The Crafter at the Web’s Heart is a powerful tale of magic and the collapse of a society that benefits the rich and forgets the poor. Our lead character is a rogue at heart who gets caught up in a plot to level-set the world and bring about massive change. There are two main strengths that stand out: the depiction of magic and its effects on the caster, and a critique of a society centered on a culture of wealth.
The depiction of magic is fascinating, to say the least. The more people practice magic, the more their bodies begin to change into the type of magic they practice. Those who try to grow plants become plantlike. Those who spend their time reading spells out of books eventually turn into books. The city is filled with people in various states of transformation and it creates a brilliant visual for the reader. Magic makes the story come alive, providing a number of chases and battles within this limited short story space. Wasserstein has created a world I desperately want to explore.
At it’s heart, the story looks at this society and how it has been ravaged by greed and an ignorance of those struggling on the outskirts. We see houses and whole neighborhoods on the verge of collapse as people starve and struggle to make ends meet. One can only assume that so much magic is done because people are struggling to get by. They know they’ll lose themselves, but it’s the only way they can survive. This separates the users into two groups: those who practice to survive and those who practice to dominate. We see both types of characters stuck within this warped power dynamic.
The Crafter at the Web’s Heart is a wonderfully inventive tale filled with adventure and intrigue. Above all, it’s a deeply-wrought character piece that will plant itself firmly within your imagination.
The Crafter at the Web's Heart
Written by Izzy Wasserstein