A Tangled Web

A Novella

Young Adult - Coming of Age
126 Pages
Reviewed on 12/25/2016
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

M L Sparrow is currently the author of four full length novels, a novella and a slew of short stories published in various anthologies. She will write pretty much anything that pops into her head, no matter the genre, and enjoys keeping her readers guessing as to what she will write next, though you can pretty much guarantee that there will be some degree of romance!

As well as writing, she enjoys travelling and has been to some amazing countries, where she never fails to gather inspiration and has an endless supply of ideas for future novels…

    Book Review

Reviewed by Rosie Malezer for Readers' Favorite

A Tangled Web is a novella written by M.L. Sparrow. Teenage girl, Hayashi Taiyo, has been best friends with twin boys, Ryuu and Kairi, for most of her life. Although physically identical, the boys’ personalities couldn’t be more different. Kairi is completely no-nonsense, spending almost all of his free time studying, whilst his brother, Ryuu, is a mischief-maker who enjoys having fun, but not at the expense of others. After Taiyo’s friend, Aya, is involved in an accident, she begins dating Ryuu, much to Taiyo’s dismay. When asked on a double-date with Kairi, Ryuu and Aya, Taiyo accepts, but her affection for Ryuu is discovered. The fallout between the small group of friends is massive due to a web of lies woven by Taiyo, which she’d hoped would prevent people being hurt. With friendships frayed and torn, Ryuu and Taiyo decide to play hooky from school, which unwittingly lands them at the epicenter of a major earthquake, before being faced with their worst nightmare, in the form of a 13-meter wave.

With Japanese terminology being used throughout, both in dialogue and descriptions, as well as a highly useful glossary of each of those Japanese words provided at the back of the book, I found I was easily transported to a culturally realistic time and place in Japan. Most of M.L. Sparrow’s tale deals with typical everyday drama in a teenager’s life, inclusive of love, friendship, and respect. The Japanese culture shines through, showing how very different it is to other cultures and mannerisms around the world. What I most loved in this book was how it showed the clear difference between superficial love and true love, while also showing that disabilities do not make anyone less of a person. True love can withstand and overcome any obstacle. I found A Tangled Web to be very entertaining reading. My eyes were opened to the very real and terrifying everyday hazards of life in Japan, such as frequent earthquakes and (thankfully) not-so-frequent tsunamis, as well as the alert system used by those who live permanently in Japan. I recommend A Tangled Web to readers aged 12-18 who enjoy drama, friendship, love, tragedy and romance in their reads, especially when entwined with a different culture.

Jack Magnus

A Tangled Web is a young adult historical coming of age novella written by M.L. Sparrow. Hayashi Taiyo lived with her grandmother. Her mother died when she was five years old, and her father didn't feel able to raise her on his own. Oba-chan and the twins, Ryuu and Kairi, became, over the years, her family. The two boys had been her best friends since they were all children, and, every day, they would go off to school together. While they were twins, Ryuu and Kairi were quite different. Ryuu was more moody and was athletically inclined, while Kairi was more intellectual and calm. Taiyo loved them both as friends, but something about Ryuu affected her differently than his brother. So when it was Kairi who suggested the two of them begin to date, she was taken by surprise. She didn't want to hurt his feelings, but felt odd when she saw Ryuu's reaction. When Ryuu asked her friend out, Taiyo realized that she really wanted Ryuu to be her boyfriend. She would have to break things off with Kairi in as gentle a way as possible, but somehow it seemed harder to do than she had thought. Just when everything seemed to have worked out perfectly, disaster struck.

ML Sparrow's coming of age novella, A Tangled Web, is set in Japan in the days before the earthquake and tsunami that hit on March 11, 2011. In this story, we see that giant wave and its aftermath through the eyes of a teenage girl who had gone to the shore with her boyfriend that day instead of going to school. Sparrow's Taiyo and Ryuu are such compelling characters. I quickly got caught up in their burgeoning romance and the difficulties they had to resolve with Kairi. Taiyo is a strong, determined character who runs track and enjoys the challenge of a good hard run. Watching as she stays in Rikuzentakata to help with finding survivors is inspirational. Sparrow's story brings the devastation of that tsunami event home in a way that newspaper accounts could never do. Along the way, Taiyo comes of age in a fiercely strong and fabulous fashion. A Tangled Web is most highly recommended.

