Friday, September 17, 2010

Retro Review: Anahita's Woven Riddle

Anahita's Woven Riddle
By Meghan Nuttall Sayres
Publication date: 2006

Anahita is a Persian nomad whose father is trying to arrange a marriage for her with the local khan. Anahita has no desire to get married, especially not to the unpleasant khan. Instead, she hopes to learn the craft of dye-making. Anahita begs to be allowed to create a riddle for her potential suitors to solve. She vows that she will marry the person who can solve the riddle woven into her marriage carpet. As word of the riddle contest spreads, many suitors decide to enter the contest including the angry khan, a shepherd, a scholar, and a prince. As Anahita weaves her carpet, her village goes through turmoil. Problems with water rights, war, and changing values threaten their nomadic way of life. Anahita must decide if the price of her riddle contest is worth the cost.

Anahita wants to honor her father while remaining true to her own principles. She is a strong, intelligent, and independent young woman. Throughout the course of the novel she grows up as she realizes the consequences of her decisions and her desire for independence. The other characters are well-developed also; even the khan is a multidimensional character instead of a typical villain.

The novel is filled with interesting facts about Persia and the nomadic life, as well as beautiful Sufi poetry. The imagery, from descriptions of elaborate carpets to Anahita’s favorite scarf, shows the love that the author has for textiles. A glossary in the back includes helpful definitions and pronunciations of Persian words and the appendix provides more information about weaving and Persian history. There is a fairy tale quality to the story which I also enjoyed.  Anahita’s Woven Riddle will appeal to those interested in other cultures.

Readalikes: Tiger Moon by Antonia Michaelis, Toads and Diamonds by Heather Tomlinson, A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth Bunce

*Note: I originally read and reviewed this novel in 2007 for a class on YA services and literature.  I updated the review and made slight changes before publishing it here on my blog. I chose to share this review because it was one of my favorite books that I read for the class. The purpose of retro reviews is to bring attention to previously published books that readers may have missed.*


  1. Sounds great! Thanks for the recommendation & for posting the review :) I'm adding it on my list :)

  2. An excellent review. I love the multicultural aspect and think this would be an awesome addition to my classroom. Thanks you for sharing.

  3. Dear Christiana,

    Thank you for your kind words about Anahita's Woven Riddle. I appreciate the retro-review.

    Meghan Nuttall Sayres


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