A Tangle of Knots
By Lisa Graff
Genre: Magic Realism/Fantasy
Told in multiple viewpoints, A Tangle of Knots is a magnificent puzzle. In a slightly magical world where everyone has a Talent, eleven-year-old Cady is an orphan with a phenomenal Talent for cake baking. But little does she know that fate has set her on a journey from the moment she was born. And her destiny leads her to a mysterious address that houses a lost luggage emporium, an old recipe, a family of children searching for their own Talents, and a Talent Thief who will alter her life forever. However, these encounters hold the key to Cady’s past and how she became an orphan. If she’s lucky, fate may reunite her with her long-lost parent.
Lisa Graff adds a pinch of magic to a sharply crafted plot to create a novel that will have readers wondering about fate and the way we’re all connected.
A Tangle of Knots is a stretch from my normal reading choice, but with a charming cover and promising blurb, it was a an easy stretch to make. I have actually had this title in my “pile” for over a year after stumbling upon it on Goodreads. Having been in a bit of the dreaded slump due to multiple factors, at a mere 230 pages, the time seemed right for this book. I needed something light and refreshing, and that is exactly what I received.
I want to address that this book seems to be labeled as several different reading age groups within the community. The consensus seems to be middle grade so I am going with that. Again, not a typical read for me, but there is no concerning content. Middle grade seems like a reasonable placement. I would not classify this as YA, which I am noticing. Admittedly, I was misled by this fact when adding it to my TBR.
The complexity yet simplicity of what is happening within A Tangle of Knots is where the true beauty of this delightful tale will lie for many. While we have a series of intermingled events occurring, hence the significant title, that the author manages to articulate the story through a crisp and effective style of writing that flows effortlessly.
This is a story of multiple lives that will all cross paths, discovering their fates are all connected. Centered around several charming, and interesting characters the immediate focus appears to be on their talents or lack of initially. Each individual acquires a specific talent during their lifetime, and this is of the most importance to them. Those who have not yet learned their talent are referred to as “Fair”. Shortly into the story we discover that this is however, a tale of more than merely talents. Details behind each character are slowly divulged through alternating perspectives and chapters, revealing the circumstances that have unknowingly entwined each of the characters’ lives, expanding on the story.
“It’s the way we deal with what Fate hands us that defines who we are.”
― Lisa Graff,
The characters are delightful and solicit just enough intrigue to keep you engaged. The events unfold at a fairly fast pace making for a pleasant, yet brief read. This is a book that is broken into quite a few small chapters. While there is a lot unfolding from multiple viewpoints, the author manages each transition between characters with great ease. The over all effect is a delightful story that is suitable for readers of all age.
Another element that added some additional flair to A Tangle of Knots was the addition of cake recipes throughout the story. The author cleverly plays on the fact that one of the main characters has a talent for not only baking cakes, but baking the perfect cake for every person she encounters, introducing those recipes throughout. This was a new experience for me. As someone who enjoys baking, I found this interesting, but was not actually drawn in by the idea. I appreciate a good recipe, but look for them in cookbooks.
“Life is the grandest adventure one can go on, isn’t it?’ said the giant kindly (he seemed to be a very friendly giant). ‘What else could a person ask for than just to be alive?’
Will knew exactly what else a person could ask for. ‘Monsters,’ he said. ‘And cake.”
― Lisa Graff,
Unfortunately, while I enjoyed the characters and hints of magic, I struggled with the length of this story. I know that sounds contradictory since I opened with mentioning that the size of the story was one of the very reasons I chose it. However, when I realized just how much potential there was for A Tangle of Knots, I needed more elaboration. I would have welcomed additional depth and character building, as I was enchanted by each character. World building was limited, being that the story revolves around the lives of others. Not necessarily an issue though. There was definitely an open possibility for even more complexity and richness. However, the scale of the plot is probably due to the targeted audience. The ending, while conclusive, had some predictability that slowly accumulated. It felt a touch too abrupt for my style.
Ultimately, this is a whimsical and engaging read that also serves as a recipe book. I am giving this one 3 stars solely based on my own reading preferences, as it was definitely outside of my accustomed reading grade level. So I struggled at times with the simplicity. I have no doubt though, that this will find an easy and welcomed home on the shelves of many.
⭐ ⭐ ⭐
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