I love reading more than just about anything else and can't wait to share my views with you.
This review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews
I'll admit that I didn't understand why everyone was so hyped about this book. Call me shallow, but I definitely judge a book by it's cover and neither the original one nor the one they finally settled on really grabs my attention. They are both so bland to me. However, I'm glad I did let the lackluster cover prevent me from reading it because it's so much better than it's boring cover. I understand the cover choices after reading it and think it matches the story well, but it's still not something that screams READ ME!
When you meet Hope, her life is a shitstorm. She's dealing with the loss of her mother, her father's new girlfriend, and then she's shipped off to her unknown relatives. That just seemed a bit inconsiderate. I mean, I get that her dad wanted a trip with his new girl, but you could have given Hope just a bit more warning. I mean, it's not like Hope is a normal girl who can just hop on a plane with no problems. She's never been able to even board a plane before without a serious freak-out and you expect her to just jump on a plane and fly halfway across the world to spend time with the aunt she's never met? I get the enticement of getting to know more of her mom's past, but that was just mean. You could have should have warned her sooner. Seriously, dude, not cool. Hope handles it all about as well as to be expected. Actually, she did a bit better than the average teenager I think, but still. It was almost like losing both parents in one shot. She was a pretty enjoyable character to see from. She's a bit of a know it all, but it's hard not to be with an eidetic memory. I liked how well she handled the family secret. "Oh, by the way, we're time travelers and you're mom is stuck in the past!" Really? Cool. Obviously there was a bit more to it than that, but she doesn't handle it really well.
The setting is really the main star here. Taylor does a fantastic job creating the medieval realm for us. Everything felt so realistic and dangerous. The wrong move, the wrong phrase and they could be done for. It's clear that Taylor did her research on this time period and even things as simple as what words or phrases were in use at the time. That seems like a trivial detail, but it's not. Saying a word that wasn't invented yet or widely used could catch the attention of the wrong people or just change history.
Beyond Hope and the setting, we get a few more interesting characters. I really enjoyed all of them....especially a particular love interest. I won't say much about that except it's pretty obvious from moment one where that is going to go. The predictability didn't stop me from enjoying it. From moment one, that is exactly where I wanted it to go.
This is getting a lot of comparisons to Outlander. I can't speak on that front because I have not read it or watched the show (though I want to on both counts). However, what this really reminded me of was the 2003 Paul Walker movie Timeline. I never read the book counterpart to that (though, again, I want to), but I adore the movie and this just had me flashing back to scenes in that. I mean, you have the time-travel aspect, the parent stuck in the past bit, and another plot point that I can't mention because.....reasons. Okay fine, I can't mention it because of spoilers, but it was more fun to say it the other way.
Basically, I really enjoyed this. I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. I recommend it to anyone who is a fan of time-travel or historical novels. Though it doesn't end on a life-altering cliffhanger, I'm very excited to see what happens in book 2!
I may have just been blown away by the epic Scottish accent, but I think Amanda Ronconi did a fantastic job. As mentioned, she reads in a Scottish accent for all the Scottish characters, as well as American for Hope and British for...other people. I was very impressed. And I hope she narrators book 2 or I'll be sorely disappointed. I'll definitely be checking out her work in the future, but for now, I'd recommend audio-booking this over reading the traditional way because Amanda's accents are spot-on and add an extra bit of magic to this world.
****Thank you to Esther Bochner at Audible for providing me with an audio copy in exchange for an honest review****