Source: Netgalley e-ARC
I was provided with this ARC by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.
i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes.
ii. A journey by water; a voyage.
iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time.
In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.
Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them— whether she wants to or not.
Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are playing, treacherous forces threaten to separate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home . . . forever
*I feel like I should start off my review by saying that I am completely and totally biased when it comes to this book. I LOVE books with time travel. That totally might influcence by ability to write an objective review*
With that said, I really did enjoy this book. It actually reminded me a lot of the Ruby Red Trilogy by Kerstin Gier (which is one of my favorites) only, expanded. Etta and Nicholas go all over the world and through all these different time periods, which was really, really cool.
I think the plot started off a bit slow in the present day and even once Etta arrived in the 18th Century. I feel like there was too much time spent on the ship. I get that these scenes held character development, but it slowed the book down. Once Etta and Nicholas escape into the past again, that’s where the story picks up. And it was awesome. It was jam packed with action, as well as wonderful worldbuilding and even more character development.
And I loved being transported to the different years and locations and I think Bracken did a wonderful job of bringing everything to life. Some periods were stronger than others, but I did feel as if I were in the middle of the Bltiz in London, or in the jungle in Cambodia. She paints vivid scenes, and in a book like this that’s what you really need.
I really enjoyed that the plot and the characters discussed the difficulties (which is putting it very mildly) that both women and people of color faced throughout history. And not just in the 18th century. Even when they go to 1940s London they have to assess their situation to see how appropriate their behaviors are for the the time period. I also appreciated that it didn’t shy away from, not only the sexism and racism of the past, but acknowledged that we don’t live in some beautiful Utopia where everyone is finally equal.
Etta is a strong heroine. She can take care of herself, even in the past in worlds she should be totally lost in. When she is thrown into the past, moments after her mentor is brutally murdered, she doesn’t break down (which is kind of a let down. I don’t know about you, but if I had just seen the dead body of someone close to me and THEN I was brought back to the 1700s I think I would freak out a little) but I guess it just goes to show Etta is more composed than I am. She stands up for what she believes in and is quick to point out the injustices of not only the past, but the present.
I couldn’t really get as strong as a read on Nicholas. There are so many different aspects that influence his personality: he’s a freed slave; it’s a pirate (legally); he’s the bastard son of a rich and powerful white man, and he was separated from his mother at a young age. He is as strong willed and stubborn as Etta and hates being a pawn in the game of his powerful grandfather.
The romance was a bit meh. It was sort of insta-lovey, but not really at the same time. And I’m always quicker to ignore insta-love in cases where two characters are thrown together in dangerous situations. I feel like if they are going through all of this shit together, relying on each other to survive and whatnot, it’s no surprise that they would fall in love. I guess it was just the beginning of their romance, which is always the most passionate coupled with the fact that they are from such different times and may lose each other forever which stops me from hating on it.
There were some issues that I feel like probably might be bigger deals to other readers (but as I said, I love time travel books so I’m willingly to look past a lot).
I was very confused about the science (magic?) behind their abilities but I usually am when it comes to time travel books. It didn’t really take away from my enjoyment of the reading (maybe because I just accept that I am not smart enough when it comes to physics (??) to understand that type of stuff). Also, by the end of the book I had a more concrete understanding, but even so it wasn’t all explained. I basically just told myself that I would have to re-read it which I will, because there is no way I will be able to go into the sequel in a year without rereading it.
It also suffered from some things that do annoy me in books: Etta’s totally and complete acceptance within 5 minutes that she can time travel, which I already mentioned. I guess once you’ve already done it has to be easier to believe, but still. And the fact that everyone gets angry at her for not knowing the laws of time travelling. LIKE HELLO she just learned about it yesterday.
But even with those issues, I still loved it. I still can’t wait for the sequel because that ending was just so cruel!