What happens if we change history? The author explores this question in the novel, weaving an historical fantasy as imaginative as it is exciting—a story full of love and adventure that transports readers to a haunting setting in Victorian London for their own taste of time travel.
Released: June 2011 Pages: 613
Publisher: Atria Books Source: Library
First Look: ***** This book had it all, based on my first look: time travel, steampunk elements, and a cool cover. Unfortunately, it didn't follow up.
Setting: ***** Here we in Victorian London again. Not that I have any issue with that, but was there only one city during this time period? I'm running about of things to say about these settings, because when they seem well-researched, there's not much I can say.
Characters: ***** The novel is divided into three parts, each featuring a slightly different set of characters. The first portion featured Andrew, who I couldn't like. He was impulsive and had no thought for how his actions might affect others. His storyline centered around his love for Marie, a prostitute. The relationship (a very one-sided relationship) progressed to the point where Andrew was sleeping with Marie each night while her husband waited outside. Even ignoring the fact that she's a prostitute, I hated Andrew for it. Marie is already married. Andrew had every intention of stealing her away so they could get married. Um, excuse me? Leave her alone. And after *spoiler--highlight to read* Marie died, *end spoiler* all Andrew did for eight years was wallow in self-pity, which doesn't help me like him.
The second portion of the book featured Claire and Tom. Claire was okay, but I couldn't stand Tom, either. The series of events leading up to this is twisty and complex, so I won't explain it all, but in short, this is what happened: Claire goes to "the past" and sees Tom, whom she falls in love with. Back in the present, Tom and Claire meet again, and Tom convinces Claire to sleep with him because she thinks he's a time traveler, and he lies to her and tells her they've already done it, and not doing so would disrupt the fabric of time. Which is, of course, a total lie. I can't stand a person who cons and cheats like this. It's not okay. I felt bad for Claire.
The third portion mostly featured H.G. Wells, whom I neither liked nor disliked.
Plot: ***** The plot was complex, and the three parts were loosely intertwined. The plot did, indeed, have all the ingredients to be compelling in all its intricacies and twists. When a twist did happen, it was interesting. So what happened?
The problem was that this book is about three hundred pages too long. There were so many things that just weren't necessary to the story. For example, why did we need to spend at least two chapters on the meeting and interaction between H.G. Wells and the Elephant Man? It added nothing to the story, bored me, and wasn't needed.
So much of this story could have been trimmed. If that had been the case, it would have been a tighter, more compelling book. But instead, I was bored through most of it. If I wasn't the type of person who had to finish books no matter what, I would have stopped reading.
Uniqueness: ***** This book's version of "time travel" was interesting, and at times, even unexpected.
Writing: ***** The author knows how to write pretty prose. I'll give him that. There were a few turns of phrase that were quite lovely, and caught my attention.
Unfortunately, this writing style that I would've otherwise loved dragged the novel out way too long. I talked about this before, in the plot section: in places, there was just too much, and it made me bored.
The other thing that annoyed me was the narrator's asides to the readers of the novel. This could have been used to add impact to the story, but instead it was used to apologize for over-describing things, repetition, and other annoying aspects of the narration. How about, instead of apologizing for these things, fix them? Would that have been so bad?
Likes: This book makes me want to read The Time Machine.
Not-so-great: It's probably a bad idea to refer to someone as a "time lord" unless you're deliberately trying to make a reference, and I don't think that was the case here.
Overall: This book had all the potential to be full of complex plot twists and cool time travel. Unfortunately, it was dragged out about three hundred pages too long. The narrator used his omniscient power to apologize for flaws in the narration instead of fixing these problems. Two of the three main characters I absolutely hated. It had a few redeeming qualities, but not many. Two stars.
Similar Books: It featured time travel in Victorian London like The Reluctant Assassin, and had a steampunk feel like The Girl in the Steel Corset and even Clockwork Angel.
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