It was supposed to be River's eleventh birthday. It turns out to be nothing but a nightmare.
When River finds herself imprisoned in a strange house, belonging to a mysterious man called Uncle, she only knows one thing: She must escape. But every power in the house, it seems, is bent on keeping her within its twisted walls. The creatures that patrol the halls may be deadly, and River may have nothing but her wit and her will, but, with the help of several unlikely allies, she just might be able to make her way out of the house before she becomes nothing more than a mindless prisoner.
Recently (as in, like a month ago—yeah, I’m behind on my reviews), I read the book The Tangle by Aria E. Maher, and I can’t say enough about this book.
So, a quick recap on what it’s about.
The Tangle is a young adult novel. I personally would classify it as a horror.
So, from the back cover (yes, I actually read the back cover before I read the book—shocker!) we learn that the character, River, is going to be kidnapped and imprisoned in a home belonging to an odd man named Uncle. River is set on escaping, however, there are mysterious creatures that roam the halls and other factors that make escape impossible.
The book definitely lives up to the description. This is one of those times when I was actually happy that I read the description first, so that I knew a little bit of what to expect. If you know me, you know that I don’t usually read the descriptions of books before I buy them or before I read them. Partly it’s because I’m afraid that I’m going to get too much information and it’s going to spoil the book, and partly because I like to be surprised. However, the description of The Tangle definitely gave me a foundation of what to expect without giving away too much.
So, when this book began I was a little like “What is going on? This is super creepy.” Like I said, River is imprisoned and is trying to escape. And I, obviously, am rooting for her every step of the way and also shaking in my boots because, not only does she face failed attempts, but also because of the odd ways that her attempts fail.
The creatures mentioned in the description of the book are not explicitly explained. Well, their forms are, but not WHAT they are. This lends an unnerving suspense to the book, because you don’t know what’s out there, what’s waiting, what’s chasing River.
I’m not going to lie, for a fair portion of the story I was worried that I would never know what truly happened. I was concerned that what/who the creatures were would not be explained. But they are, and at just the right moment when things have been building up.
There were some things about the book that I found unrealistic while I read it. However, like I said, they are eventually explained and then it makes sense why they seem unrealistic. For instance, how such young kids can do seemingly impossible things—like survive falling from a very high roof, or the amount of blows to the head they survive in just a short period of time.
Overall, I think this was a good book. I think it makes for a good suspense and horror. It is a young adult novel, so it is a quick and easy read. It comes in at just over 160 pages, and those pages are packed with action. And it’s just one of those books that you can’t put down. I read this in just a few short hours—I had to take a break in there because I was attacked by a bird while reading a particularly frightening scene and I needed a moment to collect myself. But yeah, I devoured this book. Like I said, there is just so much action packed into such a small book that you just have to know what happens next.
So, the book starts out told from the 3rd person perspective of River, and it continues that way for a while, until it adds Sam, another hostage with the desire to escape, which adds a ton of dimension to the story. Between River and Sam’s perspectives we get a really rounded out view of what is happening in the house—a newbie’s perspective versus a veteran’s. However, towards the end we also get into the mind’s of Reginald—the doctor—and Uncle, and even a handful of other characters briefly. Now, I don’t usually like books that go back and forth between so many POVs. I love two. Three can work. But I’ve never read a book that switches between so many POVs successfully. Maher definitely did make it work. I think part of what made it successful was that the switches in POV were obvious—each marked with a new section spacer. Also, she used the POVs to develop the story, making them necessary. Had we only received River’s, or River and Sam’s, accounts of what was going on in the house, we would have lost a lot.
Something else I liked about the book is the mind games it plays on you. This we get from switching back and forth between the POVs. This book started to make me question reality practically. I had about ten conspiracies running through my head about what was really going on. Let me tell you now, none of my guesses were correct.
I’d say the characters are not really developed in the traditional sense—we do not learn their background, who they were before they were imprisoned. But we do learn of who they are within their imprisonment. We learn their personalities and they stick to them. The characters each act within the parameters of what I had learned to expect from them. I think that’s pretty amazing. You know, in 163 pages I didn’t learn about WHO these characters are in real life, but I learned exactly how they would act and I feel like I came to know them on an even more personal level. I don’t need to know what their childhood was like or what their favorite anything is. I got to know them by their actions. And I think that is how you really come to understand a person—or a character.
As far as my rating, I would give this book a 4 out of 5 stars. It’s definitely a book I would read again. It’s a book I would give to my teenage nieces to read, and a book I would encourage my friends and family to read. It’s just a good little book.
Why I’m not giving it 5 stars is merely because sometimes I felt the pace was a little fast—there was just constant movement it seemed like, despite multiple injuries in a short period of time which seems like should have slowed the characters down. That and I felt like the house’s layout wasn’t really described as well as I would have liked. I know that River is new to her “prison” and doesn’t know the layout, but Sam does and yet throughout the entire book I really didn’t get a feel for it. It just seemed like there was always a new staircase, a new hallway, a new secret passage. Also, there seemed to be a lot of empty spaces in the walls and floors which also seemed unrealistic.
Basically, I’d just like it to be a little bit longer to be able to include more of that. But I mean those are pretty minor in the grand scheme of things which is why I do think that this book is worthy of the 4 stars I’ve awarded it. The plot moves along, the characters are developed, it is suspenseful and satisfying. I really enjoyed it, and I think it is just a nice little story to get your heart pumping.
And it's on sale right now! The Kindle version is only $2.99!!!