It was a dark and stormy night. I settled in for some much needed reading relaxation and pulled out a book I haven’t read in decades: Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. The last time I read this book was around thirty years ago, yet I remember the opening chapter vividly. The storm. Meg leaving her attic room to find her uncanny little brother Charles Wallace waiting for her in the kitchen, the warm milk he started for her just about the perfect temperature. Soon others who cannot sleep join in, including their mother, but not their father, who has been missing. Things turn very strange when their new neighbor shows up as well and, strangely, says “there is such a thing as a tesseract.” Meg’s mother nearly faints.
It’s a classic opening to a strange tale of space and time that stretched and still excites my imagination. The book went on to win the Newbery Medal and, well, it’s been a classic for over fifty years. L’Engle followed it up with three direct sequels: A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, and Many Waters. All four novels are now collected in a lovely volume from The Library of America.
But that is volume one of two! I didn’t know it until this release was announced, but L’Engle followed up the A Wrinkle in Time quartet of books with another quartet, following Meg’s daughter, Polly O’Keefe: In the Arm of the Starfish, Dragons in the Water, A House Like a Lotus, and An Acceptable Time. I’ve not read any of these, and some look like a very different kind of book (the blurb for Dragons in the Water make it look like more of a murder mystery in Venezuela), but I’m glad to see that a tesseract still plays a significant role in at least one of them!
Together, these eight novels are called The Kairos Novels, kairos being an ancient Greek word for a particularly significant moment in time, a turning point that spins history. They are available either separate or bundled together in this striking set that should definitely be on the shortlist for the holiday season.
As per usual, aside from the books, the volumes come with interesting supplemental material, such as L’Engle’s Newbery Award acceptance speech, a lecture she gave at the Library of Congress on daring to be creative, essays on time and science fiction, and more.
I have yet to partake fully, so this is far from a “review,” whatever that is, of these books. All I can really say is that this is one of my favorite releases of the year and I’m excited that tonight is going to be another dark and stormy night.