Review: Map of Time
Genre: Historical Fiction and a mix of genres
Publisher: Atria Books
Publish Date: June 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 624 pages
Rating: 4½ of 5
Toss together mystery, romance, fantasy, murder, some scifi, a little steampunk, and a clever plot involving H.G. Wells and time travel and you get a magical story that is highly original, creative and unusual. Not at all what I expected and I was pleasantly surprised.
The book is divided into three loosely related parts each involving incidents of time travel and H.G. Wells. The stories have a common theme but are each very different. All are set in Victorian London, Wells had just published his novel The Time Machine and talk of time travel was the rage.
The first part was about an upper-class young man in love with a prostitute who was murdered by Jack The Ripper. He is so distraught he contemplates suicide. His cousin comes up with a plan to use H.G. Well’s time machine to travel back in time to save her life. In the second part Murray’s Time Travel offers an adventure ride to the future to the post apocalyptic year 2000 to watch the Battle of London against the Automatons. One young woman on the trip falls in love with the hero of the battle and wants to stay there. And in the last part a visitor from the future approaches Wells to enlist his help to save yet to be published literature from destruction.
I enjoyed the first part the most and this story could stand entirely on it’s own. There is a great twist in this story that will delight any time travel fan. The second part was a romance that, although fun to read, was a little difficult to believe even as a fantasy. I also thought it borrowed a bit from The Time Traveler’s Wife. Without giving away too many spoilers, the reader is never sure if the time travel is real or illusion. The last part brings it all together and ties up the loose ends. I especially enjoyed the many plot twists and this makes it difficult to describe much about the plot without giving anything away. Just when you think you know what is coming next you are once again surprised. I read an advance of this book knowing only the details in the publisher’s summary and not knowing much made it more fun.
The book was originally published in Spanish. Other than a few convoluted sentences the translation was excellent and the writing is beautiful. The author vividly describes Victorian London while at the same time giving us a fantastical view of the future and engaging characters. Occasionally he would ramble off into an aside, such as the encounter with Joseph Merrick the Elephant Man, that went on and on and didn’t seem to have a purpose in the plot, other than to enhance the feel of Victorian London.
At 600+ pages the book is a bit of a commitment but I urge you to give it a chance. It’s a very readable and enjoyable book. The loose plot and storyline comes together for a satisfying ending. Truly delightful, a fun journey to the past and the future. Highly recommended.
Source: Advance copy from the publisher.