The big kitchen of the Murray's house was bright and warm, curtains drawn against the dark outside, against the rain driving past the house from the northeast. Meg Murray O'Keefe had made an arrangement of chrysanthemums for the dining table, and the yellow, bronze, and pale-gold blossoms seemed to add light to the room. A delectable smell of roasting turkey came from the oven, and her mother stood by the stove, stirring the giblet gravy.
It was good to be home for Thanksgiving, she thought, to be reunited with family, catching up on what each one had been doing.
So begins A Swiftly Tilting Planet, the third installment in Madeleine L'Engle's Time Quintet. In this timely book, a grown-up Meg and teenage Charles Wallace are living in an America suffering from an increasingly unstable political climate and the threat of rogue dictators. At Thanksgiving dinner, they receive a phone call and realize they have 24 hours to avert nuclear disaster. Meg and Charles Wallace will have to draw on their inner strength in order to recognize "Etchthroi," or the powers of evil, and change "might-have-beens," the turning points in history.
Each chapter of the book is titled after a line in an Irish rune which becomes central to the story as the plot progresses. As the powers of darkness in the present grow more and more threatening, Charles Wallace must use his goodness to influence past events.
In this fateful hour
All Heaven with its power
The sun with its brightness
The snow with its whiteness
The fire with all the strength it hath
The lightning with its rapid wrath
The winds with their swiftness
The sea with its deepness
The rocks with their steepness
The earth with its starkness
All these I place
By God's almighty help and grace,
Between myself and the powers of darkness.
Through Charles Wallace and other characters, we are reminded that we each may be living "in this fateful hour," and even a seemingly small decision may have enormous consequences. Their choices are good reminders of how important it is that we choose on the side of good whenever possible. Will anyone be willing to make the ultimate choice and put themselves between civilization and the powers of darkness?