Weave a Circle Round

Weave a Circle Round

Madeleine L'Engle meets Stranger Things in this debut YA-friendly fantasy adventure about how the unexpected can move in next door 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 i...

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Title:Weave a Circle Round
Author:Kari Maaren
Rating:

Weave a Circle Round Reviews

  • C.J. Stark ☮️

    Check out this review on my blog -

    5.373339 stars

    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.

    Our protagonist is Freddy Duch

    Check out this review on my blog -

    5.373339 stars

    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.

    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.

    Do not be fooled - this novel is not a gentle walk in the park.

    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.

    There were several moments through this when I thought,

    Then I would go back and reread the last page or so, and think

    I think the whole mantra to have when reading this is

    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.

    As regular readers of my reviews will know, I enjoy a story with diverse characters.

    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 read through.

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

    Be my friend and chat with me on the

  • Alicia

    Maaren's debut novel reads like a modern Diana Wynne Jones story to me, which is one of th highest compliments I can give. It centers on a fourteen year old girl in Canada who just wants to pass through life—and high school—unnoticed, which is complicated when a pair of eccentric strangers move next door and become entangled with her sister, their stepbrother, and herself. The story touches on English poetry and mythology from around the world, had great c

    Maaren's debut novel reads like a modern Diana Wynne Jones story to me, which is one of th highest compliments I can give. It centers on a fourteen year old girl in Canada who just wants to pass through life—and high school—unnoticed, which is complicated when a pair of eccentric strangers move next door and become entangled with her sister, their stepbrother, and herself. The story touches on English poetry and mythology from around the world, had great characters and great adventures, and I pretty much loved it. A/A-.

    __

    A review copy was provided by the publisher. This book will be released on Tuesday.

  • Cherry (_forevermint)

    AMAZING. I loved the time travel and the characters and the growth, ugh everything was just so enjoyable that I finished this in a day. Just thinking about it again makes me want to reread my favorite parts xD

  • Justine

    4.5 stars

    Wow, this was a really excellent and engaging book. It went so many unexpected places, and was very satisfying to read. Themes of family and self identity are nicely woven into a mystery adventure tale in the speculative fiction genre. The writing flows nicely, complimented by humorous dialogue and multi-dimensional characters. The kids are very much kids, and all the more interesting for it.

    There was a lot about this book that reminded me of

    by

    and a

    4.5 stars

    Wow, this was a really excellent and engaging book. It went so many unexpected places, and was very satisfying to read. Themes of family and self identity are nicely woven into a mystery adventure tale in the speculative fiction genre. The writing flows nicely, complimented by humorous dialogue and multi-dimensional characters. The kids are very much kids, and all the more interesting for it.

    There was a lot about this book that reminded me of

    by

    and also

    by

    , so if you liked either of those you should definitely check out Weave a Circle Round. This would be a great book for middle grade readers as well as older kids and adults who enjoy YA. A lovely and impressive debut novel that was worth the time it took to come to publication.

  • Mogsy (MMOGC)

    2.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

    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

    2.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

    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.

  • Austine (NovelKnight)

    I'm really struggling this year with books that sound great but just don't cut it in the execution. In the case of 

    , it wasn't so much that the author created a predictable story which seems to be what keeps happening. Rather, this book was all over the place and yet bored me to read.

    I attribute it to the characters. I wouldn't say that I 

    the characters, exactly, but I wasn't a fan either. I just never connected with any of them which makes it hard for me to really e

    I'm really struggling this year with books that sound great but just don't cut it in the execution. In the case of 

    , it wasn't so much that the author created a predictable story which seems to be what keeps happening. Rather, this book was all over the place and yet bored me to read.

    I attribute it to the characters. I wouldn't say that I 

    the characters, exactly, but I wasn't a fan either. I just never connected with any of them which makes it hard for me to really enjoy a story. I'm all about the characters and even the most compelling world and plot can't make up for a bland cast.

    It's honestly quite difficult to talk about this book while avoiding spoilers as the plot is all over the place and didn't really make sense half the time. The story bounces around too much for my tastes. I also just wasn't satisfied with the ending (or lack thereof). Nothing feels like it's truly ended in the closure way, no satisfaction that the story is over and there's no more to be told. They weren't the sort of cliffhangers that made for a good sequel lead-in, they just left off.

    I'd call this a spin on a children's book because, at times, it felt like I was reading MG or YA but at others it was much more adult. It had the feel of an "older" tale such as 

    or 

    which is all well and good, and if you're interested in that kind of read then I definitely think you'd like this but for me, it was a pass.

  • MB (What she read)

    Sounds intriguing:

    After reading:

    I don't know about you, but I like my time-travel reading to contain lots of interesting historical details, along with anthropological, cultural, and sociological details and speculations about what life was actually like for our ancestors. (Like Gabaldon, Turtledove, Jodi Taylor, L'engle, Suzanne Frank, etc.)

    While I enjoyed the first part of this book (the set up), once the time traveling actually began, I was pretty mu

    Sounds intriguing:

    After reading:

    I don't know about you, but I like my time-travel reading to contain lots of interesting historical details, along with anthropological, cultural, and sociological details and speculations about what life was actually like for our ancestors. (Like Gabaldon, Turtledove, Jodi Taylor, L'engle, Suzanne Frank, etc.)

    While I enjoyed the first part of this book (the set up), once the time traveling actually began, I was pretty much bored stiff. In this book, time travel is only a plot device and the over a year of hopping around in time is just left almost entirely undescribed and vaguely hinted at. The big ending left me pretty much unexcited, so I was left with a pretty meh reading reaction.

