Wednesday, April 10, 2019

MG Fantasy review of The Portal (Tangled in Time #1) by Kathryn Lasky

39087692The Portal (Tangled in Time) by Kathryn Lasky
Format:  Hardcover
Publisher:  Harper Collins
Number of Pages:  384
Published:  March 19th,  2019
Source:  Library

Opening Line:  "Rose Ashley stood in the middle of the circle as the three girls spun around her."  

Less than three weeks ago Rose Ashley's mother was killed in a car crash, resulting in her moving to Indianapolis to live with her grandmother, a woman she barely knows, and who has dementia.  Rose's grandmother is fairly well off and has a caretaker and driver who help manage her significant memory issues.  But when Grandmother Rosalinda is in her greenhouse tending to her plants and flowers, she seems to come to life and in these moments is able to recall her granddaughter, Rose.  

With the move, Rose will also be starting a new school. Rose is a very unique girl who has a style all her own, designing clothing from articles she adapts from her thrift store finds.  She also runs a popular fashion blog, Threads, but when news of her arrival begins to circulate at school, she draws the unwanted attention of a trio of mean girls who begin to bully her about the clothes she wears.  These mean girls are bent on embarrassing or causing her trouble.  Rose's only solace is spending time with her grandmother in her greenhouse.  

It's among the foliage that one day Rose finds herself being transported back in time to Hatfield, England during the sixteenth century, shortly after Princess Elizabeth was banished from court by her father King Henry VIII.  The mechanism by which Rose is transported back and forth in time doesn't appear to be under her control, she describes it as a "tumble" through time which at any moment she can be pulled back from.  Maybe it's meant to be similar to Lucy pushing her way through the coats in the wardrobe and ending up in Narnia.  Either way, she finds herself split between two time periods where time seems to stop in Indianapolis and moves forward in Hatfield where her intermittent disappearances go unnoticed.   I do wish the portal aspects of the story were better explained.  While in Hatfield, Rose takes a position as a chambermaid to the princess and meets Franny, a dairy worker who guides her in sixteenth-century customs.  Rose also happens to stumble upon a locket containing a photograph of her and her mother on one side, and a picture of a man dressed in clothing from the sixteenth century on the other.  Could this man be Rose's father?  

The Portal is the first book in Lasky's Tangled in Time series.  I quite enjoyed the setting of Hatfield during the sixteenth century.  There were nice tidbits of information from the time period, like how people might have brushed their teeth with twigs of bayberry and juniper.   Lasky also incorporated photo's of time period clothing and shoes as well as portions of Rose's blog posts, diary entries and letters she shares with Franny into the story.  Truthfully, if Rose spent the whole time in England, I would have enjoyed the story so much more.  It might have felt more magical.  Rose never completely immersed herself into the time period.  She straddled between the two, bringing the twenty-first century with her in her expressions and mannerisms.  There also appeared to be many inconsistencies that stuck out to me, like how everyone in Hatfield took Rose so literally at her words and that they don't really question her use of common twenty-first-century phrases as being odd, they just seem to gloss over them.  Even Rose's actions aren't consistent, one minute Rose is reprimanding Elizabeth for her demeaning remarks to a chambermaid and then herself refers to Princess Mary as "snailhead."  Then there was the trio of means girls, who just seemed unnecessarily mean.  Perhaps if the message was consistently made that all forms of bullying are wrong it would have worked better for me.  

Lastly, I found that I wanted to know more about Rose's grandmother.  She seemed like such a sweet elderly lady.  But why would she be put in charge of Rose's care?  Despite having the financial means, is this really the best option?  Most of the time she needed to be reminded who Rose was, unless she was in the greenhouse and then she excelled at recalling everything about caring for her plants and flowers.  I probably spent way to much time thinking about what Rose's future would be like and so I don't think I was as vested as I could have been in figuring out who Rose's father was.  Or maybe it was that everything seemed to come together rather quickly.  The story ends with an epilogue that hints to the direction that future time travels will take Rose and am curious enough that I will keep an eye out for the next book in the series.  

Favorite line:  "So much of life is yielding to the extraordinary."


  1. I like time travel books but am not sure about this one after reading your review. And I'm not so into fashion. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this one.

    1. I also really like time travel stories, I did enjoy the pieces in England, and will probably read the next one.

  2. I love this cover, but my interest waned as I read this review. Not my type of story. But glad you enjoyed it!

    1. The cover is what drew me into the story as well. I just wished that the story was centered in England and I'm tiring of bullying in books.

  3. The cover is amazing and made me want to pick this book up right away. I am curious about the time travel aspect. Thanks for sharing. :)