The Broken Circle by Cheryl Potter
Yarns of the Knitting Witches
Potluck Yarn Trilogy, Book 1
June 3, 2013
Potter Press; 361 Pages (pbk)
The Broken Circle Knitting Patterns Inspired by Book One
December 19, 2012
Potter Press; 64 Pages (pbk)
Book 1 Student Workbook
Available on line as a free download
The Broken Circle is the first book in the Potluck Yarn trilogy by Cheryl Potter. Combining fantasy with fiber, Potter spins a tale redolent with magic and layered with themes of friendship, loyalty, good vs. evil, the value of natural resources, the meaning and texture of courage, and even mortality.
Follow the twelve knitting witches through adventures fraught with mayhem and mischief and knit your way through 21 patters as the Potluck witches seek to save their world. Twenty years have passed since the fire beneath the great dyepot was lit and the circle was complete. Now, the folk of the Middlelands face a danger worse than any can remember. Darkness and chaos threaten to destroy the delicate balance of the natural world, and the magic of the dye crystals that have always been a way of life and a great source of power for the people has been outlawed. Readers age 11 and up will find themselves engrossed by this fanciful cross-over tale of magic and mayhem. (from Amazon)
I was thrilled when I received a copy of the novel and companion book of patterns to review on my blog. While fantasy isn't my primary genera, how could I pass up the chance to experience my two favorite activities at the same time? When I opened the package it was clear they had done a terrific job publishing these books. The cover art and drawings that begin each chapter help set the tone, and the photography in the pattern book beautifully embraces the knitting witch theme.
I love the premise of the story: once upon a time there were 12 knitting witches who together dyed, spun and knit embracing the magic in them and the crystals the land provided. The circle was broken when one of the 12 sought to harness the power herself, and what was once good and true turned dark and evil. Twenty years have passed and the world has fallen to ruin. The witches have gone their separate ways. Magic has been outlawed, there is fighting and destruction and food and water are scarce. It is up to the Potluck Queen to gather the witches together once more if there is to be any hope of restoring balance and order to the Middlelands.
Sounds good doesn't it? Unfortunately, I struggled - with the way the story was told, the way that the knitting terms were used (for example: yarns being stories and simmers are a gathering together), and the way that the characters were introduced. At first I thought that it might be because I'm not used to stories that are about places and things that don't exist in my world. I have a good imagination and I've never had difficulty with my reading comprehension, yet this one was hard for me.
I stuck with it and the more that I got into the story the easier that it was for me to piece things together, but this is supposed to be a young adult book! If I had such a hard time, and had to work to make sense of things what will it be like for an 11 year old? I think a glossary would help to understand how the author is using certain worlds and to assist with the vocabulary in general. The dialect seems to be a combination of old English, knitting/fiber references and words unique the people of the Middlelands.
The book moves along slowly. We are introduced to each of the witches, along with several other characters as they are making their way back Potluck Yarns. I had a hard time keeping track of who was who and how their individual stories impacted the group. I felt like there was a lot of detail that didn't benefit the story. I was also surprised by how little magic there was. I know that it was outlawed, but I would like to think that somehow at least a few would have managed to be true to their born talents. I suppose that I was hoping more would happen in this first book . For me the books best moments take place in the last few chapters. It's during these pages that I could sense the true potential that the story holds.
As a knitter / crocheter I did enjoy the fiber references. At times they seem a bit overwhelming and while the descriptions work in the pattern book they don't always enhance the story. I think young adults and non-knitters won't really get how intense we fiber lovers are about our craft!
For all the challenges that the book presented, I'm curious to see what happens next. According to the Potluck Yarn website the author is still working on book two. I hope that my review is not looked upon as negative, but as observations and suggestions that may be used to make the next installments more appropriate for young readers and non-knitters.
The pattern book is sold separately and is a lovely presentation. It is here that the detailed descriptions fit best bringing the items to life and helping to create images of the characters who wear or use them. While I haven't made anything from this collection it seems that the patterns are well done. As beautiful as all of the projects are I think that they will appeal more to the competent adult knitters. None of the young adults who visit our library wear shawls - even though I think they're indispensable! If the idea is to inspire the kids who read the book to pick up needles for the first time, then perhaps easier more youthful patterns are in order.
The reading guide is available as a downloadable file. I actually didn't look at it until I had finished the book. Maybe if I had it with me from the start the book would have been easier for me! The guide itself is very well done and really helps you understand the story the way the author intended. Here's the thing though... what tween or teen is going to work through a reading guide unless it is a school assignment? It's hard enough to get kids to read for fun. If the series is recreational reading than it shouldn't need a guide. If the idea is for this to be used as reading curriculum (for homeschoolers maybe?) than the guide is perfect.
I feel a bit disappointed because I really wanted to love this book. I think the remainder of the story and the pattern books still have tremendous potential. It's always hard to post a review that doesn't have glowing things to say. Especially when it's clear that so much effort has been put in to the entire project. I know how much work goes into writing a blog or putting together just one pattern - it boggles my mind when I consider what it takes to write a novel! My hat is off to the author and her team. Writing is hard work and I respect their effort. Since the next installment is still a work in progress I have high hopes for the future of the knitting witches!
Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing part of your day with me. One of the great things about books is we all respond to them differently. Everyone has an opinion and there is no right or wrong. I'd love to hear what you thought of this book, and invite you to share your views in the comment section.
Wishing you all the happiness words can bring!
read more Book Reviews;
go to the Athol Public Library; or
visit Crochet Nirvana!
Thanks so much for stopping by and spending a bit of your day with me!
APL Book Club
This Month's Title
My Latest Reads
What did you think of this book? Is there a title you think I should read, or something you'd like me to review?
Go ahead and let me know, I'd love to hear from you!
Come Back Soon!
I publish reviews often. Sign up for my RSS Feed below to make sure you don't miss a thing!
Just So You Know
All of the opinions expressed here are my own and in no way represent the positions, opinions, feelings, views, or beliefs of the Athol Public Library.
I am not paid to write my reviews. Any mistakes or misrepresentations are my own and are not the responsibility of the library, publisher or anyone else.