Series: Precious Stones Trilogy, Book 1
Genres: Young Adult; Fantasy; Urban Fantasy; Historical Fiction; Paranormal; Romance; Time Travel
Publication date: May 10, 2011
Sixteen-year-old Gwen lives with her extended – and rather eccentric – family in an exclusive London neighborhood. In spite of her ancestors’ peculiar history, she’s had a relatively normal life so far. The time-traveling gene that runs like a secret thread through the female half of the family is supposed to have skipped over Gwen, so she hasn’t been introduced to “the mysteries,” and can spend her time hanging out with her best friend, Lesley. It comes as an unwelcome surprise when she starts taking sudden, uncontrolled leaps into the past.
She’s totally unprepared for time travel, not to mention all that comes with it: fancy clothes, archaic manners, a mysterious secret society, and Gideon, her time-traveling counterpart. He’s obnoxious, a know-it-all, and possibly the best-looking guy she’s seen in any century…
Speaking of mysteries, I suddenly thought of something to take my mind off it all. I went into Mum’s room and looked down at the street. Yes, the man in black was still down there outside number 18. I could see his legs and part of his trench coat. The distance three floors down had never seemed so great. I tried working out how far it was from here to the ground.
Could you actually survive a fall from so far up? Well, maybe, if you were lucky and landed in the middle of a marsh. Apparently all London had once been marshland, or that’s what Mrs. Counter, our geography teacher, said. A marsh was okay – at least you’d have a soft landing. But only to drown horribly in mud.
I swallowed. I didn’t like the turn my own thoughts were taking.Chapter Two
It’s been almost ten years since I read this book for the first time. When I read it high school, I absolutely fell in love with this world and its characters. Sure I haven’t been back to it since, but it’s been through my mind plenty of times since then. Time travel might not be something I read about all the time, but when I find a good time travel read I’m always happy. To me, this is a great time travel read.
Gwen grew up knowing time travel is real. She knew people in her own family travelled back in time. But she never thought that she’d be the one travelling back. And that’s a plot point that had me hooked right from the beginning.
I’ve read stories about people who knew time travel was real. I’ve read stories about people who discovered they could time travel and had to discover the world as they go. I’ve read The Time Traveler’s Wife, a story about being the one who doesn’t travel and being someone with uncontrolled travel. This remains the only story I can think of where a person is living their life tangential to time travel and is suddenly thrust into the lime light.
On top of that, I like Gier’s writing style (and Anthea Bell’s translation of the book). I like the way the words flow, the way one scene blends into the next. There’s the perfect amount of description for my tastes – not too much that it became boring, and not too little where I couldn’t get myself fully into the world. I can understand why some people argue that there wasn’t a lot of action in this story, but to that I say: of course this isn’t going to be the most action packed read. It’s the first book in a trilogy – they’re almost always slow starts before the action that happens later on.
I enjoy this read for the world building and the setup of characters. For the potential that I see in this world.
If you’re looking for a fast paced action time travel story, this isn’t going to be the world for you. But if you’re looking to enjoy a cozier time travel story full of world building and England through the ages, you might enjoy this read.
Before anything else, I have to bring up the biggest issue I have with the romance in this novel: aren’t Gideon and Gwen related? (Hear me out)
While they (the main cast of the book minus Gwen’s mom) don’t know it yet, Gwen’s parents are Lucy Montrose and Paul de Villiers. Paul’s brother is Falk. Falk is is Gideon’s uncle. While the family tree is not clearly laid out in this book, it says that Falk is his “distant” uncle. The family tree diagram in the book shows Gideon and Paul as different branches from the twin, which further supports the idea that they’re not closely related. But it still bothers me.
I understand that after enough generations it’s not as much inbreeding, but this feels like a very big grey area to me. If I’m being honest, I could have done with this plot point at all. The book could very easily have the same impact and romance without the whole “we’re related” aspect to it.
There’s a chance I didn’t catch this when I read the story the first time. There’s a chance that I caught it but it didn’t bother me so much back when I was 16. But this weird little fact niggling in the back of my mind has me refraining from giving this story a solid 5 stars like I did the first time I read it.
Don’t get me wrong, I truly do love this story. I think Gwen is a great female lead. I like how she’s able to hold her own even when thrust into situations she’s woefully unprepared for. Heck, she saves Gideon’s life on their first mission together. She stands up to Count Saint-Germain. She stands up to her family.
She might not have grown up with fencing lessons or language classes. She might not have been introduced into the secret world of time travel that’s been around her her whole life. But she does have gall. She’s got a kickass attitude and isn’t about to let people walk all over her.
Plus it was great seeing Charlotte and Glenda get what they deserve. Just because they assumed that Charlotte was going to be the one with the time travel gene doesn’t mean they have the right to act like they’re better than everyone else. Charlotte’s haughty attitude really annoyed me, even though I knew Gwen was going to end up being the special one in her family.
Thankfully, Gwen’s immediate family – and her “crazy” aunt Maddie, of course – are much nicer. It’s nice to see that there are people that truly care about Gwen and aren’t all standoffish. Plus Gwen’s best friend, Lesley, is just about the very best kind of friend someone could hope for. Gwen might not be the popular girl at school, the perfect student, the perfect anything, but she’s already surrounded by so much love and positivity that she’s going to be able to do whatever it is she needs to.
While I can’t say that I’ve never read this story before, I can say that I’m looking forward to where the story goes from here. It’s been such a long time, and there have been so many stories between, that I’m not actually sure what happens next. I look forward to rediscovering it, though.