Book Review: Weave A Circle Round by Kari Maaren
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating: 2.5 of 5 stars
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Tor (November 28, 2017)
Length: 336 pages
Weave A Circle Round was a book I’d been really looking forward to, but I realized almost as soon as I picked it up that it was going to be very different from what I had in mind. As a result, I found it to be a difficult read, though to be fair, my struggle with it was not so much in a “this is a terrible book” kind of way, but rather more in the sense that “This isn’t what I signed up for, and I want off this ride.”
And to be honest, this story did feel a little like a roller coaster—albeit a nauseatingly chaotic one which would get bogged down and stuck at times. It follows fourteen-year-old Freddy, an awkward freshman who just wants to get through the next four years of high school without drawing too much attention. At home, she also prefers spending time by herself, making little effort to get to know her stepbrother Roland, who is deaf, or to get involved in her little sister Mel’s interests. Their parents are never around, so the kids are mostly left on their own to take care of themselves.
Then one day, a woman and a teenage boy move into that peculiar house down on Grosvenor Street. There’s only one word that can describe Cuerva Lachance and Josiah: Strange. Impossible things seem to happen whenever they’re around, and nothing they say ever seems to make any sense. True to form, Freddy wants nothing to do with her new neighbors, but to her horror, Josiah turns up at her school the next day, and he’s in all her classes. Suddenly, all her efforts to stay under the radar are going out the window as Josiah seems bent on making a spectacle of himself in front of all the students and teachers while dragging a mortified Freddy along with him. Very soon, it becomes clear that Cuerva Lachance and Josiah are more than just a couple of your typical run-of-the-mill weirdos—they might not even be completely mortal. And for some reason, they seem way too interested in Freddy, Mel, and Roland.
Beyond this, it’s really hard to describe the story without giving away some serious spoilers, so I’ll just leave one more little tiny nugget of detail here: Weave A Circle Round involves time travel. And yet, it’s not really a time travel book—at least in not in any conventional sense. Although we get to travel through a time portal, visiting such places and time periods such as Prehistoric China or Medieval Sweden, at its heart this book is a coming-of-age tale about growing up, accepting yourself, becoming a better person. As such, it wasn’t too surprising to find a lot of YA themes.
That said, my main issue with Weave A Circle Round was the overall juvenile tone of the story, specifically the adolescent voice of the protagonist making this book feel more Middle Grade than Young Adult. By itself, this wouldn’t have been an insurmountable problem, as I actually quite enjoyed the mystery of the earlier chapters. Unfortunately, the childishness combined with the hot mess that was the time traveling sections eventually crushed my interest in the book’s second half. Moreover, the dialogue and antics of Cuerva Lachance and Josiah were so absurd that the characters came across more idiotic than endearing, making them both extremely unlikeable.
Granted, I don’t always do well with “weird” books, and this one really tested my limits in that regard. There was just too much going on, with all these topics ranging from classic English poetry to Norse mythology simply thrown together without much coherence. The book’s themes of chaos vs. order also meant that the plot itself involved a fair bit of confusion, and at times I found it sluggish and hard to follow.
All told, while Weave A Circle Round had a few high points, ultimately it failed to draw me in. I struggled to connect with the story or any of the characters, who either felt way too young or way too weird. Quite honestly, this was just not a book for me, but if you enjoy bizarre or uncanny stories with a lot of imagination and quirk, then you might want to take a look, and hopefully you’ll enjoy it more than I did.