[[quoteright:223:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/awrinkleintime.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:223:"By the way, ''[[WhamLine there is such a thing as a tesseract.]]''"]]

The first book in the Time Quartet series by Creator/MadeleineLEngle, ''A Wrinkle in Time'' opens with the well-honored line "[[ItWasADarkAndStormyNight It was a dark and stormy night]]" and the appearance of a stranger at the Murry household. The stranger, who calls herself Mrs Whatsit, turns out to be much more than the dotty old lady she initially comes across as. Soon, Meg Murry, her precocious younger brother Charles Wallace, and her schoolmate Calvin find themselves on an interplanetary and interdimensional journey with Mrs Whatsit and her equally odd buddies Mrs Who and Mrs Which to rescue Meg's missing father. To tell more would spoil your enjoyment of this unusual and fantastic (in more than one way) book.

Despite the prominent Newbery medal on the cover, ''A Wrinkle in Time'' does ''not'' follow the DeathByNewberyMedal rule; in fact, it's firmly on the Idealism side of the SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism. Well, sort of.

The further adventures of the Murrys and, especially, Meg are detailed in the sequels: ''Literature/AWindInTheDoor'', ''Literature/ASwiftlyTiltingPlanet'' and ''Literature/ManyWaters'', followed by a series of books centered around [[spoiler: Meg and Calvin's daughter Poly.]]

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!!This book contains the following tropes:
* TheAce: Calvin O'Keefe. He's intelligent enough to fit right in with the Murry family, but he's also athletic, good with words, and generally socially adept in a way that neither Meg nor Charles Wallace can manage, with the result that he's able to fit in at school much better than either of them does. He's also pretty easy on the eyes.
* AFormYouAreComfortableWith: What the Mrs W's use, with the possible exception of Mrs Which, who has problems materializing fully and doesn't look like much of anything. Even when she does briefly materialize, she's in the form of a "stereotypical witch".
** [[LampshadeHanging Lampshaded]] when the children note that, despite the Mrs W's efforts, [[PaperThinDisguise they couldn't actually pass for humans at all]]. Living in abandoned houses, [[NoSocialSkills completely ignoring normal social conduct]] and [[NoodleIncident stealing sheets to "use"]] might've gone a lot worse in different circumstances. And then Mrs Whatsit's line about "getting caught in a downdraft and blown off-course". ...[[{{Foreshadowing}} huh.]] [[{{Flight}} What could she mean by that]]?
* AllPlanetsAreEarthLike: Both averted and played straight.
* AnotherDimension: The fifth dimension, to be exact. And there's an [[EldritchLocation "amusing"]] near-stop on a two-dimensional planet.
** "Amusing" here meaning "the human protagonists nearly died just from being there."
* ArbitrarySkepticism: Excusable in the first book, but becomes progressively worse in the sequels. After Meg has saved her father from being assimilated and Charles Wallace from dying from lack of mitochondria, the twins have traveled to an odd interpretation of the world in Genesis and helped Noah build the Ark, and Charles Wallace has time-traveled throughout history to save the world, you'd think Meg and her parents would be very willing to believe her daughter when she finds a portal to the past.
** Note though that many of the characters weren't present for a number of those adventures: the twins are in fact the biggest skeptics in the family until their journey back in time, since they had not been a part of (or seemingly particularly aware of, though surely their father reappearing after years of absence was explained) any of the previous adventures, but at the same time none of their family members were aware of THAT adventure either.
* AssimilationPlot: Camazotz
* BigBad: IT.
* BigManOnCampus: Calvin
* BiggerBad: The Black Thing.
* BigBrotherIsWatching
* BigSisterInstinct: Meg is very protective of Charles Wallace.
* BlackSheep: Calvin, in his family. The twins, Sandy and Dennys, in the Murry family, to a lesser extent. They're normal in a family of misfit intellectuals.
* BrainInAJar
* CareBearStare: Works better than you'd think.
* ChekhovsGunman: For the series, Mr. Jenkins and Mrs. O'Keefe.
* ChildProdigy: Charles Wallace
* CloudCuckoolander: The Happy Medium comes off as this, but may also be a BunnyEarsLawyer (at being a Medium.) Mrs Who and Whatsit also have overtones of this.
** Charles Wallace has aspects of this, though is more grounded in reality than your average CloudCuckoolander.
* CreepyChild: Charles Wallace, while under the influence of IT.
* CutAndPasteSuburb: The city on Camazotz.
* DaddyHadAGoodReasonForAbandoningYou: Dr. Murry has been missing since Charles Wallace was a baby; at least four years. However, being trapped on a crazy, ultra-controlling planet with no way to get home or communicate with your family is a totally plausible reason.
* DarkIsEvil: Partly straight, partly averted. The "clear" darkness of space is contrasted with the "fearsome" darkness of the Black Thing, when the star attacked it.
* DisappearedDad: The search for Meg's father is the main plot for most of the book.
* DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything: Camazotz comes across as a combination of the worst parts of both UsefulNotes/ColdWar superpowers: one part 1950's America, one part Stalinist Russia, all parts bad.
