Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Into the Dim (book review)

Title: Into the Dim
Author: Janet B. Taylor
Publication: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 2016
Genre: YA Time travel

Plot: Hope Walton is still devastated from losing her mother when her stepfather ships her to Scotland to visit an unknown aunt while he vacations with his new girlfriend. Christopher Manor is an imposing 5-6 story mansion, full of secrets, and before Hope even meets her Aunt Lucinda, she has is befriended by the housekeeper’s granddaughter Phoebe (good), meets a handsome young stranger in the Scottish countryside (good) who is taking pictures of her (bad), and found a portal in her aunt’s basement that takes her back in time to Eleanor of Aquitaine’s London (dangerous). Soon Hope begins to learn the truth about her mother’s family and finds out her mother isn’t dead but is trapped in the 12th century. Hope, her new friend Phoebe, and Phoebe’s critical brother Collum need to rescue Sarah Walton but they only have 72 hours before their time travel window will expire...
Audience: Fans of time travel and YA fiction

What I liked: Feisty orphans or quasi-orphans, mysterious mansions, quests back in time, a handsome hero who might be the villain – yes, this is a fun, fast-paced, and entertaining book just waiting for a sequel. I think what caught my eye initially was a Diana Gabaldon quote but the book itself was hard to put down. Hope is an intriguing heroine: at times brave (or foolhardy), at times clueless, and very human, despite the unnerving situation in which she finds herself and the adventures that follow. Hope’s mother never encouraged her to spend time with peers but survival in the 12th century requires loyal friends and, to her surprise, Hope becomes a good friend. She is no Claire Randall but she doesn’t have to be. The book is full of twists and turns, and readers like me who loved A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver will enjoy the part Eleanor of Aquitaine plays in this story. There is just enough romance to be appealing without overshadowing Hope’s emergence from her mother’s shadow and coming of age as scion of a strong family, but it’s the 12th century setting that Taylor does best.
I like this cover better than the one HMH chose
What I disliked: The book has a very rushed feel despite its 425 pages and there is a lot of information that Hope and the reader don’t know and have to wait to find out, which makes the plot hard to follow at times. At other points, the plot developments were fairly predictable although the significance of Hope’s health issues was never fully explained. Just a device so she would be homeschooled and friendless, and have no options except to visit her aunt? Hope also has a tendency to go from 0 to 70 mph – it wasn’t completely convincing that she could morph so quickly from the shell-shocked girl who mourned her mother for seven months and could barely get on a plane to reckless 12th century adventuress. However, what would a fantasy be without some suspension of disbelief?
Source: I got this from the Boston Public Library.  4/5 stars.


Unknown said...

Hi - I like feisty orphans, too. That would intrigue me and I imagine it intrigues many YA readers. I was surprised when you said the book had a rushed feel, yet it was over 400 pages. Usually, that's enough space for the author to satisfy plot and character needs.
@dino0726 from 
FictionZeal - Impartial, Straightforward Fiction Book Reviews

CLM said...

Exactly! I guess it was because there was so much information being conveyed/world building etc., or perhaps it was just me. Have you read it yet? Looks like our tastes are similar - I have subscribed to your blog.