In the world of Arras, your destiny is decided for you. The Guild controls everything - your food, your family, your profession, your birth, and your death. Those who show a talent for weaving are taken by the Guild to be the prestigious Spinsters at the Coventry. Spinsters are given eternal beauty, luxurious clothing, and delicious food - girls in Arras pray to be taken to be a Spinster - in Arras, it is the only thing a girl can aspire to be other than a secretary. Spinsters are respected and venerated, because they weave the very threads that make up Arras. They control lives, build cities, distribute food, and create families. They also have the power to rip people from the looms and out of existence in Arras.
Adelice Lewys has a special talent for weaving - she can weave without a loom. She can grasp the very strands of time and matter and weave in and out of reality. This rare talent marks her to be the next Creweler, the most distinguished of the Spinsters who is responsible for weaving the raw materials into Arras. Adelice is taken by force into the Coventry and loses the ones she loves along the way. The powerful Guild seeks to control Adelice by threatening to harm her younger sister if she disobeys. For the sake of her sister's safety, Adelice complies when she must, but as she does she finds out the horrors of what the Guild can do in their attempts to control and manipulate the world.
Determined to resist the Guild and escape their suffocating grasp, Adelice plots an escape along with Josten Bell, the Coventry's head valet. However, when she learns that her escape will mean the end of Arras, she must decide whether to save herself or sacrifice her life for the benefit of all of Arras' innocent citizens including her sister Amie and Jost's daughter, Sebrina.