Mark woods

Due to be released on February 1st, I was lucky enough to be given a preview copy of this interesting and intriguing short little novella by M.L.Sparrow recently in exchange for an honest review.
This was the first thing I've read by this author and I have to say, it was an absolute delight to read.

Set just before, during and after the 2011 tsunami that devastated Japan a few years back, the book follows the life of young teenager, Taiyo, who becomes caught up in a web of lies when she finds herself torn between two boys - twin brothers with whom she has been friends with for most of her life.

As Taiyo finds her lies becoming ever and ever more involved in her bid to avoid hurting anyone's feelings, her world is quite literally rocked by one of the biggest natural disasters in all Japan's history as Taiyo finds herself coming close to losing everything she loves...

This was a short read but one that was nonetheless highly intense. The characters were highly believable, memorable and well crafted, and it is a testament to Miss Sparrow's writing that after only a few pages, I almost felt like I knew them - so quickly was I absorbed into their world.

If I had one complaint, it was that I thought the book was too short and I thought that at some points, M.L Sparrow could have gone into more detail about the tsunami and it's after effects considering they play such a crucial role in the story, but this was a small aside. Also, I would have liked to know about what happened to the characters after the story ended, but the truth is, Miss Sparrow here has managed to do what so many authors spend their whole career trying to do and then miserably failing - leaving her audience craving more.

Like I say, this was the first thing I had read by Miss Sparrow - who describes herself as an author who refuses to restrict herself to one specific genre, instead choosing to write whatever she feels like at the time - but you know what, I'd happily read her again and in the end, who can ask for a better recommendation than that?

Literary Titan

Set against the backdrop of one of the most devastating natural disasters in recent history, A Tangled Web by ML Sparrow tells a tale of teenage angst and romance. A girl abandoned by her parents and twin brothers wrapped up in their emotions weave this tale of romance, betrayal and heartache. Hayashi Taiyo has lived with her grandmother since the death of her mother. She has grown up with twins Kita Ryuu and Kairi in the quiet little town they live in. Things start off soft and slow as we learn about their everyday lives. As with most teenagers, growing emotions and endless confusion seek to disrupt the delicate balance between the three. Two brothers who are as opposite as fire and ice and the girl caught between them. However a tsunami is coming and it will upend their lives in ways they couldn’t imagine.

This novella is just the right length. The relationships between the three who are caught up in the love triangle are delicately portrayed. There is just enough backstory to understand the past of the characters and their mindsets without feeling as though something is missing. The risk a lot of novella’s run is that there is not enough explanation. Sparrow crafts the tale in such a way that the small page count doesn’t detract from the story itself.

By using the romaji forms of several Japanese words in the story the reader can feel much more like they are experiencing every day life in Japan. There is a handy glossary at the back of the book but the sentences they are used in and the way Sparrow writes makes it easy to understand what the words are meant to mean. This saves the reader from having to flip to the end of the novella while reading.

The tsunami in Japan in March of 2011 was devastating. A force of nature that could not be stopped devoured lives and homes without regard. Sparrow indicates at the beginning of the novella which books they read to better understand what happened. By listing them out it allows the reader to continue investigating the event on their own time. This novella is a work of fiction and whether or not Taiyo and her twin friends Ryuu and Kairi actually exist is unknown. What is true is that there are people who lived through the tsunami just like our three protagonists did.

A Tangled Web because is a story about three young people who are trying to navigate the transition from childhood to adulthood. It’s a delicate journey and the severity of the tsunami serves to illuminate the fact that life will go on. The tsunami is like the tumultuous relationship between the three. It attempts to tear them apart, to drown them, and it will change them forever. It’s a lovely read for those who are interested in a coming of age story with a touch of reality.

Poulami Ghosh

Taiyo lives in Japan with her grandmother. She is torn between the two brothers Ryuu and Kairi who has been her best friends since childhood. She realizes she has been in love with Ryuu since forever after she starts dating Kairi. Taiyo finds herself in a tangle of lies created by herself but when disaster strikes her whole world shatters.

