A Tangle of Knots
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"A Tangle of Knots" Characters Analysis

By Lisa Graff

fantasy | 230 pages | Published in 2013

Told in multiple viewpoints, A Tangle of Knots is a magnificent puzzle. In a slightly magical world where everyone has a Talent, eleven-year-old Cady is an orphan with a phenomenal Talent for cake baking. But little does she know that fate has set her on a journey from the moment she was born. And her destiny leads her to a mysterious address that houses a lost luggage emporium, an old recipe, a family of children searching for their own Talents, and a Talent Thief who will alter her life forever. However, these encounters hold the key to Cady's past and how she became an orphan. If she's lucky, fate may reunite her with her long-lost parent. Lisa Graff adds a pinch of magic to a sharply crafted plot to create a novel that will have readers wondering about fate and the way we're all connected.


Estimated read time: 6 min read

List of Characters

CadyProtagonist, Orphan
Miss MalloryLandlady
TobyCady's friend
MarigoldCady's friend
ZaneCady's friend
WillCady's friend
Chef AntonCelebrity chef
WillaCady's mother
BellaCady's grandmother

Role Identification

In the book "A Tangle of Knots" by Lisa Graff, Cady acts as the main protagonist. She is an orphan with a unique talent for baking. Other significant characters include Miss Mallory, Cady's landlady; Toby, Marigold, Zane, and Will, who are Cady's friends; Chef Anton, a famous chef; Willa, Cady's mother; and Bella, Cady's grandmother.

Character Descriptions

  • Cady: Cady is a twelve-year-old girl with a curly mop of hair and a talent for baking. She is kind-hearted, determined, and has a knack for understanding people's "talent" through their favorite flavor of cake. Cady is an orphan searching for her Talent, the special skill that defines her.
  • Miss Mallory: Miss Mallory is Cady's landlady at the Dharma Arms. She is an elderly woman with a warm heart and a passion for helping others. Miss Mallory is supportive of Cady and provides her with guidance and a sense of home.
  • Toby: Toby is one of Cady's friends and a boy with a Talent for untying knots. He is calm, patient, and always eager to help. Toby is an important ally for Cady on her journey.
  • Marigold: Marigold is another friend of Cady's and a girl with a Talent for spitting. She is confident, spirited, and fiercely loyal to her friends. Marigold adds a playful and adventurous element to the story.
  • Zane: Zane is a boy who can predict the future through his Talent for jigsaw puzzles. He is quiet, observant, and often lost in his thoughts. Zane's ability to foresee events plays a significant role in the story's unfolding.
  • Will: Will is a boy with a Talent for baking perfect pies. He is charming, mischievous, and always ready for an adventure. Will's friendship with Cady brings both joy and challenges throughout the story.
  • Chef Anton: Chef Anton is a famous celebrity chef who is known for his exceptional culinary skills. He plays a crucial role in Cady's journey and helps her discover her true Talent.
  • Willa: Willa is Cady's absent mother. She is a talented baker who disappeared when Cady was a baby. Cady longs to find her mother and understand her own Talent.
  • Bella: Bella is Cady's grandmother, who has passed away before the events of the book. Her legacy and the mystery surrounding her Talent drive Cady's search for her own identity.

Character Traits

  • Cady: Determined, kind-hearted, intuitive, talented, curious
  • Miss Mallory: Warm-hearted, supportive, caring, wise
  • Toby: Patient, helpful, calm, resourceful
  • Marigold: Confident, spirited, loyal, adventurous
  • Zane: Quiet, observant, thoughtful, insightful
  • Will: Charming, mischievous, adventurous, loyal
  • Chef Anton: Talented, influential, supportive, knowledgeable
  • Willa: Mysterious, talented, absent, regretful
  • Bella: Enigmatic, talented, deceased, influential

Character Background

Cady, the protagonist, is an orphan who lives in the Dharma Arms apartment building. She has been searching for her Talent ever since she was abandoned as a baby. Her mother, Willa, was a talented baker who disappeared without a trace, leaving Cady with a deep longing to find her and discover her own identity.

Miss Mallory, the kind-hearted landlady, provides Cady with a sense of stability and guidance. Cady's friends, Toby, Marigold, Zane, and Will, each possess their own unique Talent. Chef Anton, a renowned chef, becomes an important mentor for Cady as he helps her explore her passion for baking.

Throughout the book, Cady learns about her grandmother Bella's legendary Talent for baking the perfect cake, which adds to her determination to find her own Talent and uncover her family's history.

Character Arcs

Cady's character arc revolves around her journey to discover her Talent and find her missing mother. At the beginning of the book, she is uncertain and longing for a sense of identity. Through her interactions with Miss Mallory, Chef Anton, and her friends, Cady gradually gains confidence and belief in herself.

As Cady unlocks her baking Talent and explores the world of flavors, she begins to understand her own unique abilities and the power of her passion. Along the way, she learns valuable lessons about friendship, loyalty, and the importance of embracing one's true self.


  • Cady and Miss Mallory: Miss Mallory becomes a surrogate mother figure for Cady, providing her with love, support, and guidance. Their relationship strengthens Cady's sense of belonging and helps her navigate her journey.
  • Cady and Toby, Marigold, Zane, and Will: Cady's friendships with her fellow residents at the Dharma Arms are crucial to her growth and development. Together, they form a tight-knit group that supports each other and aids in unlocking their own Talents.
  • Cady and Chef Anton: Chef Anton becomes Cady's mentor and teacher, guiding her in the world of baking and helping her embrace her Talent. Their relationship fuels Cady's passion and provides her with valuable knowledge and encouragement.
  • Cady and Willa: Although Willa is absent for most of the story, Cady's longing to find her mother drives her actions. Their relationship is defined by mystery and the search for identity, leading to a climactic revelation.

In conclusion, "A Tangle of Knots" features a diverse cast of characters, each with their own unique talents and personalities. Cady's character development, relationships, and search for her Talent drive the narrative, creating a compelling and heartwarming story of self-discovery and the power of connection.