A Wind in the Door

Rating: 5 out of 5.
a wind in the door book cover
  • Madeleine L’Engle 1973, Farrar, Straus, & Giroux
  • Time Quintet #2

When a Madeleine L’Engle book opens with a proclamation of the presence of dragons, the experienced L’Engle fan knows there are definitely dragons.

Charles Wallace Murry announces the dragons in the very first sentence of this second book in the Time Quintet – and it’s the start of a wild ride.  I’ve written before that the first book, A Wrinkle in Time, is my favorite book ever – and it is, in terms of the author’s creation of mood and a world (worlds) I still visit frequently.  Wrinkle is otherwise well-crafted, but Wind beats Wrinkle hands-down in terms of dramatic tension; this book is a page-turner. It’s billed as young adult fantasy, but this not-so-young adult still loves the story.

Maybe the thoughtful character development in Wrinkle laid the groundwork for a riveting sequel;  a couple of minor, even unpleasant, characters in Wrinkle take center-stage in Wind,  revealing surprising gifts, and we meet some new beings as well.  All work together to save the life of a beloved little boy, and you won’t be able to put the book down until you know if that boy survives.

As with Wrinkle, I re-read this book often, and with every reading I feel that I’m in the presence of something magical that is just out of my grasp.   When you read Wind for the first time, after you’ve finished Wrinkle, you might start trying to figure out L’Engle’s timeline.  It won’t work.

Something to know about Madeleine L’Engle is that she (or her publisher, I suppose) sorted her young adult books into two categories. The books that follow chronological time are in the chronos category – there are a lot of them and they’re good. The books that are free of chronological time are kairos – and the entire Time Quintet is kairos. This is part of the magic.  So for the Murrys living in kairos time, maybe it’s best not to fit events into a chronos mold.  I encourage you to learn more about the two types of time in which L’Engle travels; she talks about this in her 1980 memoir / reflection Walking on Water.  ( Kairos aside, I like to imagine that the Murrys live in an alternate universe in which world events are similar to ours but might not happen in the same order or at the same time. There’s nothing in the book that would refute this.)

Also – there are no dragons.  In their place there is something much more wonderful and slightly cranky.  I’ll leave the rest up to you; if you enjoy intelligent fantasy within a framework of good vs evil,  you should read this book.  You won’t have trouble following the plot if you don’t read A Wrinkle in Time first, but you wouldn’t be as invested in the main characters.