Weave a Circle Round by Kari Maaren
Freddy wants desperately to not be noticed. She doesn't want to be seen as different or unusual, but her step-brother Roland gets attention because he's deaf, and her little sister Mel thinks she's a private detective. All Freddy wants to do is navigate high school with as little trouble as possible.
Then someone moves into the house on Grosvenor Street. Two extremely odd someones.
Cuerva Lachance and Josiah aren't . . . normal. When they move in next door, the house begins to exhibit some decidedly strange tendencies, like not obeying the laws of physics or reality. Just as Freddy thinks she's had enough of Josiah following her around, she's plunged into an adventure millennia in the making and discovers the truth about the new neighbors.
Disclaimer: I received this book for free from NetGalley and Tor Books in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Freddy wants nothing more in this life than to be invisible.
This becomes horribly impossible when the eccentric Cuerva Lachance and moody Josiah move in next door. Cuerva has a way of producing the impossible, and Josiah? He manages to bring Freddy into the spotlight at every turn, especially at school where she’s already a freak. If she could just shake him off… but no, she can’t, and his presence is especially useful with Freddy is beaten up at school and gets a concussion.
Which is probably the most inopportune moment for Josiah to take Freddy on an extended trip through time, thanks to the fact Cuerva Lachance turned the back door into a time portal back to nordic Sweden. The two of them must ride resonance waves in time to find their way home while Freddy unravels the mystery of Cuerva Lachance and Josiah, and what exactly they want with her and her siblings.
I thought this book was absolute chaos.
It’s not bad chaos, per se, but you really need to focus and keep up. I imagine this writing style was intentional, because it plays in beautifully with Cuerva Lachance’s character. One minute, things are one way. The next they are completely different. Never trust what you are seeing, because in a moment everything can change. It’s the type of story that tosses you around until you’re not quite sure what’s going on and you sort of wish they’d get to it already.
It’s also a time travel book. This is the part where I had the greatest difficulty keeping up. Transitions between realities become practically non-existent. Josiah will start one sentence in the 92nd century, and finish it in the Victorian era. These quicker flashes feel less and less relevant to the story, and became sort of like filler episodes? Not bad necessarily, more of a “I’m not sure why this matters”.
The characters are delightful.
No matter how messy I find a plot, I can usually stick it out if the characters are fun. And they are. Cuerva Lachance is wildly unpredictable, right down to playing an organ in the wee hours of night. Josiah’s got that patented Angst that makes it impossible not to love him. Mel is adorably curious and Roland is this hulking protective step-brother who play D&D. Freddy, our main character, is a sad pile of goo before she meets Josiah and then becomes this tall, brave, reasoning soul. Not because of Josiah, but because of the adventure he causes. I enjoyed all of them.
Additionally, the characters we see through time are similar-but-different and without giving away much about the time periods and what not, I will say that they’re also quite wonderfully fun.
I really liked this book, even though I was a bit frustrated at times.
Weave a Circle Round borrows its title from the poem “Kubla Khan”. There’s literary and mythological references galore throughout the novel. And it had such a strong feel to A Wrinkle in Time which was one of my childhood favorites. Freddy and Meg are by no means the same character, but they have the same feeling as you read and in some ways it was like visiting an old friend. Even Cuerva Lachance reminded me of Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatsit, and Mrs. Which. Again, not in a copying-the-character sort of way, but in a wise, big, chaotic sense. I really, really loved the parallels.
I think this book would be a great fit for ages 12-16, but it’s also readable if you’re a bit older than that. I think that older readers will appreciate more of the literary references and layering put into this novel, while younger readers will be delighted by the time travel story.
Weave a Circle Round is available from Tor Books on November 28th. You can preorder your copy from any of the links below.