I reached the end of The Broken Circle today. It is Book One of the Potluck Yarn Trilogy by Cheryl Potter. I’ve been reading it for awhile now, which is unlike me in two ways. Normally, I wait until all of the books in a series are at hand, and read them all at once. Not fond of cliffhangers, here, and series always have them. Also, once I get going I usually finish a book really fast. Again, not fond of not knowing the ending and I don’t like to stop in the middle. But I couldn’t put off reading this book because I got to hear bits of it read aloud while she was writing it, and I was hooked. And once I started, I was held up because 1) I don’t have a life outside of work and the Book that I am writing, and 2) I didn’t want to get to the inevitable cliffhanger and not be able to start Book Two.
Everyone knows that trilogies have a set formula. Book One sets up the world, its rules, and the characters. This can take a long time if the world is complex, and it usually is or what is the point? In Book One, the Conflict is made clear, and there is usually some type of journey. Book One is where the action is, and there is lots of peril involving the characters. The good guys and bad guys don’t often directly engage until Book Three, where the Conflict is resolved.
The Broken Circle does a good job of setting up the more than a dozen major characters, and the history and customs of the world. The characters are mostly seen separately, and don’t meet up until the very end. I wasn’t very happy when I was deeply involved in a character and their circumstance, and then they disappeared for a few chapters. Fortunately, the characters are all very memorable and different, with compelling stories, so I fell into the author’s rhythm fairly quickly. There are lots of twists and turns in the plot, and I don’t want to spoil any surprises, so I am not even going to tell you the characters names, which are very descriptive and definitely part of the story. There is so much detail in this book it is astounding, and every little thing has meaning.
It helps to understand the vernacular if you are a fiber artist and have some understanding of dyeing, knitting, and fiber types. If you don’t, the text won’t be quite as layered, and you will miss some of the jokes, but it still works as the language of the world.
I generally see things coming, but the ending caught me totally by surprise, because Ms. Potter doesn’t subscribe to the Trilogy rules, apparently. The set-up is so careful that the last chapter really packs a punch. I can’t wait for Book Two, and can only speculate that it has more action in it. Not sure my rule book applies to the Potluck Yarn Trilogy.
The Broken Circle is being marketed for the Young Adult audience, and I can understand why. The Harry Potter series was wildly popular, and kids obviously buy books. But I don’t see why a well-written book can’t be for all ages. This isn’t a book just for kids, or knitters, or fantasy readers. This is a really good story, which requires a bit of patience and thought to appreciate. I would recommend this book to anybody, and if it gets them interested in the meaning and magic of fiber and dyeing, so much the better. Dyeing seems like a perfectly reasonable thing for a witch to do with a cauldron, and it is definitely a type of magic. That is the type of connection that the author plays with in the text, making the Fantastic seem completely believable. Now that I have finished The Broken Circle I eagerly await Book Two!