Two teenage boys fending off gray, winged creatures against a setting sun backdrop.

About the Book

Title: Many Waters (Time Quintet #4)
Published: 1986
Series: Kairos
Swoonworthy Scale: 6

Cover Story: True Love
BFF Charm: Make It Rain
Talky Talk: Growing Up
Bonus Factors: Old Testament, Mini Mammoths
Relationship Status: In Middle School I Had A Creepy Thing For This Book And We Just Ran Into Each Other At A Reunion And Hooked Up And It Was Kinda Weird, But I Still Kind Of Liked It?

Cover Story: True Love

The original Many Waters cover is so absurd and sexy, I can hardly handle it. The book certainly tells us over and over that twins Sandy and Dennys are The Sex, but this cover confirms it. My favorite is whichever twin it is who is captured mid-strip tease. “Oh, it’s just so hot in this desert. I’ve got to take off this hot flannel and strip down to my beater. Don’t mine me!” No, Sandy/Dennys. I do not mind. I don’t mind one bit. You can take your pants off next if they’re bothering you. Besides the unclothed twins in the foreground, you’ve got drawings of the seraphim and the sun and the whole thing is quite lovely (the front cover extends over to the back cover, where we see the Ark). So if you’re unashamed by the drawing of our Jailbait twins, then this cover is basically perfection.

The Deal:

15-year-old twins Sandy and Dennys are the ordinary members of the extraordinary Murry family. They don’t go on space-time adventures like their older sister Meg and they aren’t super-geniuses like their younger brother Charles Wallace. They’re more interested in playing sports, gardening and eating their weight in sandwiches. One winter afternoon, they find themselves in their mother’s laboratory, messing around with a computer of their fathers. Suddenly they are no longer in cold, snowy New England, but in a dessert in an unknown place and time in the universe. The people they encounter there are tiny and there are mythological creatures such as unicorns (not to mention the Seraphim and their fallen brothers, the Nephilim). They are taken in by kind strangers and soon discover they are staying with Noah (as in of the ark and the flood). Will Sandy and Dennys be able to find a way back home? Or will they become casualties of the great flood?

BFF Charm: Make It Rain

BFF charm holding an umbrella

Haha, make in rain – get it? This is especially appropriate because of the RAINS that caused the FLOOD. I am too clever. But seriously though, there are lots of characters to love here. To start, Sandy and Dennys are a tag team of sexy-awesomeness. They’re smart, brave and good-hearted. And there are TWO OF THEM. But the problem here is that I don’t really want Sandy or Dennys to be my besties. I want to date both of them, AT THE SAME TIME. And if they aren’t cool with that, then I will just have to do it on the sly. Because, really, how can one choose between Sandy and Dennys?? It is impossible, I tell you.

But there are plenty of characters to love besides the twins. And because they aren’t the twins, you can love them in a non-sexual predator way. Japheth is the young man who original finds Sandy/Dennys and he is kind-hearted and good. His grandfather Lamech is generous and helps nurse Sandy back to health. Noah’s daughter Yalith and daughter-in-law Oholibamah help take care of Dennys and they are great human beings (like, get raptured good). None of these people are exactly exciting enough to be my friends in modern times. But as far as biblical times go? They are (obviously) the best people to befriend, because everyone else is totally wicked and worthy of drowning (apparently).

Swoonworthy Scale: 6

Whoa, guys. This book is super, weirdly sexual! Like, no joke, I was honestly shocked by it all. All the biblical-time lady folks have uncovered, “rosy” breasts and Sandy and Dennys make no secret of being warm for Yalith’s form. And the Nephilim have this delightful habit of taking human brides and impregnating them. One girl, Tiglah, is sent by her Naphilim boyfriend to try and seduce Sandy. And she almost succeeds except that Sandy decides, AND I QUOTE: “Tiglah was not worth losing his ability to touch a unicorn.”

Thank you Madeleine L’engle for coming up with my new favorite euphemism for virginityability to touch a unicorn. “Hey guys! Let’s all make a pact that we all keep our ability to touch unicorns until we’re married.” “Sorry Steve…I’m just not ready to stop touching unicorns, can we just have some outercourse instead?” There aren’t really any real relationships for me to root for, so these points are exclusively based on high amount of strange and bizarre sexual content. Like, maybe I’m supposed to be learning that lust is sinful and wicked but some of its ambiguous enough that I’m not really sure? And if L’Engle’s intent was to NOT induce a middle-school sized boner over Sandy and Dennys from her female readers…well…THEN SHE FAILED.

Talky Talk: Growing Up

Of all of L’Engle’s Time books, this is the one I believe to be the most adult and least fantastical of the group. I’ve already mentioned the highly sexual nature of many of the characters and situations. And due to Sandy/Dennys’ age, everything unusual about this world is met with straight-forward observations. And the third-person point of view serves a more omniscient role and we find ourselves spending time with characters besides just Sandy and Dennys.

Bonus Factor: Old Testament

A circle with a map in the middle and multiple different religious symbols all around the edges like a compass

In high school, I was a Sunday School teacher for four years. Which is a fact that makes anyone who knows me now laugh hysterically or become horrified. Because I was basically the worst Sunday School teacher ever. 60% of my lessons involved bible coloring books and most the stories we told the children I would say things like “oh my, well…I don’t think God would have really done that, he’s much too nice for something like that.” The Old Testament is full of crazy cool stories, but the only one I can ever remember is Noah’s! So I love that L’Engle took such a well-known bible story and put her own fantasy spin on it.

Bonus Factor: Mini Mammoths

A young boy hugs a pile of books.


Relationship Status: In Middle School I Had A Creepy Thing For This Book And We Just Ran Into Each Other At A Reunion And Hooked Up And It Was Kinda Weird, But I Still Kind Of Liked It?

I thought this book was the bomb dot com growing up. So, when the FYA ladies discussed reviewing L’Engle’s Time series, I basically ALL CAPS relied with something probably similar to: DIBS ON MANY WATERS, I WILL CUT A BITCH WHO TRIES TO GET UP ON MY SANDY/DANNYS. And no one tried to fight me, which I’d like to think had to do with being fierce and scary, but also maybe had something to do with that no one else was quite as creepy-passionate about Many Waters?

So getting a chance to read this book again was interesting. I couldn’t help but wonder if I’d love it as much as I had…maybe the book had changed…maybe I had changed! So when reading it, I kept wondering…what was it that I thought was so good? Was it the plot? Well, no, especially considering how little happens. I mean, Sandy and Dennys literally spend 200 pages and 8 months recovering from heat stroke. I KID YOU NOT. Was it the theology? Well, certainly not, because that kind of stuff always goes right over my head. So what was it then? It was the twins. And I am glad to say, THAT THE TWINS HELD UP. I’m fairly certain they were ALL I cared about in my original reading and that was mostly all I cared about today (possibly only due to my lingering obsession). The twins have a certain je ne sais quoi that cannot be quantified. And so does this book.

FTC Full Disclosure: I purchased my own copy of this book. I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!). Many Waters is available now.

Megan is an unabashed fangirl who is often in a state of panic about her inability to watch, read and play all the things.