Tangled in Time: the Portal, by Kathryn Lasky, for Timeslip Tuesday

Tangled in Time: the Portal, by Kathryn Lasky (HarperCollins, March 2019), is the story of a girl, Rose, who finds herself traveling back to 16th-century England to serve Princess Elizabeth.  She doesn't stay long, but makes repeated visits that she can't control.  In her own time, she lives with her grandmother, who is suffering from dementia, after her mother was killed in a firey car accident.  Though she's made new friends, there are also horrible over the top mean girl bullies in her new school.  In the past, she manages to be mouthy and 21st century-ish and not be accused of treason or witchcraft, or make a fool of herself.  Also in the past, she finds both a good friend, and her father, who she had thought abandoned her and her mother long ago.  And then there's a bit of a set-up twist for further books....

I just didn't care for this, either as time-travel or as larger whole.  The time travel was what I think of as the sight-seeing kind--even though she's looking for her father, she's not emotionally part of the past as a larger whole. And though there is some magic at work that helps soften her foreignness, she never forgets who she really is and doesn't particularly grow emotionally from being in the past.

Also I found reading about her wandering around anachronistically in Tudor times to be incredibly jarring; the author seems to have made a conscious decision not even to try to make her conform to any semblance of cultural or linguist norms.  I don't mind this in other books, but I think the ones where I don't mind it have a protagonist who is filled with anxiety and introspection about it.

As a larger whole I didn't care for the book much either--the past and present stories didn't seem connected, and the present story is overwhelmed by the truly over-the-top nastiness of the bullying girls.  It seemed like all the notes--the tragedy of Rose's mother, the precariousness of the grandmother's mental health, the bad girls, the new awesome friends, and even Rose's hobby of vintage couture (she has a wildly popular blog) are hit too hard and hurt my read ears.

There are two things, though, that did work for me:  the first is the grandmother's greenhouse, which is a marvelous place, and where the grandmother's mind becomes sharp enough that she can converse with Rose.  The second is that all the history seemed solid; the historical details of the Tudor court and its machinations were presented clearly and vividly.

Kirkus liked it more than I do, and I think young readers, especially those who find Tudor history romantic, will probably also like the book a lot better than me, being less picky about their time travel and more accepting of too-muchness.


  1. Thank you! I couldn't get into this one either, which surprised me since I usually love Lasky! Perhaps this was one of those novels that got tucked away in a file drawer and was not quite ready to see the light of day.

  2. I too enjoyed the greenhouse. Maybe I would have enjoyed this more if she did try to acclimate or as you indicated was more introspective about where she was.

  3. Thanks for the honest review. I won't need to spend my time on this one.


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