Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Book Review: The Broken Circle, by Cheryl Potter

The Broken Circle Trilogy, a wonderful, young adult, crossover fantasy for readers of all ages. "This first book follows the story of twelve knitting witches through adventures fraught with mayhem and mischief."
  1. The Broken Circle: yarns of the Knitting Witches
  2. The Secrets of the Crystal Caves
  3. The Healing Circle 
It was ironic. I grabbed this book as I headed into our local ER. I'd been sent a review copy.
Amazingly, I made it through the first 100 pages, during my 5 hours in the ER, and I was intrigued. Now, you must imagine an ER cubicle. It was busy, with people coming and going in the hallway, but the plot kept my attention. It is a must-read for knitters, as the story weaves together a number of elements and images that sustain a lovely tapestry. Also, Cheryl Potter has created and designed, and posted for sale on the web, patterns for items that feature in each chapter.
One of our hospice
volunteers knitting

The book includes a map, and a character list, which helped me out, being a bit stressed in my ER cubicle. At the time, I found it difficult to picture the characters. I wondered if I'd missed something along the way and went back to the early chapters, where the painting of the characters usually take place. I was unable to paint a picture of them in my mind's eye. Whilst the landscape and the climate in this difficult era is quite bleak, I realized that there are few actual descriptions. It is a contrast between the bleakness of the times, and the colourful language.

My blog buddy's scarab
(Used with permission)
The magic of the dye crystals make it a colourful and crafty book. There is a scarab wand, and women folk with hidden powers. The Fossicker's Creed is one example! It would be a delightful book for young people, who seem to embrace the other world. The magic of the dye crystals incorporates colour, vivid sensory imagery ("smelled of burnt rags and fish oil"), and a sense of the foundation of mother earth.

With strong female protagonists, all named for colours, introduced in each chapter
Helpful pages
on characters!
Broken Circle introduces themes of family relationships, coming of age, good an evil, dark and light, and tough life choices.

The editors have included several black and white drawings, which supports the colourful crafty book, but I found it difficult picturing each individual character as they are introduced chapter-by-chapter. It might just be me!

If working with students on this book (download the student workbook), I'd have much fun incorporating and integrating art, language studies, map making, character illustration, colour wheels, and the like. I must admit that there are some colours I had never heard of, which would appeal to those gifted artists each classroom seems to happily possess.
student workbook

The vocabulary, including various colours, is amazing: logwood, cochineal, indigo, rosewood, marigold, jet, aubergine, fire opal, ruby garnet, crystalized amber.

The swearing is a hoot: "Shards!"
     "What in cracked crystal...!"
     "By the shards and cracked crystal which made them," Indigo swore.
     "Heavenly hand knits!"
     "Holey socks!"

It is a story one would have to be careful with, as some families eschew the notion of witches, let alone knitting witches. There is some embibing of liquid and smoked substances, which is a reality in some lives. One better addressed than ignored.
It is an empowering story, one that hearkens back to the days of yore, when women, druids, magic and cloaks of invisibility make for intrigue.


Knitting hospice volunteers
Cheryl Potter is one of the foremost experts in the world of knitting, dyes, and patterns.
They have created a video of still photographs, which sadly had an ad before it, not so good when you are having to buy the books, and patterns. I'm not sure it adds to the flavour of the book.

In the spirit of learning, there is an incredibly interactive website with a complimentary reading guide workbook that is available for free download at: The workbook is a fantastic learning tool for independent readers as well as for parents and educators.  The workbook includes analytical reasoning questions, critical reading questions, discussion prompts, and vocabulary words for each chapter.
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book review blogs
@Barrie Summy


Anonymous said...

I tried the link but it led to an error page, but did use the tabs at the top of the site to find the right one.

DeniseinVA said...

Those book reviews were fun! Sorry you had to go to the ER :(

Judy said...

Sounds like an interesting book!! Will have to request it from the library when I get home...
Only two and a half days of classes left, and my practical, and I will be done school...

Debbie said...

i'm not a reader :(

but the review was fun to read. i do however love to knit and i so admire those who knit for hospice patients. we have a group at the hospital i visit they are such lovely people!!

Sarah Laurence said...

Are you okay? It's good that you had the right book to distract you during a stressful time.

Barrie said...

Twelve knitting witches? Adventures fraught with mayhem and mischief? How fun is all that! Sorry about the ER, but I'm glad you had a good book to read there. Let me check your link. Linda McLaughlin said hers didn't work. So, I'll try yours, then pop over to her site and try hers. Everyone else's has worked fine this a.m. for me. Thanks for reviewing, Jenn!

Barrie said...

The graphic book review club link worked perfectly for me. I'm scratching my head over this....

Karen said...

I will be checking out these books. As a yarn crafter, the subject matter was of great interest.
During my recent trip to the ER I finished reading a book about knitting, then went to the CT, then picked up MY knitting when they brought me back to my room. The staff were having a chuckle. Apparently I was knitting away in my sleep!

Barrie said...

wanted to let you know that i got your link right. :)

Randi said...

I wanted to send you a message to thank you for the wonderful review! I'm sorry you were in the ER while you were reading it, but glad that it gave you a little enjoyment during that wait! I have a fondness for the swears too and often find myself using them in real life!

Best Wishes,

Cheryl Potter