My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I’ll be honest with you, right from the beginning, I’m not one for ‘love stories’ in my literature: ‘girl meets boy, boy’s an idiot/oaf/rich egotist, girl pines, boy realises mistake, and hilarity/heartbreak/humping ensues’ etc etc. It all bores me witless, especially if there are bonnets or Bennets involved. But, when that love story is set as the background to a clever, witty, tightly constructed novel with time-travel as its main crux, then that’s me sold.
The opening prologue sets us up nicely for the journey to come by introducing us first to Julia Percy a 19th Century orphan left in the care of a Grandfather on his deathbed. As he faces his final moments he tells Julia that she “…must pretend-“before using his mystical ability to speed up his demise. Soon we discover that Julia has powers of her own and that she must indeed ‘pretend’ several times to save her own life.
We’re also introduced to Nick, a wealthy playboy with a nice little side-line as a Vermont cheese farmer in 2013. His world is about to be torn apart by a summons from a mysterious organisation known only as The Guild, the society that gave him his new affluent life after he ‘jumped’ through time seconds before he was due to be slaughtered on the battlefield 200 years previously.
What follows is an amazing ride across the time lines full of good guys, bad guys and quite a few ambiguous guys as well, but it’s testament to Ridgway’s writing that none of them feel forced or surplus to the plot. And what a plot it is! I’m no dumbo, nor am I naïve when it comes to the topic of time travel, but I was genuinely kept guessing by Ridgway, and it’s rare that I’m impressed by a debut author as much as I was by her. My only gripe (though its reasoning could mean a sequel) is that there a few threads left dangling at the end of the novel. I’m hoping there is, as I would love to take a trip with these characters again.