Twisting the Rope by R.A. MacAvoy fantasy book reviewsTwisting the Rope by R.A. MacAvoyTwisting the Rope by R.A. MacAvoy

Twisting the Rope (1986) is a sequel to R.A. MacAvoy’s Tea With the Black Dragon. It’s recommended, but not necessary, to have read Tea With the Black Dragon first.

It’s been five years since Martha Macnamara met Mayland Long at the hotel in San Francisco. They’ve been together since. Martha is now approximately 55 years old and Mayland appears to be around the same age, but we don’t really know how old he is. He has secrets.

Martha, an exellent violin player, has put together a folk band that travels around playing traditional Irish tunes. Mayland manages the band, collecting their earnings and taking care of expenses and other logistics so the band members can concentrate on their music.

The band is spectacular together, but there’s a lot of drama including a budding romance between two of the players, managers who don’t pay as promised, practical jokes gone wrong, a grandchild who’s acting strangely, and one band member who everyone hates. The story eventually turns into a murder mystery with a fantastical twist.Twisting the Rope by R.A. MacAvoy

Like Tea With the Black Dragon, Twisting the Rope is an original and refreshing urban fantasy — there’s nothing else like it in fantasy literature. It’s quirky, odd, and unpredictable. But the pace is of Twisting the Rope is uneven, with a very slow wind up and a frantic finish.

Also, as with Tea With the Black Dragon, I had some trouble believing in these characters or even finding them very interesting. During one climactic scene in which the characters are searching for a lost child, I thought most of their actions and emotional expressions were unlikely. And, unfortunately, Mayland Long has lost much of the mystique he exuded in Tea With the Black Dragon.

I’d recommend Twisting the Rope to readers who really loved Martha and Mayland in Tea With the Black Dragon but, if you didn’t, you probably want to skip Twisting the Rope.

I listened to Audible Studio’s version which is 8 hours long and narrated by Megan Hayes. Mostly she give a nice performance, though I found some of her character voices slightly annoying (or maybe it was just the characters who were slightly annoying).

Published in 1986. In this sequel to Tea With the Black Dragon, Mayland Long is once again thrust into a maelstrom of mysterious happenings. The peaceful relationship he has established with Martha Macnamara is being threatened. A wild psychic force is loose in the world, while Martha’s granddaughter has been kidnapped and one of her Celtic musician friends has been found dead, hanging by a rope of twisted grass. Now the Black Dragon must use his wits to hunt for the killer…even if it brings him to a horrifying realization.

The Black Dragon — (1983-1986) Publisher: Martha Macnamara knows that her daughter Elizabeth is in trouble, she just doesn’t know what kind. Mysterious phone calls from San Francisco at odd hours of the night are the only contact she has had with Elizabeth for years. Now, Elizabeth has sent her a plane ticket and reserved a room for her at San Francisco’s most luxurious hotel. Yet she has not tried to contact Martha since she arrived, leaving her lonely, confused and a little bit worried. Into the story steps Mayland Long, a distinguished-looking and wealthy Chinese man who lives at the hotel and is drawn to Martha’s good nature and ability to pinpoint the truth of a matter. Mayland and Martha become close in a short period of time and he promises to help her find Elizabeth, making small inroads in the mystery before Martha herself disappears. Now Mayland is struck by the realization, too late, that he is in love with Martha, and now he fears for her life. Determined to find her, he sets his prodigious philosopher’s mind to work on the problem, embarking on a potentially dangerous adventure.

book review R.A. MacAvoy Tea with the Black Dragonbook review R.A. MacAvoy Twisting the Rope


  • Kat Hooper

    KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.