Have you ever read a book that took place in only one, small setting with allegorical characters, a symbolic storyline, and enough supernatural suspense to last you into your second lifetime? If so, you must have read The Tangle by Aria Maher. If you haven’t, that’s because you have not yet read The Tangle and should probably keep reading this post so that I can persuade you to actually do so.
River wakes up in a strange room in a strange house with strange people and a haunting, Angry Man who carries a shovel. There is no way to escape the house; there’s never enough time. All the children Uncle has were once normal people, but over time turned into mindless dolls. But with the help of an unlikely group including a doctor, a boy, and a shapeshifting cat, escape from the endless twists and turns and dead ends of shadows becomes a possibility.
Wow. I loved everything about this book. I’ve never read a paranormal book before, but this was a great introductory to the genre. At first, all I knew was that the main character, River, is in a waking nightmare in a house that is not her own. There’s nothing to go off of at first until she escapes from her room and discovers the rest of the house, the Angry Man, the mindless dolls that Uncle calls his own, and Sam, a boy in much the same situation as her own. Uncle claims to be the uncle of everyone there, but only the once-human robots believe him. River knows better.
Basically, the whole plot surrounds the escape attempts and the running away from the Angry Man with the shovel. The suspense kept me reading, and at first I wasn’t sure what the story meant. It was hard to understand where the story was going and what was happening and what the villain, Uncle, was trying to do. I tried to find symbolism and meaning that the author was, apparently, so mysteriously weaving into the tale. And then I realized that there might have been no intentional meaning behind the story at all, that the author wrote the story, probably knowing that her readers would each get something different out of it, seeing that our perspectives are each unique and different.
I began to relate to River in a metaphorical way; that’s when I realized that the whole story was a metaphor. Only after I finished the story did I realize that in my perspective, River was a portrayal of each one of us, trying to escape our own demons who whisper illogical fears and lies about ourselves. In a later scene, River finally encounters the Angry Man face to face and sees her own face when she looks at him. I took this as a representation of us identifying ourself as our own demon—like a resolution, if you will—of trying to run away from the voices in our head, and yet instead finding these voices to be coming from ourselves.
I also loved the writing style. It was simple, yet elegant, with a feel that helped me to really feel the horror. I also thought that the descriptions and metaphors were unique and done very well. The characters were all different and one-of-a-kind, particularly Flint. There wasn’t a whole lot to the worldbuilding, but again, there didn’t need to be. It all took place in a house with an Angry Man and an Uncle, and through the eyes of the innocent prisoners, we slowly begin to understand the situation and what exactly makes Uncle the antagonist.
To be honest, I sat for a while and tried to figure out what I didn’t like about it, which is saying something. If anything, there were one or two spelling errors, and who doesn’t have those? I was just really impressed. Since it was my first time reading a paranormal novel, I didn’t know what to expect, and whatever it was that I read, I loved it. It was unlike any other book I’ve read. I relished the weirdness, the authentic descriptions, the grisly darkness, and how real the characters were. But I think my favorite thing about this story was how the whole thing was a metaphor. The whole plot seemed to symbolize something. And even though it took me a while for that fact to click with me, I enjoyed each chapter and each scene. I believe that each one of us will take something different away after reading The Tangle, and here I’d like to congratulate Aria Maher on a beautiful job well done.
Psst. Now’s the time to check out The Tangle on Amazon and head over to Aria’s blog. Thanks for reading!