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Behind the seemingly innocuous façade of St Mary's, a different kind of historical research is taking place. They don't do 'time-travel' - they 'investigate major historical events in contemporary time'. Maintaining the appearance of harmless eccentrics is not always within their power - especially given their propensity for causing loud explosions when things get too quiet.
Meet the disaster-magnets of St Mary's Institute of Historical Research as they ricochet around History. Their aim is to observe and document - to try and find the answers to many of History's unanswered questions...and not to die in the process. But one wrong move and History will fight back - to the death. And, as they soon discover - it's not just History they're fighting.
Follow the catastrophe curve from 11th-century London to World War I, and from the Cretaceous Period to the destruction of the Great Library at Alexandria. For wherever Historians go, chaos is sure to follow in their wake....
This is the most enjoyable time-travel romp that I’ve ever read! I had great fun following the boisterous and sometimes explosive adventures of Madeleine Maxwell, as she joins the St. Mary’s Institute of Historical Research. The book ends up being something that is hard to categorize, although I’m pretty sure that stores will stick it firmly on the Fantasy shelf. But there is mystery, intrigue, romance—you name the genre.
I am always delighted with fiction that includes dinosaurs, so the time travel to the Cretaceous was absolutely perfect for my tastes. As Miss Maxwell says, “You put dinosaurs and people together, you always get screaming.” Apparently she has seen at least one of the Jurassic Park movies!
I chose this as my time travel selection for my 2018 PopSugar challenge, but I will definitely be continuing on with the series. I love the patchwork of genres, the British sense of humour, and the adventure.
The five Carson siblings have been in turmoil since the disappearance of their parents several months earlier. When oldest sibling, Adam receives a packet from his parent's lawyer, the pieces begin to come together. However, the packet reveals a secret website set up by their parents telling of their discovery of time travel portals and the subsequent adventures in different time periods. After Adam reviews the evidence and reads through how the portals work, he gets his siblings together and they unanimously vote to travel through time in order to reach their parents. They plan to go through a portal near their hometown in Arizona, taking them back to the 1880's; however when they step through the portal they end up near Johnstown, Pennsylvania in December 1888. The siblings quickly try to acclimate themselves into the time and begin the search for their parents. For twin siblings, Cody and Caitlin, this means enrolling in school. For middle brother, Greg, an adventure into the truly wild west to track a lead in Arizona territory and California. For Natalie, using her journalism skills to follow leads while Adam manages information and holds down the fort from the temporary home at the Colbert Boarding House. Even though the sibling's main objective is to find their parents and return home, the extended stay in Johnstown has led to romantic entanglements for four of the five siblings and their parents keep slipping through their fingers. On May 31st, 1889, the Johnstown flood devastates the town and the inhabitants leaving the Carson siblings in disarray.
River Rising is an epic time travel adventure. This is a story you will want to take your time with and sink into. From the moment the five siblings walk through the time portal and into 1880's Pennsylvania, I knew I was in for an exciting ride. Amazingly, all five siblings: Adam, Greg, Natalie, Cody and Caitlin are very well developed and individual characters. They each take turns at telling their part of the story through their point of view while continuing a cohesive story line. Pennsylvania 1888-89 was a wonderful year to travel back to; much like the Carson siblings I was amazed at the time period where Benjamin Harrison had just been elected President, Mark Twain was in his prime, the West was still wild and Punxsutawney Phil has made his first appearance. Through the sibling's eyes, I was able to see many of these events first hand. Unlike the characters in Heldt's other time travel series, the Carson siblings did not travel through time thinking about the possibility of altered timelines. I am very interested in how their very involved actions in 1888 may have altered things in the present. I am also very interested in how the time portals work; it is know that they appear on solstices and seem to appear in areas that are known to be sacred or have paranormal activity. I would love to figure out more about them and where else they seem to pop up. Near the end of the Carson sibling's grand adventure, the game of cat and mouse that they have been playing with their parents seems to be no closer to the end and the intensity increases when tragedy strikes with Johnstown flood; I had a hard time putting the book down. Ending, with a huge cliffhanger, I can not wait to see what happens with the Carson family next.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
[I received a copy of this book through Netgalley.]
I love myself a time travel story, and both the premise as well as the cover here caught my eye. Unfortunately, even though ultimately it was a quick an easy read (as opposed to a book I trudged through), I wasn’t sold on the story or the characters.
I think this is due to the prologue letting me expect a more ‘targetted’ time travel story: a group of time travellers (called ‘incumbents’) holed up in a bunker in Prague, the world dying around them due to a nuclear apocalypse. This war having been triggered by a speech made at the Sacre-Coeur in Paris, the group decides to send one of them back in time in order to prevent that man’s lineage from ever starting. But there’s a catch here: these incumbents can only travel using ‘anomalies’ to which they’re attuned, and since they can’t use someone else’s Anomaly, in this case they need to send someone with an Anomaly in Paris. Which turns out to be Léon, an incumbent with too many travels under his belt, who may or may not be able to perform -all- the time jumps needed to alter the past. Léon does jump, but his aim tis to find a budding traveller in 2017 Paris, and guide them to discover their Anomaly, then to perform the required jumps while they’re still ‘fresh’, so to speak. Along with Léon comes the chronometrist, a former traveller who lost her body (and probably her sanity, too), and whose task is to guide the new incumbent.
…And that’s where it started to turn wrong, because for most of the book, the plot felt only remotely touched, with our new incumbent, Hallie, being guided in such a circumvented way that from beginning to end, I’m not sure she really got what she was doing. And I’m not sure why that was, considering one of Léon’s directives (stated in the prologue, no spoiler here) was to guide her once her ‘mission’ was accomplished, but that… didn’t happen? It was weird. It mostly consisted of Hallie stumbling through her Anomaly, ending up in a different period, bumbling around trying not to get in trouble, with the chronometrist taunting her now and then. It tied up in the end, yet I never got rid of the feeling that plot-wise, the book was plodding rather than making progress.
Character-wise, too, I believe that time spent on stumbling around was meant for character development, but in the end, I didn’t get that much of a feel for Hallie and the people around her, and they end up rather boring to me.
Now, to be fair, I really liked the way the novel approached solutions to ‘prevent a person from being born’. In a lot of time travel stories, the usual approach is to kill them (the Sarah Connor effect), which obviously raises its lot of ethical questions. Here, Hallie found (well, was pushed to) other ways, and that was refreshing to see.