Weave A Circle Round is a time travel story full of family drama and a whole lot of confusion for a debut novel, and that’s after finishing the book.
I received a finished copy of Weave a Circle Round by Kari Maaren from the publisher, Tor Books, in exchange for an honest review. I think the best term to describe Kari Maaren’s debut written novel would be “chaotic.”
The story opens on our main character Freddy fleeing to the woods because her parents are fighting and she can’t handle being in the house any more. There, she meets a very confusing woman who informs her that crying is very useless and gives her a method to keep herself from crying — a key. The woman tells her that in order to keep herself from crying, Freddy should take that key and search for its lock.
Flash forward to the beginning of ninth grade, and Freddy’s mother has remarried, bringing an older (?), Deaf step-brother, Roland, into the house who gets along much better with their younger sister Mel than with Freddy. New neighbors Cuerva Lachance and Josiah enter their lives with a literal crash, and turn Freddy’s life completely upside down in a matter of days with school trouble a time traveling disaster, and a whole lot of other shenanigans. You can read a full summary on Goodreads.
I had a few issues with the novel on a basic level — the inclusion and representation of Deafness. Freddy attends a school for the Deaf, but calls sign language stupid and says that she isn’t going to use it within a few sentences of telling us that her step-brother is Deaf. When Josiah shows up, he doesn’t have any sort of hearing issues. Yet, he immediately starts also attending the School for the Deaf which struck me as very weird.
Freddy’s horrible manners don’t get called out until about a third of the way through the book. That’s when she tells Roland that she wishes he were blind and deaf. Charming, right?
And then suddenly they’re in pre-Viking Sweden. And then China. Then colonial Mexico. And then there are mentions of a Sumerian temple and the Stone Age. Josiah still isn’t telling Freddy anything about why they’re traveling in time. He also won’t tell her anything about who he and Cuerva Lachance actually are, or what they’re searching for.
What I gathered while I read was that Freddy was supposed to meet all the other “Threes” in other time periods. Except that Cuerva Lachance and Josiah aren’t sure she is actually Three, the third person in their space-time continuum-defying trio. They only know that it’s one of the siblings.
Confused yet? That’s about how I feel, and I finished the book. Maaren could have tied up a few of its loose ends a whole lot better than this. I also would have cut about 50 pages out easily. I wouldn’t recommend it unless you actually enjoy being confused until the last five pages of a book.