A Swiftly Tilting Planet
by Madeleine L'Engle
Several years have passed since the events chronicled in A Wind in the Door
. Meg Murry is now Mrs. Calvin O'Keefe, and the twins (Sandy and Dennys) are now in law school and medical school, respectively. Child-prodigy Charles Wallace is now 15, though he is small for his age and looks about 12. They all come together for the Thanksgiving holiday, while Calvin is overseas and Meg is seriously pregnant. Joining the Murrys is Calvin's loveless, unlovely, and seemingly unlovable mother, Mrs. O'Keefe. Nevertheless things are going well until Mr. Murry gets a phone call from the White House. A madman is threatening to press the nuclear button and wipe out the world. Unless a miracle happens, mankind has 24 hours to settle affairs.
Of all people to make that miracle happen, it just has to be the toothless old biddy, Mrs. O'Keefe. She recites a mysterious rune, almost forgotten since her childhood, and commissions Charles Wallace to straighten things out. With the aid of a unicorn named Gaudior, a yellow dog named Ananda, and his sister Meg (who stays in touch through a rare form of communication called kything), Charles flies back in time and goes Within one person after another, looking for the "Might-Have-Been" that can set history on the right track again.
It won't be easy, with the Echthroi (spirits of darkness) opposing him at every turn, and the lives he enters falling more and more deeply under their shadow. From an ancient legend come to life, to a Salem witch trial...from a depression-era Family Tragedy to the Civil-War-era travails of a crippled novelist...Charles Wallace and Gaudior follow the trail of the Might-Have-Been on which the future of the world, if not the universe, hangs in balance. Along the way the power of St. Patrick's Rune unfolds, a prophetic song goes through many mutations, and we even catch a glimpse of a unicorn hatchery (!!!).
This is a marvelous book--my favorite out of the Time Quartet, in fact. It's thought-provoking and emotionally intense, and it will grab you right to the very last paragraph. If the tales of the Murry family had ended here, in my opinion, they would have been perfect.
Recommended Age: 12+
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