[[quoteright:223:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/awrinkleintime.jpg]]

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 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. That said, he's not without [[BigScrewedUpFamily his own problems]], and the Murry children have a much happier family life.
* 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. Most of the planets the children visit are at least capable of supporting human life, but at one point the Mrs Ws attempt to visit a two-dimensional world, temporarily forgetting that humans cannot become two-dimensional without [[SquashedFlat unpleasant consequences]]. And Ixchel, though biochemically similar to Earth, is a world where nothing has eyes and no form of life has color.
* AnotherDimension: The fifth dimension, to be exact. And there's an [[EldritchLocation "amusing"]] near-stop on a two-dimensional planet. "Amusing" here meaning "[[SquashedFlat the human protagonists nearly died just from being there]], [[StarfishAliens because their celestial guides forgot how humans work.]]"
* 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. Though 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 is ruled by [[spoiler: a massive, all-controlling psionic brain, IT, which imposes extreme conformity on the whole planet and attempts to absorb and "reprocess" anything outside of itself.]]
* BigBad: IT, the manifestation of the Dark Thing on Camazotz that [[spoiler: has imprisoned Meg's father following his tesseract accident]].
* BigManOnCampus: Calvin, though part of the point of his character is pointing out that this doesn't necessarily force him to conform to the stereotypes of his social group.
* BigBrotherIsWatching: The people of Camazotz are all, to the extent that they are capable of emotion, vaguely worried of the consequences of being spotted acting outside their pre-defined roles to help the children. Their concerns are not misplaced: we later see a child whose regimented "ball playing" was out-of-sync being "reconditioned" with pain to put him back on-rhythm.
* BigSisterInstinct: Meg is very protective of Charles Wallace, is horrified when [[spoiler: his {{Pride}} drives him to sync with IT, and is only able to save him with ThePowerOfLove.]]
* BlackSheep: The twins, Sandy and Dennys, in the Murry family, to a lesser extent. They're normal in a family of misfit intellectuals.
* BrainInAJar: [[spoiler: IT, though it's JUST big enough that it probably isn't ''completely'' human.]]
* CareBearStare: How Meg saves the day. [[spoiler: The Dark Thing, and its servants, such as IT, cannot understand love. Meg isn't quite able to save Camazotz by loving (and thus destroying) IT, but she can love Charles Wallace and save him.]]
* ChekhovsGunman: For the series as a whole, Meg's antagonistic school principal, [[Literature/AWindInTheDoor Mr. Jenkins]], and Calvin's hard, angry mother [[Literature/ASwiftlyTiltingPlanet Mrs. O'Keefe]].
* ChildProdigy: Charles Wallace, though the novel plays it unusually realistically, focusing on both the social alienation his intelligence causes in his peers and the pride and arrogant certainty of his own abilities that it has given him.
* 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 it is more grounded in reality than your average CloudCuckoolander and the probable result of his powerful intellect more than anything else.
* CreepyChild: Charles Wallace, while under the influence of [[TheAssimilator IT]].
* CutAndPasteSuburb: The city on Camazotz is an exaggerated example, where even the ''people'' are somehow samey and bland.
* DaddyHadAGoodReasonForAbandoningYou: Dr. Murry has been away since Charles Wallace was a baby, at least four years, working on secret government project, and hasn't answered the family's letters for more than a year as the novel starts. [[spoiler: 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 Dark Thing, after the star attacked and wounded it. And on Camazotz, IT's power often manifests as a pulsing, rhythmic [[LightIsNotGood light]].
* DisappearedDad: The search for Meg's father is the main plot for most of the book.
* DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything: Camazotz comes across as an amalgamation of the worst aspects of the two UsefulNotes/ColdWar superpowers: the rigid conformism and [[RedScare suspicion of outsiders]] of 1950's America and the equally-rigid state attempts to control the lives and minds of its citizens of Stalinist Russia.
* TheDragon: The Man with the Red Eyes to IT, as the herald of IT and chief agent of "reprocessing."
* DysfunctionalFamily: Calvin's family is large and unhappy, which is why he loves spending time with the Murrys.
* EldritchAbomination: Many examples.
** In ''A Wrinkle In Time'', we have IT, a [[spoiler: a superpowered MassHypnosis-inducing BrainInAJar]]. IT is a literal "abomination unto the Lord", absorbing the minds of all who come near IT, and IT has existed for ''millions'' of years.
** We also have the Black Thing, the malignant cosmic entity behind IT. The Black Thing is literally MadeOfEvil and attempting to stamp out all positive forces in the universe.
