As is her wont, Madeleine L'Engle plunges you head first into her story in Many Waters, her fourth book about the Murry family. This time it is the twins, Sandy and Dennys, who have their chance to shine in a mesmerizing re-telling of Noah and the Ark.
L'Engle skillfully manages to weave Biblical beings like seraphim and unicorns in with mythical beings such as griffins and an extinct one, the mammoth. She employs all of her imaginative talents to populate a pre-flood world, but still and all, people are people and evil exists.
Already being a fan, it was easy for me to suspend my disbelief and enter fully into the tale. Since it takes place before the third book of the Time Trilogy (A Swiftly Tilting Planet), the boys are just 15, still innocent and able to summon unicorns, hear the sstars and smell evil. The scientific principles that L'Engle is working with here are particle physics, quantum theory and the fluidity of time and space.
To recap, for those unfamiliar with the Biblical story, Noah, son of Lamech, had a wife and three sons who also had wives. They lived in the desert, and it had never rained. God tells Noah to build an ark, out of gopher wood, because 'many waters' are coming. In further instruction, God tells him that he and his family will be spared, being in the ark, everything else on earth will perish.
I've not read another story where L'Engle uses this technique. A reader who knows the story will catch on before the twins to exactly where and when they are; the only question will be how the boys get home and what happens to the mammoths and the girl, Yalith. The conversations and thoughtful discussions about spiritual and scientific things are not hard to follow, although their interconnectedness may cause the reader to put the book down and "have a think", as Pooh would say.
All in all, in my opinion it is one of her lesser works, but still worthy of the reading.
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