When Kate Pierce-Keller’s grandmother gives her a strange blue medallion and speaks of time travel, sixteen-year-old Kate assumes the old woman is delusional. But it all becomes horrifyingly real when a murder in the past destroys the foundation of Kate’s present-day life. Suddenly, that medallion is the only thing protecting Kate from blinking out of existence.
Kate learns that the 1893 killing is part of something much more sinister, and her genetic ability to time travel makes Kate the only one who can fix the future. Risking everything, she travels back in time to the Chicago World’s Fair to try to prevent the murder and the chain of events that follows.
Changing the timeline comes with a personal cost—if Kate succeeds, the boy she loves will have no memory of her existence. And regardless of her motives, does Kate have the right to manipulate the fate of the entire world?
I really, really enjoyed this book. There were a couple of character interactions that gave me hang-ups that I’ll talk about in a moment, but plot-wise, this book is surprisingly airtight.
I say “surprisingly” because when you’re dealing with multiple timelines that impact multiple characters, you’d expect to encounter a plot hole or two. The author manages to address them all and provide an explanation for each. While this gets a little exposition-heavy at times, the concepts were fascinating to me and the explanations were often rooted in character interaction. So overall, I thought it was pretty wonderfully done.
The characters were all strong, and teenaged Kate served as a nice narrator for this story. I enjoyed watching her relationship with her grandmother Katherine unfold, along with the friendship she builds with Katherine’s assistant, Connor.
Then there’s the matter of romance. This was where my hang-ups came into play.
Kate has two prospective love interests, and I found the initial interactions jarring. This gets a bit spoilery, so if you’d like to reveal my thoughts on that, highlight this next section. It’s a bit long so this will look weird aesthetically, but this is my current solution.
With Kiernan, there’s the matter of him kissing her right off the bat without them having any previous interaction (alternate timelines aside), and at a stage where she’s clearly quite a bit younger than he is. She’s 16, almost 17, and he’s… probably early 20’s at that point?. It’s juuuuuust creepy enough to make me not okay with it. Then through timeline jumping, Kate meets a much younger Kiernan, and while their interactions are innocent enough, Kate’s aunt Prudence has a very… predatory view of Kiernan. Once again, super creepy, even though it’s clearly stated that nothing happens between them until Keirnan is older and Prudence is closer to his age. Timeline hopping!
It sounds more gimmicky than it is, but it’s still something I never quite separated from the creepy, predator vibe. I’m not sure I was supposed to in the case of Prudence and Kiernan as Kate herself is disturbed by it, but the later Kate/Kiernan interactions—sweet as they were— were still a bit tainted by that first meeting.
Then there’s Trey.
What a wonderfully supportive young man. Who is just waaaay too willing to go along with Kate’s crazy time traveling story from the start.
I really liked the relationship between Trey and Kate as it developed, but it’s a very fast burn and their initial interaction is jarring to me. It falls into the trap of a man doing anything for a woman he finds attractive, and I’ve grown quite tired of that trope. It’s unrealistic. People definitely go to great lengths for the ones they love, but if you first meet an attractive stranger and they decide to spill their entire time-twisted, magic medallion story to you, you’re first thought is probably going to be of whichever emergency response team is closest to your location, not something along the lines of, “Someday, our grandkids are going to love this story!” It was just… too much.
In spite of those hitches, I still really enjoyed the novel. I loved the plot and the characters overall, and… I may have just purchased not only the second and third books in the series, but also two bridge novellas that follow other characters and provide more information.
Sometimes, you just gotta dive right in.