** In the sequels, all we learn about the Echthroi is that they're [[VoluntaryShapeshifter shapeshifting]] [[OmnicidalManiac world-destroyers]] who wield ThePowerOfTheVoid and [[WrongContextMagic can break laws other beings take for granted]].
** Finally, both Averted and Lampshaded with the Beasts of Ixchel. They physically resemble StarfishAliens more than the [[UncannyValley seemingly-human]] inhabitants of Camazotz. They're little more then humanoid outlines covered in tentacles and are telepathic, but they are the dead opposite of IT: Warm, gentle, empathic and life-giving, they are totally dedicated to fighting the Dark Thing. They also have no eyes, and have no concept at all of light or sight.
* ElectiveMute: Charles Wallace, who didn't talk until a very late age and still prefers silence in front of people he doesn't trust.
* EvilCannotComprehendGood: "''And the [[Literature/TheBible light shineth forth in darkness]], and the darkness comprehendeth it not.''" More mildly, the Mrs Ws comfort Meg and Charles by saying that the townspeople who mock their father's disappearance are demonstrating their small-minded inability to recognize plain, simple love when they see it.
* {{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. The most obvious manifestation is in [[TotallyRadical the kids' slang]]. However, Camazotz does almost directly critique fifties suburbia (see DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything above), and the book is in many ways a protest against the prevailing thought at the time.
* 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, which help Meg to bypass the Transparent Column [[spoiler: and free her father]].
* GoodWithNumbers: Meg is excellent at calculations and hopeless at all other subjects, because she had a brilliant scientist father whom she adored teaching her. Calvin is conversely [[OppositesAttract best with English]], reflecting the highly-developed social skills and ability to communicate and empathize that Meg often lacks.
* GreaterScopeVillain: The Dark Thing, a malign cosmic force attempting to destroy all creativity and positive emotion in the universe, world by world. Many planets struggle with it, including Earth, but some, like Camazotz, have already fallen.
* 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 injure the Dark Thing. A similar incident is revealed to be part of Mrs Whatsit's backstory.
* HiveMind: Downplayed on Camazotz. While the people there have their own minds, after a fashion, they have no individuality at all and their wills are ultimately subservient to the will of IT, which, it it implied, contains their collective memories.
* HumanAliens: The people of Camazotz. They look just like ordinary people on Earth, living in an ordinary suburb... except ''they all do exactly the same things at the same time.'' And then our protagonists meet [[TheDragon The Man with Red Eyes.]]
* HonoraryUncle: Aunt Beast, who picks the terms herself while going through the suggestions in Meg's mind to learn to communicate with her.
* ImpossiblyDeliciousFood: When Meg is among Aunt Beast's people, recuperating from her tessering [[spoiler:by her father]] through the Dark Thing, this is the food she gets. Contrasting with the food on Camazotz, which ''looks'' like normal food but tastes like sand without the psychic power of IT to cheat the brain, the food of the beasts is grey and shapeless, since nothing on Ixchel has any color, but so tasty that human language literally cannot describe it.
* ImprobablyHighIQ: Charles Wallace, who has an IQ that is off conventional charts.
* IndividualityIsIllegal: On Camazotz, where the first signs of it are met with capture and "reprocessing." It is a reflection and amplification of the highly conformist culture of TheFifties, and of the Murry's hometown, where the Murry's are a family of eccentric scientists and are met with suspicion from all the townsfolk who resent and fear their closeness and unwillingness to fit in.
* 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. The entire Murry family really. Sandy and Dennys are the only ones to fit in and later books imply that they downplay their intelligence avoid this trope.
* ItWasADarkAndStormyNight: These are the first words of the book, though the storm is more than mere scenery: it is the storm blowing Mrs Whatsit off-course that kicks off the plot.
* ItWasAGift: The children each receive gifts from the Mrs Ws when they first land on Camazotz to help them find their father. 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 in the original novel. Not so in the movie. Then again, the movie has [[spoiler:Meg freeing an ''entire planet'' from brain-washing by [[TalkingTheMonsterToDeath making one awkward, rambling speech]], [[AntiClimax then winning]].]] 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 a "good guy" is able to fight them off. Meg might not have been strong enough to [[spoiler: love IT]], but next time, who knows?
* LargeHam: IT in TheFilmOfTheBook.
%%* LiminalBeing: Meg is neither one thing or the other.
* MadeOfEvil: The Dark Thing, literally, according to Mrs Which.
