Ruby Red trilogy by Kerstin Gier
One of my favourite series – that incorporates time-travel – hails from Germany. In the Ruby Red (or Precious Stone) trilogy the travellers have a gene that caused them to travel back in time. All her life, Gwyneth thought her cousin Charlotte had this gene, until (of course) they realise that Gwen is the one who carries the gene.
The trilogy is well paced, has a good mystery that keeps you engaged the entire way through the story, and of course, a little bit of romance. This trilogy is one of my favourites for a few reasons:
- There is a strong family presence. Gwen interacts often with her siblings, mom, great aunt, grandmother, aunt and cousin, they are all involved in the story somehow and enhance the narrative.
- Gwen’s best friend, Leslie, is involved in Gwen’s life. Leslie is intelligent, caring and a real person, and they do more than talk about boys.
- While there is a touch of romance, it doesn’t overpower the plot. I’m not a fan of fantasy novels that depend on the romance to sell the story, and this one doesn’t get in the way. I’d also like give a shout-out to no insta-love, and no love triangle?
- The mystery is layered and complex. There’s a secret society, there’s a Count in the past that’s calling all the shots, and there’s a stolen device that’s designed to help travellers go back to specific times.
- Gwen is thoroughly lovable as a character.
I haven’t read all the time-travel novels out there, but from the list of the ones I have read (or heard about), this is by far my favourite.
Warped by Maurissa Guibord
Warped is one of the first books I reviewed when I started blogging about books, and at the time, I thought it was fantastic. I did a quick re-read this year and I find that I still enjoy the tale.
The time-travelling in this book happens because of magic, but instead of going back in time, we have a person from the past travelling to the future.
Tessa and her dad have an old bookstore (gotta love a story with a bookstore) and after winning a box of books and a tapestry at an auction, strange things start to happen; the strangest being William de Chaucy, a medieval English lord who was trapped as a unicorn in a magical tapestry, appearing in Tessa’s bedroom after she pulls a thread from the tapestry. As the story unravels (heh), we find a mystery, some magic and a tiny twist in the end. This book also has family involvement (though not as much as the Ruby Red trilogy) and a remarkable best friend.
There’s a lot happening, and there were times that I wished there were more books to allow the author the time to develop more of the story and the magic. However, upon reflection, I didn’t find it lacking much in story development. Overall, I’d say that Warped was imaginative and fun to read.
Old Magic by Marianne Curley
I read Old Magic a long time ago. The first time I read this, I thought it was incredible, however, it didn’t hold up in a reread years later. Kate and Jarrod travel back in time to help Jarrod break a curse that has been following his family for generations. Their time-travel requires a spell cast by Kate’s grandmother.
I cannot recall the year I read this first, but the second time around I saw a lot of things in the pacing that I would have changed if I was providing feedback. There was too much time spent on Jarrod disbelieving Kate’s insistence that magic was real in the present and too little time in the past.
Once they travelled back in time, I would have liked to see them work harder to fit in. Their entire time in the past seemed too convenient. While the premise was appealing, and while I understand why I loved when past-me read it, present me wanted more.
Clockwise by Elle Strauss
I believe that Clockwise is self-published. I’m always very skeptical when I read self-published books, while they can sometimes be fluff, there are many times when I find myself cringing at the writing style.
In Clockwise, Casey has the ability to travel back in time, she always travels to the same year (civil-war era Boston), where she could spend anywhere from few minutes to days in the past, but her present self doesn’t experience a similar passage of time. I found this aspect of time travel to be just a bit confusing, and we’re never given a satisfying reason for her ability though some groundwork was laid for a reveal in future series.
Casey accidentally takes her crush back in time with her (anything she touches travels back with her) and from there the story focuses more on her relationship with Nate and the conflicts in the past.
My major complaint with this book was that it tried to deal with too many issues/sub-plots and there wasn’t enough time to flesh them all out – women’s place in society, slavery, family dynamics, the origin of her time-travel power and high school drama. As this turned into a series, it might have been better to address many of these things over the course of the series.
Based on these reads, I’ll assume that in order for me to enjoy a time-travel novel it must have – at the least – a fun/complex hero/heroine, some familial inclusion with bonus points for charming best friends, and a compelling mystery.
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