* TheDragon: The Man with the Red Eyes to IT.
* DysfunctionalFamily: Calvin's family.
* EldritchAbomination: Many examples. In ''A Wrinkle In Time'', we have both IT, a superpowered MassHypnosis-inducing BrainInAJar and The Black Thing, which is literally MadeOfEvil. In the sequels, all we learn about the Echthroi are that they're [[VoluntaryShapeshifter shapeshifting]] [[OmnicidalManiac world-destroyers]] who wield ThePowerOfTheVoid and [[WrongContextMagic can break laws other beings take for granted]].
* ElectiveMute: Charles Wallace.
* EvilCannotComprehendGood: "''And the [[Literature/TheBible light shineth forth in darkness]], and the darkness comprehendeth it not.''"
* {{Exposition}}: When Meg is frozen, Calvin and Mr. Murry's conversation starts with a brief discussion of how Meg is starting to recover, [[AsYouKnow even though they've both just seen it happen]]; then they talk about the research into tessering being done on Earth.
* FasterThanLightTravel: The tesseract, although Mrs Whatsit disclaims moving at any speed. Instead, they "tesser" or "wrinkle."
* TheFifties: Written in 1959. Not really any fifties stereotypes show up though, and the story really could take place in any era if not for some of the [[TotallyRadical kids' slang]].
** However, Camazotz does reflect a creepy version of fifties suburbia (see [[DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything DTRYOA]] above).
* FunetikAksent: Kind of. Mrs Which's ''wwwordss llookkk llikee tthhisss'', to indicate that she's speaking very deliberately while shimmering like a light.
* GogglesDoSomethingUnusual: Mrs Who's glasses.
* GoodWithNumbers: Meg is excellent at calculations and hopeless at all other subjects. Calvin is conversely best with English.
* GreenEyes: Meg has them, and Calvin is so dazzled when he sees them that he tells her to keep them hidden behind her glasses.
* HeroicSacrifice: They witness a star give up its life (i.e. go supernova) to fight the evil.
** A similar incident is revealed to be part of Mrs Whatsit's backstory.
* HiveMind: On Camazotz.
* HumanAliens: The people of Camazotz.
* HonoraryUncle: Aunt Beast.
* ImpossiblyDeliciousFood: When Meg is among Aunt Beast's people, recuperating from her tessering [[spoiler:by her father]] through the Black Thing, this is the food she gets.
* ImprobablyHighIQ: Charles Wallace, who has an IQ that is off conventional charts.
* IndividualityIsIllegal: On Camazotz.
* InnocentProdigy: Charles Wallace.
* IntelligenceEqualsIsolation: Charles Wallace, although his peers would be more likely to taunt LonersAreFreaks. Admittedly, his (vaguely-defined) mental abilities -- like {{Telepathy}}, maybe -- ain't quite Normal. But the horrors of enforced Normality are what the story's all about.
* ItWasADarkAndStormyNight: These are the first words of the book.
* ItWasAGift: The children receive gifts from the Mrs W's, when they first land on Camazotz. Later, Meg receives three gifts from the three Mrs W's when she returns to rescue Charles Wallace from IT.
* KarmaHoudini: IT gets away scot-free. Not so in the movie.
** Then again, the TV movie has [[spoiler:Meg free an ''entire planet'' from brain-washing by making one awkward, rambling speech.]] Talk about an AntiClimax.
** Later books imply that IT and the other "forces of evil" out there have not ''escaped'' their karma per se; they will get what's coming to them as soon as one of the "good guys" gets around to gathering enough strength to fight them off. Which makes the entire climax of the book into something of a HopelessBossFight.
** It is intended to be rather real world, as if he was captured by a Earth nation run by a dictator, the battle between good and evil continues on after the story. In RealLife dictators sometimes get away and sometimes don't.
** In general, the plot of escape from the evil land or rescue someone from the evil land leaves the evil land and its evil rulers intact.
* LargeHam: IT in TheFilmOfTheBook.
* LiminalBeing: Meg is neither one thing or the other.
* MadeOfEvil: The Black Thing, literally, according to Mrs Which.
* MeaningfulName: The planets Camazotz and Ixchel are named for the Mayan deities of death and birth, respectively.
* {{Meganekko}}: Played with. Calvin learns to love Meg for herself, glasses and all... when she takes off her glasses, he's amazed by how beautiful her eyes are, and asks her to keep wearing them because he wants to keep their beauty secret. Awww.
* MindControlEyes: When the pupil vanishes, watch out.
* MindYourStep: A step creaks. Charles Wallace uses that to signal to Meg that he wants to talk.
* NerdsAreSexy: Calvin seems to think so.
* OfficialCouple: It's clear from pretty much the moment they meet that Meg and Calvin are made for each other. This assumption will be proven thoroughly correct.
* OurAngelsAreDifferent: Played with as far as the Mrs W's go. We never find out what exactly they are (Mrs Whatsit was a star once, but we don't know what she really is ''now''). At one point, though, Calvin describes them as angels for lack of a better description. Also, the first sequel, ''A Wind in the Door'', features Proginoskes, a [[InsistentTerminology cherubim]] who is much closer to [[Literature/TheBible Biblical]] depictions of angels than anything else you're likely to see in fiction.