I really loved reading A Tangled Web. The characters were diverse and unique. Kairi and Ryuu are twin brothers but they couldn’t be more different from each other. Whereas Kairi is obedient and focused on his career, Ryuu is the mischief-maker and fun loving one. I immediately fell in love with Ryuu, he was just so lively and humane.

The story focuses on the life of Taiyo who is our protagonist. When Kairi asks her on a date, she is unable to say anything which the others take it as a yes which was so wrong btw. She decides to go on with it after she sees Ryuu dating but finally realizes she has always loved him. After the confession, Taiyo should have immediately come clean to Kairi and the others, especially her friend Aya who was dating Ryuu. However, in order to protect the feelings of other, she begins to tell lies after lies which ultimately creates more problem for her. I understood she was afraid to lose her friends but lying wasn’t simply the right thing to do.

Nonetheless, the earthquake along with the tsunami happens when Taiyo and Ryuu are on the beach. It gave me goosebumps to read those scenes and thinking that the disaster actually took place only a few years ago. The chaos that followed really broke my heart.

There was various Japenese terminology used in this book but the writing flowed smoothly and it was pretty easy to understand the terms plus there was a glossary in the end.

Overall, A Tangled Web was an interesting read. I liked how the story was told, everything felt so real, like I was transported to that very place. The characters were refreshing to read about. I loved the message that was conveyed throughout the book.

Recommend it?



I have read a few books from this author. I really enjoyed her writing! This book is no exception! Taiyo lives in Japan and has been friends with twin boys for a long time. I found myself caught up in the story and characters of this book. I enjoy the how M L Sparrow pulls me into the story and makes me want to read more. I felt what the characters were feeling and the up and downs they felt. I was immersed in the world and the story. I also enjoyed that the book was short because I got through it quickly. * I received this book from the author---This is my honest review*

Platypire Bob

​*I honestly don't remember if I was requested to review this, or if I just bought it because I'm a major fangirl. Either way, here's a review!*

Oh. Oh wow. Okay, so I am already a HUGE fan of ML Sparrow, but this one kicked it up a notch. Beautiful storytelling, as is usual for her, this book centered on well developed characters set in the middle of a real life tragedy. It went from normal teenage dramas from daily life, to tragedy striking without warning. And the emotions that Taiyo went through felt really real and genuine, and OMG I just don't even know what else to say. I cried a little, my heart stopped a little, this is just amazing, and I recommend it to literally anyone that likes to read at all. So well done!

Bob says: all the Platypires and stars. ALL OF THEM!

Anjie @ Love thy Shelf

I am always excited when Sparrow asks me to review her books. I am a fan of her writing style and I have enjoyed all of her books I’ve read. I was worried because this time around it would be a short story. I was worried that I wouldn’t have enough time to really get engrossed by the story and really feel for the characters. I shouldn’t have been worried because it was such a wonderful read. I mean, it was depressing me because it surrounded the real life tsunami that devastated Japan in 2011. I really loved the way it was written. The book started before the tsunami and I love how the book was separated by date and it further emphasized the normalcy of their days that was all of a sudden disrupted. The crazy thing is that there was no warning, at least not enough of a warning. Unlike in Miami, where I live, we get plenty of warnings before a hurricane hits us. We can get reinforcements and have time for evacuation. But a tsunami, of that size and magnitude, what is there to be done?

The closer the novella got to the date, the more anxious I got and I loved that the book affected me this way. I love how Sparrow wrote the story, that even though we’ve only been given 94 pages, we knew Taiyo’s story and her history and relationships with Ryuu and Kairi. I don’t know much about the Japanese culture and honestly didn’t even know much about the tsunami and Sparrow only heightened my curiosity. I love that there is so much Japanese culture in the novella. I really loved that we had a glossary in the end to help us with the Japanese words used in the book. I’m serious guys, I actually looked into the tsunami. I watched videos and researched the whole thing. It is a really interesting topic that I have yet to read about and I am so glad that Sparrow wrote on it. I enjoyed the characters. They were very unique and the love story was very believable in its progression.