cover image Tanglewreck


Jeanette Winterson, . . Bloomsbury, $16.95 (414pp) ISBN 978-1-58234-919-0

In her first book for young adults, Winterson (Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit ) delivers a romp through space and time with an intrepid 11-year-old heroine, Silver Rivers. The story opens with "the first of the Time Tornadoes," which merges a contemporary school bus and a pharaoh's chariots on the River Thames. It then moves to the 16th-century rambling house that had been Silver's family home before her parents and sister disappeared four years ago. Now Silver lives there with her greedy "aunt" who is helping an ageless and sinister alchemist, Abel Darkwater, find the lost Timekeeper. A prophecy states that this clock, to be found by the Child with the Golden Face, controls the most precious commodity of all—time. Silver discovers she is that Child, with the help of the underground people called "Throwbacks," who help her travel across the universe and back. Winterson playfully peppers this journey with references to John Harrison, the Einstein Line, Schrödinger's cat, quantum physics, Black Holes and Egyptian deities. In Silver's quest to fulfill the prophecy, she teams up with her special Throwback friend, Gabriel, to take on Darkwater and his nemesis Regalia Mason, leader of a powerful corporation for centuries into the past and future. While the text may be somewhat fragmented and overworked in places, the sheer exhilaration of the adventure and the many fascinating historical and scientific allusions will keep readers engrossed through to the satisfying conclusion. Ages 8-12. (Aug.)