* MasculineGirlFeminineBoy: More subtle than most examples. Calvin, despite being male, is good at English, self-expression, and the traditionally "feminine" and "emotional" virtues of empathy and compassion. Meg, the girl, loves mathematics, and has a traditionally-masculine "rationalist" worldview. For TheFifties, this is some downright ''subversive'' criticism, and it remains cogent to many MarsAndVenusGenderContrast stereotypes today.
* MeaningfulName: The planets Camazotz and Ixchel are named for the Mayan deities of death/sacrifice and birth, rainbows, and medicine, 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: Whenever IT is directly taking over someone, their pupils dilate almost completely.
* MindYourStep: A step in the Murry house creaks. Charles Wallace uses that to signal to Meg that he wants to talk.
* NerdsAreSexy: Calvin finds Meg's intelligence ''very'' attractive, though they're still [[ToyShip rather young]].
* 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 in subsequent novels.
* OurAngelsAreDifferent: Played with as far as the Mrs Ws 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, though he self-identifies as a ''plural'' creature.
* 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 calls this on a 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 when he is rude to his father by 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, the children are SquashedFlat.
* ParentalAbandonment: Meg's father, first to do long-term government work, then when he stopped answering letters a year ago. [[spoiler: Despite the taunts and gossip of the townsfolk, it was an 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. [[spoiler: Their father can do it too, but he isn't nearly as skilled as the Mrs Ws, which is how he became lost in the first place.]]
* ThePowerOfLove: "You have something that [[spoiler: IT ]] has not. This something is your only weapon."
* {{Pride}}: The cause of Charles Wallace grabbing the IdiotBall. His arrogance and confidence in his telepathic abilities and intelligence leads him to willingly put himself under the control of an EldritchAbomination thinking he can simply break out whenever he wants. Of course, IT promptly takes complete control of his mind and personality. He got warned ahead of time too!
* 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...
** According to the author in a note at the end of the first book, "Mrs. Murry" uses the period at the end of Mrs. because she is American. The British spelling is "Mrs" without punctuation - she preferred using the British spelling, sans punctuation, to indicate the foreignness of the Mrs W's.
* 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, who finds verbalizing her own thoughts extremely difficult. Borrowing similar thoughts from great thinkers is ''much'' easier and quicker.
* StarfishAliens: Played with. The peaceful people of Ixchel, who are [[EyelessFace blind]], hairy, tentacled, beasts are much wiser, kinder, and more ''humane'' than the humanoid but individuality-free creatures that live on Camazotz.
* StepfordSuburbia: Camazotz.
* SuperiorSpecies: Played with. Many non-terrestrial species appear beautiful, kind, loving, and in touch with the music of the spheres, while Earth is a "shadowed" world that the UltimateEvil is trying to corrupt (other worlds, such as Camazotz, have already fallen, and are called "dark planets"). However, the fact that Earth is "shadowed" rather than "dark" implies that humans aren't quite lost yet, and Ixchel is also "shadowed": the protagonists were just lucky enough to end up among the creatures fighting it.
* TechnoBabble: Averted. 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, but instead of using random gibberish, she explains it through a variety of models and concepts from ordinary geometry.
* 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 their apparently-human shape coupled with their bizarre apparent uniform, rhythmic movements. Inverted with the beasts of Ixchel, whose inhuman bodies belie their more-human minds.
* VoluntaryShapeshifting: Mrs Whatsit transforms into a winged-centaur 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, though it is about as material as she ever gets.
* WhatBeautifulEyes: Explicitly noted by Calvin, who tells Meg flat out that "I don't want anyone else to see what dreamboat eyes you have," when she removes her glasses.
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse / ChuckCunninghamSyndrome: The Dark Thing never appears in the sequels, which instead refer to the [[MadeOfEvil beings of evil]] as the Echthroi. Neither are Mrs Whatsit, Who, and Which, or Progo ever mentioned again, even when later novels involve other cosmic agents of good helping the protagonists.
* WhiteSheep: Calvin, the intelligent and sensitive child in a family of hard, loud people who don't even realize he's gone. No wonder he envies the Murrys.
* 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. [[spoiler: He doesn't listen, and it almost spells disaster.]]
* WithAFriendAndAStranger: Meg journeys with her beloved brother Charles Wallace, and the stranger is Calvin O'Keefe, whom she knows in passing as the big man on campus, and thinks he's a JerkJock. [[spoiler: This becomes important when they need to rescue Charles Wallace, and Meg is the only person in the group with a strong enough bond to have a chance of saving him.]]
* 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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