- Page Count: 428
- Release Date: March 1, 2016
- My Rating: 3.5 stars
Goodreads book description:
When fragile, sixteen-year-old Hope Walton loses her mom to an earthquake overseas, her secluded world crumbles. Agreeing to spend the summer in Scotland, Hope discovers that her mother was more than a brilliant academic, but also a member of a secret society of time travelers. Trapped in the twelfth century in the age of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Hope has seventy-two hours to rescue her mother and get back to their own time. Along the way, her path collides with that of a mysterious boy who could be vital to her mission . . . or the key to Hope’s undoing.
I’m not sure why there are so many time travel books based in Scotland. Pretty sure I need to start roaming the highlands (but with a backpack full of antibiotics and/or something to cut a fever because I PLAN AHEAD, CHILDREN). Anyways, I could probably write both a 2-star and a 5-star review, so we’re going with 3.5 stars. This book really was a fun read, but I still thought it fell short of its potential.
What I *think* was the plot: Hope is a girl who has a lot of anxieties, so her time traveling mom kept her out of the loop about everything. When her mom goes missing (presumed dead), Hope goes to Scotland for the summer to stay with her aunt. The Scottish manor has an underground passage into a mountain in the highlands where a bunch of ley lines intersect, making time travel possible if they carry a stone. Hope meets a hot guy out on the highlands, learns there’s another group of evil time travelers after some super-power stone, and then decides to travel back in time to the Middle Ages with two other teens to rescue her missing mother. Then… I’m not even sure what became the focus of the story. Not the mother. Not the other teens or evil time travelers. Not really the super stone. It might have been instalove + how awesome Eleanor of Aquitaine is?
So the premise & setting were really fun and the writing was good, but the actual storyline itself was all over the place. The book’s biggest problem is it tried to cover way too much, so it could never get very complex. I seriously felt like was getting whiplash at times as I tried to figure out what the focus of the story was (beyond the few incredibly predictable plot points).
Exhibit A: When Hope gets to the Middle Ages, she wanders off and runs into Rachel, a Jewish girl who is incredibly persecuted for her religion. After several chapters, the story started to feel like it was going to be about religious divides or how much Rachel’s life sucks, which would have been fine if she was going to show up in the sequel or somehow matter to the story… but no. She’s suddenly gone from the plot a few hundred pages later. None of it particularly mattered.
But then Rachel ended up being a way more developed character than even Collum and Phoebe, the two teens Hope is traveling with. Phoebe was really fun at the beginning, but apparently lost her personality in the time travel portal thing. I could barely get a sense of Collum — I’m not sure if there was meant to be a love triangle there or what was up with his constant controlling, glaring weirdness, but that was all we really get from him. Even the soldiers who kept trying to rape the girls had more of a personality. (And don’t get me started on the hilarious Middle Ages dialogue).
Historical side characters like Thomas Becket and Eleanor of Aquitaine were the strongest characters in the whole book but the plot didn’t really follow them because they don’t matter in the end. Even the mom and the villain were weak, confusing characters who popped in and out of the story. The group of evil time travelers were never very threatening and way more could be done with them (kind of like that Timeline movie).
Hang on, lemme get a few more complaints out:
Hope is definitely not my favorite main character… like she has no clue how beautiful she is and, of course, is not one of those slutty size 2 blond cheerleaders with big boobs. (That was seriously mentioned. But this part of her personality thankfully disappeared after a few chapters). She still isn’t the brightest bulb, despite having an almost Sherlock-like ability to glance at a book once and forever be able to recall every single thing it said. The instalove with Bran wasn’t as unfounded as it seemed, but I still found myself rolling my eyes a lot at the forced, intense romance that developed so quickly. His “plot twist” was obvious from the very beginning, too.
And honestly, if you’re planning to time travel to the extent that you have an underground lair full of costumes, WHY ARE YOU NOT BRINGING ANTIBIOTICS WITH YOU.
I’m still giving this book 3.5 stars, though. I love Scotland. I love the Middle Ages. Time travel is awesome. The setting and first 25% of this book were good and the writing saved it. I know I just complained forever about it, but I really did like it a lot more than I disliked certain aspects. If you don’t take this book too seriously or hope for any substantial plot then it’s a fun, quick read. Definitely not the best Scottish/Middle Ages time travel book (I can’t believe I’m saying that like it’s some genre), but it’s a solid YA book. Just don’t compare it to like Outlander or anything.
Hopefully the sequel develops stronger characters and a better focus because there’s a ton of potential there!