Review: Weave a Circle Round by Kari Maaren

Title Weave a Circle Round
Author Kari Maaren
Genre Fantasy, YA, Mythology, Time Travel
Format eARC
Page Length 362
Publication Date 28 Nov 2017
Publisher Tor Books
Read Date Nov 2017
Rating 5.373339 stars

Synopsis
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.

I don’t even know how to start a review for this! If you take the wonderful wacky imagination of children, put it in a bucket, put a lid on it, shake it all up, take off the lid and stick in your head – this novel is what you would end up with.

I went into this thinking it was going to be a gentle, contemporary, coming of age, YA story with maybe a magical realism aspect. Oh boy, was I ever wrong?! Our protagonist is Freddy Duchamp – a 14yr old (not 10!) traversing through life. Her parents have divorced and she is living with her mum, step-dad, younger sister (Mel) and same age step-brother (Roland). Everything is relatively normal in the life of Freddy. She is somewhat of an introvert that enjoys spending time reading in peace and quiet. She has a couple of friends at school, but isn’t part of the popular crowd. She is remarkably good at not being remarkable. It’s a completely boring normal life. That is, until Cuerva Lachance and Josiah abruptly move in next door. Then everything goes completely bat-shit crazy! Do not be fooled – this novel is not a gentle walk in the park. Although, there is some walking in the park in several chapters.

Josiah is also 14 years old, and so he starts at the same school as Freddy and Roland attend. He’s cocky, unsociable, short tempered, and generally disinterested in anything the teachers have to teach. He claims this is because he’s seen it all before. Although Josiah seems a bit quirky at times, Cuerva Lachance dials this up to 11. Never able to hold her attention on anything longer than 3 minutes, she’s impulsive and bizarre. One minute she may be eating a pear, the next she is painting something blue, the next she is chasing a squirrel up a tree.

One day, Freddy is round Josiah and Cuerva Lachance’s and when she walks out the back door, she and Josiah time travel. Yep, just like that. We then go on a series of mini adventures learning about Josiah and Cuerva Lachance, who they are, why they moved into the area, and who is this mysterious Three that Josiah mentions.

It wasn’t that she didn’t care. It was hard to watch someone die, even if the someone was not on your side. It was that she had been travelling through time for nearly a year and a half. She had already seen many people die. She hadn’t got used to it, but she thought she had got a little numb.

There were several moments through this when I thought, Did that just happen? What?! Then I would go back and reread the last page or so, and think Yep, yep it did just happen. I guess I should go with the flow. I think the whole mantra to have when reading this is Don’t question it too much. Just accept it happened and anything else could happen and keep reading. I’m being a little vague here as I really don’t want to spoil too much. Things happen out of the blue, with no build up or foresight at all. This can create a feeling of complete chaos at times. It appears that things happen for no reason but stick with it, because everything comes together so well towards the end.

“Nobody ever knows what’s going to happen next,” said Freddy. “But we need to find out.”

As regular readers of my reviews will know, I enjoy a story with diverse characters. This story has several excellent examples of diversity. Some characters are white, some are black, some are mixed race, some are chinese, some are African, some are Norse. Roland is deaf. This is not the defining character trait of Roland. I feel it would have been easy to write a deaf character that is a little oblivious to the world around him, as well as being a little stupid and having communication as being a difficulty for other characters. This is not what we have here. Roland lip-reads (as well as signs), and speaks to people in the same way as any other character would. Yes, he is deaf, but he is also a fully formed character as well. I have a 16 year old brother that is deaf, and so I can not express how happy I am to see such a positive representation of a deaf character. On a slightly more light-hearted note, there is a moment in the novel when Roland turns away from someone so he can’t see what they are saying to him. It is described in the story as the equivalent of a hearing person sticking fingers in their ears and yelling ‘lalalalala’. It reminded me of a moment several years back when my brother was being told off for something. He very calmly, and without breaking eye contact with the person telling him off, raised his hand to his ear and switched off his hearing aid. I found the moment completely hilarious. Not everyone in the room did.

Anyway, if I had to criticize something about this, it would be that there are some moments that felt a little rushed. The quote ‘Don’t tell us, show us.’ popped into my head at a few points. But I am being super picky with that. It would have to be a 600 page novel to accommodate everything.

The theme of chaos, order and the balance between the two is explored throughout. Complete chaos is… well, chaotic. But, order without a smattering of chaos is stale and boring. Through the balance between the two, we have creativity and human development. Another theme throughout is around destiny and free will. I am not a person that believes in luck or destiny. I believe things happen as a result of our actions. But this idea of whether we can change our destiny is explored really well.

Other things I don’t have time to mention (or am I purposefully leaving them out? Who knows?):
– DnD/Role Playing Games. NEEEEEERRRRRDDDDS. 😉
– Everything adorable about Mel.
– Characters from Mythology.
– Literature references.
– Poetry references.
– Pizza.

Kari Maaren has done an outstanding job of crafting a story that keeps you on the edge throughout. It feels whimsical on the surface, but with just a little consideration from the reader, it has so much depth and meaning. I will definitely be rereading this one. I’m sure there are little things throughout that I missed with my first readthrough.

Anyway, I am off to play the organ badly. Peace and Love.

I received a copy of this from Netgalley. My thanks to the publisher for this opportunity. This is my honest review.

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4 Comments

  1. Sounds like an interesting read! I would definitely have found that moment with your brother hilarious! Its so the kind of stunt I would have pulled! My Dad actually broke his hand once trying to catch me when I was a teenager and I made an evasive move so he caught a wall instead! 😂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That is one banger of a review, Stark! Fabulous!
    Everything just sounds very good about it… even though, the time travel bit does not appeal to me. It never does, really… But so glad to see you enjoyed this and I bet it gave you a book hangover?! 😀

    Ha, the story about your brother is just classic! My hubs used to drive the community bus for elderly (shopping, daily out and abouts, etc) and there was (is) this couple, she is about 80 and he is about 90. He wears the hearing aid and every time she started giving out to him on the bus, he always did the same- turned off the hearing aid. Everyone happy- woman got the issues off her chest, while he was ever so blissfully unaware! hehehe…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have a super heavy book hangover from it. I find time travel stories a bit hit or miss. The good thing about this is that it is a story with time travel in it, rather than being a time travel story (if that makes sense).

      My brother will also just turn down his hearing aids if he is in a crowded environment. I envy this ability. I often want to just turn down the world around me.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That made perfect sense… I think I could deal with this kind of story that has a bit of time travel rather than being wholly centred around the time travel alone…

        ah, bless him. and I totally understand your point… sometimes the world is, indeed, too loud!

        Liked by 1 person

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