    First part of book, 4 stars. Last part, 2.

    I'm interested in other readers opinions, as I feel guiltily like I'm being hard on a first-published author, for what for me was a book I was really excited about initially. Feel free to comment. I'd like to know what others think.

    I want to send this book back for revision, because I think it has the potential to be spectacular if it could just figure out what it wants to be when it grows up! Either dump the time travel entirely or flesh it out into something worthwhile, clean up all those loose ends and red herrings that don't go anywhere, and, please, for goodness sake, do something (flesh them out enough) to make us care more about these characters and the consequences of their supposedly epic choices!

    Entirely unsolicited reader advisory: If you'd like more of this kind of thing, you should look into the authors mentioned earlier. But for YA readers, please get your hands on some Diana Wynne-Jones! Try Eight Days of Luke or The Homeward Bounders, if you want something somewhat like this.

  • Claire (bookscoffeeandrepeat)

    This book was a chaotic mess.

    I don't even know where to start. I guess, the problem is that I'm not really interested in magical realism with a bit of science fiction combined into a fantasy type of story. Needless to say, I became confused and uninterested after a while. I enjoyed reading the story before reaching the 60% page mark. As I got closer to the end, I felt that the story just dragged on and on. It was almost pointless because I don't think I'm learning anything new about the characte

    This book was a chaotic mess.

    I don't even know where to start. I guess, the problem is that I'm not really interested in magical realism with a bit of science fiction combined into a fantasy type of story. Needless to say, I became confused and uninterested after a while. I enjoyed reading the story before reaching the 60% page mark. As I got closer to the end, I felt that the story just dragged on and on. It was almost pointless because I don't think I'm learning anything new about the characters nor the plot. I think the author was trying to explain an integral part of the story, but it wasn't executed in a way that I would've liked. Instead, it contributed to my confusion and I was bored. To even add to the mess, this book contains characters from Norse Mythology.

    There was very little (or in my case, ZERO) likable characters in the story. I don't dislike the protagonist but sometimes I don't like reading her POV. She was bullied a lot, her siblings don't care about her (except Mel, but there's something about her that irks me quite a bit), and her mother doesn't care about her. I mean, the parents are rarely at home! Mel irks me because she doesn't seem like a real person who has feelings. She's kind of like Sherlock, but Sherlock makes a lot more sense (as a character) to me than Mel. Then there's Roland, I don't really like him but I understand him more than Mel.

    I dislike how there is no conclusion to the story. In school, we don't know why Freddy is constantly being picked on and if it ever stopped. I don't understand where all the bullying comes from, why it's happening, and why it wasn't addressed. I also don't know what happens to the Norse mythology characters.

    Oh, and can I mention the parents again? They only care about their noise making neighbor but they never enquired about their children's affairs? This book is so weird and it doesn't even make any sense. Note that I like weird books but this book wasn't for me.

    If you like the complexities of time travel and the fact that Norse deities are a part of it, then I would recommend this book. If this isn't your cup of tea, I suggest picking another one.

  • Mel (Epic Reading)

    DNF @ 41%

    I love complex, weird, interesting fantasy/sci-fi books. Want me to believe in aliens, time travel, fantasy worlds, etc no problem BUT, you must give me a construct in which your world stands on. I don't need every detail or a complete explanation; but I do need a bit of a frame for the type of story I'm getting into and where it might be headed.

    I hate DNFing a book; but when I cannot come up with a single reason to keep reading and am dreading the book I know it's time to give up.

    DNF @ 41%

    I love complex, weird, interesting fantasy/sci-fi books. Want me to believe in aliens, time travel, fantasy worlds, etc no problem BUT, you must give me a construct in which your world stands on. I don't need every detail or a complete explanation; but I do need a bit of a frame for the type of story I'm getting into and where it might be headed.

    I hate DNFing a book; but when I cannot come up with a single reason to keep reading and am dreading the book I know it's time to give up.

    Weave a Circle Round fails at a fundamental story requirement; setting up some sort of existence for our characters that gives something to build from. If you aren't going to give a setting that helps give a logic to the story then at least make your characters really interesting. Unfortunately the characters are just as flat and uninteresting as the non-existent plot.

    I can follow a book for sometime that is failing at plot if I like the character(s) enough. Unfortunately Kari Maaren has not created any character that I cared about or was even intrigued by; including the crazy neighbours. They were all very generic, boring or otherwise unmemorable. Even our two weird neighbours, that seem to be the catalysts for everything that happens, weren't enough to keep me interested.

    At 40%+ of a novel I expect to have an idea about why things are happening or at least what is happening. Instead Maaren takes our main gal and sets her up for bullying at school; then suddenly she ends up in a Viking timeline with one of the crazy neighbours. Say um... what?!?

    There is zero indication about why this has happened or what it even means. Meanwhile the boy/crazy neighbour is clearly a time traveler with some sort of psychic power and yet still nothing fits into anything. For me it felt like each piece of the puzzle was from a different puzzle entirely that would never fit together. And frankly even if they do by the end I just didn't care about our people, the time travel or even what made the neighbours so odd.

    It's okay to take me on a wild fantasy ride but give me characters I can care about and some sort of pieces that appear to go together.

    I believe this book needs some serious review by beta readers to work on capturing the attention of the reader and giving nuggets of information that might fit together or at least intrigue the reader into continuing to read.

    It also needs some character help to make at least our main gal more relatable if not actually likeable.

    It surprises me that TOR published this. They are usually a solid publishing house. Somehow this one slipped through the cracks and got published. They might do well to pull it back and try again.

    For this and more of my reviews please visit my blog at:

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