Skip to main content

A Tangle of Knots

Review

A Tangle of Knots

Fifty-three years before our story truly begins to unfold, a young man named Mason Burgess waits for a bus, musing about his life's Fate, which surely lies in the North, and watching a young girl who has a Talent for playing jacks. He is a little startled when a very large man appears and begins complimenting him on his suitcase, which is an old but sturdy,  blue suitcase with the silver brand spelling out St. Anthony's. Inside that well-loved suitcase is this young man's fortune: a piece of paper that means everything in the world to him. The older man's attention makes the suitcase owner a wee bit nervous, but he tells himself that the stranger is just making conversation. Mason obliges him by chit-chatting and learns that the other man is a traveling salesman; he displays a variety of knots that hang from the inside of his suit jacket. The salesman admits to a Talent for knot-tying. As Mason prepares to board his bus, the stranger tells him to keep an eye on his suitcase...which somehow manages to vanish (along with the valuable slip of paper) during Mason's bus ride.

"Early in the book, a mysterious stranger speaks of knots, saying that if you don't know the trick, a knot appears to be a mess but that every twist is placed just so, connecting with others --- quite the apt description of this wonderful tale with its many different interweaving parts."

Mason's story is just one intriguing piece of the puzzle, which fits together with those of other characters to form the final complete tale. Fifty-three years after young Mason loses his suitcase, we pick up Cady's story. She lives at Miss Mallory's Home for Lost Girls, which most people would call an orphanage. However, Miss Mallory's Talent is for matching up orphans with families, a trick that she employs so speedily that there is almost always just one orphan living in the Home --- 11-year-old Cady. Cady's Talent is much appreciated by those around her: She can bake the perfect cake for just anyone. (In fact, many of Cady's recipes are included in the book, and they are truly drool-worthy!)  It's very odd, but Cady is the one child that Miss Mallory has been unable to place successfully. She has returned from six possible homes, but she hasn't lost hope.

Not too far away, the Owner of the Lost Luggage Emporium places a "rooms for rent" sign on his door. He isn't enthused about becoming a landlord, but he needs the money. The Owner's Talent is hovering two inches off the floor, but he has a trick up his sleeve for acquiring other Talents.

When the Emporium's upstairs bedrooms eventually fill up, it shelters people who combine their stories, weaving together an intriguing mystery...and, finally, an extremely satisfying conclusion. We meet young Marigold Asher, who is searching diligently for her own Talent. Marigold's younger brother, Will, (and his sidekick ferret, Sally) has a yen for adventure and a Talent for disappearing. Her older brother, Zane, has a Talent for spitting, which will force the family to leave their apartment to lodge at the Owner's Emporium. We also meet the mysterious older woman whom everyone calls "V" because, although she has had a stroke and can't speak, she wears a locket around her neck inscribed with a V. Dolores, Marigold's mother, always wears a most unusual hairpin. Her Talent is knitting. When she delivers knitted blankets to the hospital, she meets V. And Toby is another character whose Fate will inevitably intersect with the other inhabitants of the Emporium.

Author Lisa Graff pens a delightful story that is sure to appeal to fans of mysteries, fantasies and family stories. Early in the book, a mysterious stranger speaks of knots, saying that if you don't know the trick, a knot appears to be a mess but that every twist is placed just so, connecting with others --- quite the apt description of this wonderful tale with its many different interweaving parts.

Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on March 19, 2013

A Tangle of Knots
by Lisa Graff

  • Publication Date: February 11, 2014
  • Genres: Fantasy, Fiction
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin
  • ISBN-10: 0147510139
  • ISBN-13: 9780147510136