Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Blog Tour: The Weight of Feathers (With Giveaway!)

Hey everyone! I'm really excited to be part of THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS tour. Today, I'll be sharing an excerpt and quote from this novel as well as hosting a giveaway. First, for those who haven't heard of THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS yet...

"For twenty years, the Palomas and the Corbeaus have been rivals and enemies, locked in an escalating feud for over a generation. Both families make their living as traveling performers in competing shows—the Palomas swimming in mermaid exhibitions, the Corbeaus, former tightrope walkers, performing in the tallest trees they can find.

Lace Paloma may be new to her family’s show, but she knows as well as anyone that the Corbeaus are pure magia negra, black magic from the devil himself. Simply touching one could mean death, and she's been taught from birth to keep away. But when disaster strikes the small town where both families are performing, it’s a Corbeau boy, Cluck, who saves Lace’s life. And his touch immerses her in the world of the Corbeaus, where falling for him could turn his own family against him, and one misstep can be just as dangerous on the ground as it is in the trees.

Beautifully written, and richly imaginative, The Weight of Feathers is an utterly captivating young adult novel by a talented new voice."

Published: September 15th 2015 by Thomas Dunne
Add it on Goodreads

Excerpt: THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS by Anna-Marie McLemore. Copyright © 2015 by the author and reprinted by permission of Thomas Dunne Books / St. Martin’s Griffin.

The feathers were Lace’s first warning. They showed up between suitcases, in the trunk
of her father’s station wagon, on the handles of came-with-the-car first-aid kits so old the gauze
had yellowed. They snagged on antennas, turning the local stations to static.

Lace’s mother found a feather in with the family’s costumes the day they crossed into
Almendro, a town named for almond fields that once filled the air with the scent of sugary
blossoms and bitter wood. But over the last few decades an adhesive plant had bought out the
farms that could not survive the droughts, and the acres of almonds dwindled to a couple of
orchards on the edge of town.

The wisp of that black feather caught on a cluster of sequins. Lace knew from the set to
her mother’s eyes that she’d throw the whole mermaid tail in a bucket and burn it, elastane and

Lace grabbed the tail and held on. If her mother burned it, it would take Lace and her
great-aunt at least a week to remake it. Tía Lora’s hands were growing stiff, and Lace’s were
new and slow.

Her mother tried to pull the tail from her grip, but Lace balled the fabric in her hands.

“Let go,” her mother warned.

“It’s one feather.” Lace dug in her fingers. “It’s not them.” Lace knew the danger of
touching a Corbeau. Her abuela said she’d be better off petting a rattlesnake. But these feathers
were not the Corbeaus’ skin. They didn’t hold the same poison as a Corbeau’s body.

“It’s cursed,” her mother said. One hard tug, and she won. She threw the costume tail into
a bucket and lit it. The metal pail grew hot as a stove. The fumes off the melting sequins stung
Lace’s throat.

“Did you have to burn the whole thing?” she asked.

“Better safe, mija,” her mother said, wetting down the undergrowth with day-old aguas
frescas so the brush wouldn’t catch.

They could have cleaned the tail, blessed it, stripped away the feather’s touch. Burning it
only gave the Corbeaus more power. Those feathers already had such weight. The fire in the pail
was an admission that, against them, Lace’s family had no guard.

Before Lace was born, the Palomas and the Corbeaus had just been competing acts, two
of the only shows left that bothered with the Central Valley’s smallest towns. Back then it was
just business, not hate. Even now Lace’s family sometimes ended up in the same town with a
band of traveling singers or acrobats, and there were no fights, no blood. Only the wordless
agreement that each of them were there to survive, and no grudges after. Every fall when the
show season ended, Lace’s aunts swapped hot-plate recipes with a trio of trapeze artists. Her
father traded homeschooling lesson plans with a troupe of Georgian folk dancers.

The Corbeaus never traded anything with anyone. They shared nothing, took nothing.

They kept to themselves, only straying from the cheapest motel in town to give one of Lace’s
cousins a black eye, or leave a dead fish at the riverbank. Lace and Martha found the last one, its
eye shining like a wet marble.

Before Lace was born, these were bloodless threats, ways the Corbeaus tried to rattle her
family before their shows. Now every Paloma knew there was nothing the Corbeaus wouldn’t

Lace’s mother watched the elastane threads curl inside a shell of flame. “They’re
coming,” she said.

“Did you think they wouldn’t?” Lace asked. Her mother smiled. “I can hope, can’t I?”

She could hope all she wanted. The Corbeaus wouldn’t give up the crowds that came
with Almendro’s annual festival. So many tourists, all so eager to fill their scrapbooks. That
meant two weeks in Almendro. Two weeks when the younger Paloma men hardened their fists,
and their mothers prayed they didn’t come home with broken ribs.

Lace’s grandmother set the schedule each year, and no one spoke up against Abuela. If
they ever did, she’d pack their bags for them. Lace had watched Abuela cram her cousin Licha’s
things into a suitcase, clearing her perfumes and lipsticks off the motel dresser with one sweep of
her arm. When Lace visited her in Visalia and they went swimming, Licha’s two-piece showed
that her escamas, the birthmarks that branded her a Paloma, had disappeared.

Lace’s mother taught her that those birthmarks kept them safe from the Corbeaus’
feathers. That family was el Diablo on earth, with dark wings strapped to their bodies, French on
their tongues, a sprinkling of gypsy blood. When Lace slept, they went with her, living in
nightmares made of a thousand wings.

Another black feather swirled on a downdraft. Lace watched it spin and fall. It settled in
her hair, its slight weight like a moth’s feet.

Her mother snatched it off Lace’s head. “¡Madre mía!” she cried, and threw it into the

Lace’s cousins said the Corbeaus grew black feathers right out of their heads, like hair.

She never believed it. It was another rumor that strengthened the Corbeaus’ place in their
nightmares. But the truth, that wind pulled feathers off the wings they wore as costumes, wasn’t
a strong enough warning to keep Paloma children from the woods.

“La magia negra,” her mother said. She always called those feathers black magic.

The fire dimmed to embers. Lace’s mother gave the pail a hard kick. It tumbled down the
bank and into the river, the hot metal hissing and sinking.

“Let them drown,” her mother said, and the last of the rim vanished.


Anna-Marie McLemore was born in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains and grew up in a Mexican-American family. She attended University of Southern California on a Trustee Scholarship. A Lambda Literary Fellow, she has had work featured by the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West, CRATE Literary Magazine's cratelit, Camera Obscura's Bridge the Gap Series, and The Portland Review. The Weight of Feathers is her first novel.

Giveaway: Thanks to the fabulous people at Thomas Dunne, I am giving away one copy of THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS. This giveaway is only open to US and CA participants and ends October 3rd. Good luck, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

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Anna-Marie McLemore


St. Martin’s Griffin



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