* OurDemonsAreDifferent: Similar to the example above, the Echthroi from the sequels. Somewhat averted, though, because they're never called demons, but they very much seem to fulfill that role.
* OutOfCharacterAlert: Meg says this of mind-controled Charles Wallace to try and explain to her father that Charles isn't himself. First when he calls her "dear sister" and later he is rude to his father, calling him "pop".
* PairTheSmartOnes: Meg's parents are both doctors; her father is a physicist, while her mother is a microbiologist.
* PaperPeople: When they try to land on the two-dimensional world.
* ParentalAbandonment: Meg's father, though by accident.
* PhlebotinumAnalogy: Used to explain how Mrs Whatsit, Mrs Who, and Mrs Which "tesser" or "wrinkle" through space. Works for both Meg ''and'' the audience.
* ThePowerOfLove: "You have something that [[spoiler: IT ]] has not. This something is your only weapon."
* PsychicStatic: Reciting the digits in the square root of five works, as does the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence, but not the multiplication table (in fact, the Man With Red Eyes tried to break through their static with it). The trick is throwing off IT's rhythm with a continuous thought that can't easily fall into mental sync with it. Irrational number sequences and prose work temporarily, [[spoiler:and love works even better]].
* PunctuationShaker: An odd inversion: Meg's mother is "Mrs. Murry" but the witches are "Mrs Whatsit" and so forth. I.e., the witches don't have a period at the end of their "Mrs". What this ''means'' is up in the air...
* ReallySevenHundredYearsOld: Mrs Whatsit is over 2 billion years old, and she's described as being very ''young'' compared to her two companions whom she looks up to.
* RedEyesTakeWarning: '''And how.''' The Man With Red Eyes is a soulless monster right at the bottom of the UncannyValley, as befitting IT's enforcer.
* RuleOfFunny: The two-dimensional planet, to a certain definition of "funny". It's almost instantly fatal to any three-dimensional being (like, say, humans) that find themselves on it, so their visit is quite mercifully cut short.
* ShesAManInJapan: The Happy Medium is played by a man who claims he's "beyond gender" in TheFilmOfTheBook, even though she's clearly a woman in the book.
* SpeaksInShoutouts: Mrs Who.
* StarfishAliens: The peaceful people of Ixchel, who are [[EyelessFace blind]], hairy, tentacled, beasts but much wiser and kinder than humans.
* StepfordSuburbia: Camazotz.
* SuperiorSpecies: Many non-terrestrial species are this. They're beautiful, kind, loving, and in touch with the music of the spheres. Earth, on the other hand, is a "shadowed" world that the UltimateEvil is trying to corrupt (other worlds, such as Camazotz, have already fallen, and are called "dark planets").
** Note that most of the species we meet are on the front lines fighting the evil, one would expect they would be good. Although not mentioned, the only way the evil could be a threat and "shadowing" Earth would be if there were plenty of non-good species as well.
* TechnoBabble: Mrs Whatsit explains to Calvin that instead of traveling at any speed, they "tesser" or "wrinkle", going from 'here' to 'there' without crossing the space in between.
* ThreeAmigos: Meg, Charles, and Calvin
* TwinTelepathy: Notably averted. Sandy and Dennys are the most normal members of the family, though we can see in Charles Wallace that they could have potentially been this.
* UncannyValley: Invoked. The people of Camazotz, and especially the Man With Red Eyes, derive their intense creepiness from this.
* VoluntaryShapeshifting: Mrs Whatsit transforms into a winged being to escort Meg, Charles, and Calvin across the planet Uriel.
** Also, just for fun, Mrs Which transforms into a witch with a broomstick at one point.
* WhatBeautifulEyes: Explicitly noted by Calvin, who tells Meg flat out that "I don't want anyone else to see what dreamboat eyes you have."
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse / ChuckCunninghamSyndrome: The Black Thing never appears in the sequels. The [[MadeOfEvil beings of evil]] are now the Echthroi.
** Nor are Mrs Whatsit, Who, and Which, or Progo ever mentioned again.
* WhosOnFirst: A minor running gag. When Charles mentions Mrs Whatsit for the first time...
-->'''Mrs. Murry:''' Mrs ''who?''
-->'''Charles:''' No, that's the ''other'' one.
* WiseBeyondTheirYears: Charles Wallace, though Mrs Whatsit warns him against the trap of {{Pride}} and arrogance.
* YouKeepUsingThatWord: Probably one of the more infamous examples: the definition of "tesseract" in this book has nothing to do with its real meaning. The error is compounded later on in the book when the characters start using "to tesser" as a verb: the root word of "tesser" in Greek actually means "four" and has nothing to with warping space.
** Well, there is that description about dimensions (a tesseract is a four-dimensional structure similar to a three-dimensional cube, or a two-dimensional square.)
** Justified: "Mrs Whatsit sighed, 'Explanations are not easy when they are about things for which your civilization still has no words.'"
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