Time has lost its moorings. Time tornadoes are ripping through London, depositing artifacts from centuries past and stealing people from the present.... So starts Jeanette Winterson's children's novel Tanglewreck. The story follows eleven-year-old Silver, who has been living with her selfish aunt, Mrs. Rokabye, and Mrs. Rokabye's pet rabbit Bigamist (so named for his "habits"), ever since the rest of Silver's family vanished under suspicious circumstances. Silver lives in an old and cold house called Tanglewreck, until the strange Abel Darkwater shows up looking for a missing clock called the Timekeeper, purported to control all of Time.
As Silver journeys to find the Timekeeper, she's introduced to Regalia Mason, the Chief Executive and President of Quanta, a company that controls nearly everything -- except for Time. Until, that is, Regalia invents Time Transfusions, taking Time from "useless" people who have too much and selling it to "important" people. It's up to Silver to outwit Abel and Regalia, and to save Time.
I've long been a fan of Jeanette Winterson's writing, and so I wondered what her first book for children would be like. Ultimately, there's a big adult life message in the story -- "the machine age and the computer age both promised to give mere mortals more time in their lives, but less time is what it seems we have. We are using up Time too fast, just as we are using up all the other resources of the earth" -- nevertheless it's a fun read, full of quirky characters and adventures. And there's a simpler message to hang on to, too, for (as Abel Darkwater tells Silver) "there is always time for a piece of chocolate cake, oh yes." How true.