New York City, 2141: Yojana Patel throws herself off a skyscraper, but never hits the ground.
Cornwall, 1640: gentle young Dora Predennick, newly come to Sweetclover Hall to work, discovers a badly-burnt woman at the bottom of a flight of stairs. When she reaches out to comfort the dying woman, she’s knocked unconscious, only to wake, centuries later, in empty laboratory room.
On a rainy night in present-day Cornwall, seventeen-year-old Kaz Cecka sneaks into the long-abandoned Sweetclover Hall, determined to secure a dry place to sleep. Instead he finds a frightened housemaid who believes Charles I is king and an angry girl who claims to come from the future.
Thrust into the centre of an adventure that spans millennia, Dora, Kaz and Jana must learn to harness powers they barely understand to escape not only villainous Lord Sweetclover but the forces of a fanatical army… all the while staying one step ahead of a mysterious woman known only as Quil.
I received a paperback version of this when I attended a YA bloggers event held by Waterstones in Birmingham in September 2015. I’m not a huge YA fan (so have no idea how I ended up at the event – I’ve found out subsequently I wasn’t the only person to wonder what they were doing there!) but since this was a nicely produced paperback, and we’d all put the effort in, I decided to forge ahead.
Anyway, onto the book:
There’s three main “heroes” in the book – two girls, one guy, who are taken from various places and times, along with several “baddies”, most of whom you don’t know their “motivation” and whether they really are “baddies” or not.
Jana, Kaz and Dora all leap across time and space but end back in England during the 1640s and the English Civil War. Dora is 14 years old and from the 17th Century, so this allows the author to use her as the token “let me explain the internet again” person so that young readers don’t feel stupid by not understanding big ideas like time travel, lasers, computers, laboratories etc. This implies that the book is patronising to younger readers (something I am particularly averse to in books for younger readers, which is why I don’t read much YA) but it’s not.
Quil is an interesting character, occasionally friendly, sometimes believable, and often downright batshit crazy. She is disfigured after some kind of fire, which means she wears a white, full facial mask (which is rather groovy) and a bad wig (which isn’t). Through a quirk of time travel it seems she is in 1645 to look after a 5 years younger version of herself. It seems Jana, Kaz and Dora have been linked together because between them, they can timetravel, and somehow they are needed to follow up with Quil. Thankfully, because of Quil’s barminess, some of the more difficult questions over time travel are quickly dismissed by an “I don’t know” or a metaphorical “look! shiny thing!.
There’s no overly complicated terminology or situations; adults are confusing and ambiguous as are situations; there’s plenty of blood, guts, betrayals and death; not everyone gets out of it alive or necessarily whole; people are able to think “this is enough”. There are enough loose ends in the book to continue the series, and I wouldn’t be adverse to reading the next book (though not necessarily in a rush – but that’s because of me, not the book). I’m sure there are plenty who would go for it. I am going to offer this to someone who has a son in his early teens. In discussing it with her, it seems that the most likely thing to put him off is the female leads (nothing about the blood and guts, naturally!), though he has apparently read the Divergent books, so who knows?!
About this author
I have written episode guides, magazine articles, film and book reviews, comics, audio plays for Big Finish, far too many blogs, some poems you will never read, and a trilogy of novels for Abaddon. My wife and two children indulge me, patiently.