In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.
Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them— whether she wants to or not.
Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are playing, treacherous forces threaten to separate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home . . . forever
If he thought he was going to grab her, he was going to get every last ounce of New York City she possessed. Etta swung her head around, searching for something sharp.
Whoa! Whoa! Trust me when I say that this book was all sorts of surprising. You might have recalled that last week, I read Bracken’s Darkest Minds and hated it, to say the least. I’m always willing to give the author another chance, but to be honest, I didn’t have high hopes. That’s not to mention the blurb being confusing and long-winded as shit. And the premise involves time travel, which is something that’s horrifying easy to fuck up in the hands of a poor writer.
But I liked this book – a lot! The first chapter was slow, but it quickly drew in my interest once I met the heroine, Etta.
Ignore the blurb. The book is about a violinist who somehow gets pulled back in time, turns out she’s a time traveler who doesn’t know it. Here’s what I loved about the book. The main character is fucking awesome. There is a very interesting relationship between the other female in the book, a strong girl in her own right. Despite the fact that they dislike each other, both girls in the book are respectable, fierce girls in their own right, and I can’t tell you how few YA books have that.
She drew the knife up, her chest heaving, body trembling as she pressed it against the other girl’s neck. Instinct overrode logic, compassion, patience. The ugliness that poured through her veins was unfamiliar and frightening.
Sophia stared up at her, dark eyes widening just a fraction. Then she clucked her tongue impatiently and leaned forward into the blade, until a droplet of blood welled up at the tip.
Before Etta could stumble back, Sophia wrapped her hand around hers, pulling it back a fraction of a centimeter from her throat. Her dark eyes burned with a wild kind of approval. Like Etta had passed an unspoken test.
Etta could feel Sophia’s pulse flutter, light and warm, as the girl drew their hands toward her own throat again, skimming the exposed flesh.
“Here,” she said, “right here. They’ll bleed out like a stuck pig before they can squeal, and you’ll be able to get away. Remember that.”
“They won’t expect it from you,” she continued, “and, fool that I am, I didn’t either. Good for you. I like a fighter. But it won’t do you much good against me.”
GIRL POWER, YEAH!
To be honest, when we met Etta for the first time, I didn’t have high hopes. Etta is a pale, pale blonde. A violinist. Sheltered, with a successful mom. I fully expected her to be a weak, lily-livered Mary Sue, and I was wrong. She doesn’t mention her own appearance, there is no declaration of “Oh, I’m so ugly, and I’m so clumsy” shit. Etta is an highly skilled violinist, dedicated to her craft. She has given up everything she loved so she could be better, and the moment that she won me over was when she exploded in anger at the insinuation that she was not good enough.
“You don’t think I’m good enough, do you?”
“No, duck, no—”
“Don’t call me that!” Etta said, backing out of the office. “Do you realize I don’t even have a friend left? You told me I needed to focus if I wanted my debut. I gave it all up! I don’t have anything else!”
“Etta—Henrietta,” Alice tried, but Etta was past the point of listening, of caring what either of them had to say.
“I’m playing,” she told her instructor, “tonight, and at the debut. I don’t care what you think, or if you believe in me—I believe in myself, and there is literally nothing in this world that can keep me from playing.”
How do you not love a girl with that kind of spirit?!
And indeed, her spirit, and her persistence shows throughout the rest of the book. She is a fish out of water – I mean, hello, imagine being thrown back in time to 1776 – but she deals with it surprisingly well, and realistically well. She’s a fighter…she doesn’t give up.
You can do this.
Her mom’s words floated through her mind. Etta can handle this.
She could. She would.
I believed her. I believed her actions, I believed her thoughts. The book – and the time traveling – felt natural.
I thought the details of time travel, down to the minutiae of dress (and the fact that people seriously stank back then), was well done, and the mechanics of time travel is vague enough to not strangle itself with its own rope.
“The best way to explain this is to think of the timeline as a kind of…constant, roaring stream. Its path is set, but we create ripples by jumping in and out. Time corrects itself the best it can to keep later events consistent. But if a small change snowballs into a much larger one, or if a traveler’s actions are devastating enough, it can actually shift the flow of the timeline, thereby changing the shape of the future from that point on.”
The romance is not overwhelming, furthermore, the love interest is part black; given the distinct lack of people of color within YA literature, needless to say, I approve.
The book is not perfect. It rambles in parts, but it was well-written, and kept my interest. And the main character is really, REALLY awesome.