A Tangle of Knots

Book review by
Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media
A Tangle of Knots Book Poster Image
Intriguing tale of fate, connections, and recipes.

Parents say

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Kids say

age 9+
Based on 4 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The story is more entertainment than education, but may expand the experience of young readers, touching on subjects including archeological digs, cooking competitions, and the sudden changes a stroke brings to the life of one character.

Positive Messages

The story stresses the importance of family and loyalty, doing the right thing, and looking out for each other, and also that it's possible to rise above your past mistakes and do better.

Positive Role Models & Representations

With the exception of the talent-stealing villain, most of the adults are well-intentioned but often flawed, and their lapses (from making off with an ancient bone fragment to abandoning one's infant child) often affect their loved ones in ways they didn't foresee. In their different ways, Cady and Marigold are plucky and determined to make things go right.

Violence & Scariness

The way the creepy villain sneaks up on Talented people and sucks their talent into a jar may be scary for some kids -- though the comic effects when stolen talents find new hosts help balance this.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that A Tangle of Knots takes its title from both the extensive collection of knots belonging to one of the characters, and the way in which the often-hidden threads of the characters' lives converge and intertwine. In a magic-enhanced version of Poughkeepsie, NY, and its surroundings, material objects have a mind of their own in deciding what person to connect with, and people are divided into those with a Talent and those without. Meanwhile, a villain finds a way to steal Talents from those who have them. Thefts by two other characters (one recent, one long past) influence plot developments. Some of the dysfunctional family and neighbor relationships, from parent-child conflict to burglary, may unnerve kids who live in a more harmonious world.

User Reviews

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There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Kid, 8 years old April 7, 2018

5 star

I read this book a lot of times, and I really love it. There is not too much violence, only one curse word, and it teaches you to stand up to others and not be... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old December 8, 2017

An Intriguing and Heartwarming Tale That Keeps Readers Turning Pages

A very interesting book that will keep you intrigued. Great role models and recipes for different characters build new skills and positivity in what is sure to... Continue reading

What's the story?

In a world much like our own, only stranger, the course of your life depends heavily on whether you have a Talent. Eleven-year-old orphan Cady has a definite talent for baking; her friend Marigold, whose family becomes Cady's neighbors after their city apartment is demolished by a hot air balloon, struggles to find her own talent and to restrain her brother, a skilled thief, from exercising his. Like A TANGLE OF KNOTS, the connections between the girls and many apparently random characters emerge, flourish, and bring unexpected solutions.

Is it any good?

The convoluted puzzle that connects several generations of characters will delight some readers, and probably have them rereading for clues they've missed. Other readers may bog down and find too much complication for too little payoff. Some connections that bind the characters reveal themselves in a leisurely fashion, or not at all; author Graff frequently describes a character grinning "in a way that suggested that he knew more about the world than he was letting on," and this attitude infuses the narrative, often leaving young readers to figure out obliquely suggested details for themselves.

Still, many kids will relate to Cady's longing for a family and Marigold's efforts to keep her own family from running off the rails. Cady's talent is for making the perfect cake for each recipient, and A Tangle of Knots includes numerous recipes for baked goods, both sweet and savory, that are sure to appeal to budding chefs. 


Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why stories about kids who are great cooks are so popular. Do you think you might like to try some of the recipes here?

  • How do decisions in the adult characters' past affect their kids?

  • Do you find the revelation of how the characters are connected believable? Did you figure it out before the ending?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love Fantasy and humor

Themes & Topics

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