Time travel I’ve always had an interest in it. Is time like a burrito or like string? Can you meet yourself without creating a black hole? What about changing the past? Can time travel be used to change events like Hitler’s birth or stop the bomb from dropping on Hiroshima? What about going back and burying something that will become valuable in the future and then digging it up in your own time? Is that dodgy? So many questions and rules! Most books about time travel that I’ve read have gotten really complicated really fast, and there always seems to be one impossible flaw that makes one lose all suspension of disbelief. I didn’t experience that at all with Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier.
Gwyneth Shepherd’s sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for traveling through time. But unexpectedly, it is Gwyneth, who in the middle of class takes a sudden spin to a different era! Gwyneth must now unearth the mystery of why her mother would lie about her birth date to ward off suspicion about her ability, brush up on her history, and work with Gideon, the time traveler from a similarly gifted family that passes the gene through its male line, and whose presence becomes, in time, less insufferable and more essential. Together, Gwyneth and Gideon journey through time to discover who, in the 18th century and in contemporary London, they can trust.
The book starts off with a mysterious pair and builds in suspense from there. You don’t have to wait a long time to be thrown into the thick of things with Gwyneth. You will discover, as she does, that time travel can actually be kind of a pain, but through it all she is someone you will enjoy rooting for. She’s funny, has the requisite YA best friend who is adorable in her own right and, of course, there is Gideon. He’s not the easiest guy to get along with at first, he’s actually quite brash, but having been prepared for his “duty” in the same ways as Gwyneth’s cousin, he really hasn’t had much practice at being a teenager. Luckily for him he has Gwyneth, who has a lot of experience at being one.
Originally written in German, it was translated into English beautifully by Anthea Bell. It’s a book full of humor, mystery, characters you will love and love to hate. I’ve taken issue with a few “first in a trilogy” books lately that don’t tell a story of its own. I was so pleased that Ruby Red had plenty of mysteries that still need to be solved in the coming books (ho boy, is there! Seriously, some major stuff is going down and there is intrigue flying all over the place!) but that it felt very complete in its own right. I’ve had Ruby Red on my “TBR” shelf for awhile and I’m so glad I finally pulled it off and read it. Now my problem is I’m dying for Sapphire Blue!