“Then she remembered why she had come to London in the first place; because there was something important to do. If it was important, it was bound to be difficult. She wouldn’t cry and she wouldn’t give up.”
In Tanglewreck by Jeanette Winterson, Silver, 11, lives in the eponymous house, which has a life of its own but lacks her parents and sister, who all disappeared years ago. She is largely left to fend for herself, her only “caretaker” being a supposed aunt who is after the family money (the first in a line of increasingly evil adversaries). Strange things are happening in the world outside Tanglewreck – time itself is breaking down, hurtling people back and forth through future and past, but no one knows why.
One day Abel Darkwater (the next in line) comes to the house seeking a magical clock called the Timekeeper. When he doesn’t find it there, he invites Silver and her aunt to his home in London, so that his accomplices can search the house, and so he can try to pry into Silver’s mind to uncover a memory of the clock’s location. Silver escapes into the city, and quickly finds a companion in Gabriel, a boy living underground with a group of Throwbacks (people from another time). They tell her she must find the Timekeeper before anyone else does, and Gabriel decides at the last minute to join her in her quest.
Silver and Gabriel travel through space and time while seeking the Timekeeper. Gabriel is almost killed, but Silver rescues him. They have the help of several groups of children and adults along the way. A much greater adversary is revealed, Regalia Mason, who owns the most powerful company in the future and is desperate to ensure that the past (our time) goes as planned in order to create that future. In fact, by the end it is almost a case of dueling adversaries, as Regalia and Abel Darkwater both try to control Silver in their own ways.
The final sequence combines several GU tropes – she returns “home” to an alternate universe where her family is intact, courtesy of Regalia Mason, but exposes the fraud of this tempting “happy ending” and chooses to complete her quest, thereby defeating Regalia’s plans. Time is restored to normal, but Silver’s future is unknown.
“The journey will unfold. Your destiny will unfold. But first you must begin.”