Middle Grade Reviews

Review: A Tangle Of Magic by Valija Zinck


Review – A Tangle Of Magic by Valija Zinck


This was all going very wrong. She didn’t want to be light, she wanted to be strong … but … her feet! Her feet, in their blue sandals … they were floating in the air! 

(A Tangle Of Magic by Valija Zinck. P60.) 



Penelope has always been different. How many other ten-year-olds have totally grey hair? Then there is the fire smell which seems to hang around her. When Penelope’s mother has an accident and stays in hospital for a few weeks, Penelope discovers a secret. Her hair isn’t really grey at all. The grey is just dye. Penelope’s hair is bright, flaming red.

Then Penelope starts hearing voices from the earth around her and floating in the air.

What are these strange powers and do they have something to do with her father – the one who disappeared years ago? Penelope sets off in search of her father and learns about herself along the way.



A gentle fantasy about magic and inheritance. Think flaming hair and talking roads and the discovery of magical powers.

This reminds me of slightly older books like Carbonel by Barbara Sleigh. The story is as much about the journey as it is about the outcome and Penelope’s adventures take place in her local area. Penelope’s magic brings the setting to life – she hears the road talking to her and flies alongside flocks of birds. Each chapter shows Penelope having different adventures and mishaps with her magic as she gets to grips with it and learns about her father.

It was lovely to see Penelope’s friendships growing in this story. Penelope’s friends protect her and look out for her as she tests her magic. There wasn’t a specific storyline about Penelope’s friendships but her little group of friends is very much part of her landscape.

The thing I enjoyed most about this book was the atmosphere. It would be a lovely story for a 6 – 9-year-old because it captures that feeling of newly-found wonder and interest in everything which children experience at this age. When I worked in a bookshop several years ago, it was hardest to recommend books for this age-group. Books which bridged the gap between early chapter books and core middle-grade. It is lovely to find a book which fits that description.

I also enjoyed the language – the sentences and paragraphs roll along and there is some beautiful descriptive writing.

A gentle story which would be well-suited to newly confident readers. 



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s