whatever happens after that can happen as a result.