Genres: Historical, Science Fiction, Steampunk
Series: Map of Time #1
Published by Atria on 6/5/2012
Also by this author: The Map of the Sky
Characters real and imaginary come vividly to life in this whimsical triple play of intertwined plots, in which a skeptical H. G. Wells is called upon to investigate purported incidents of time travel and to save lives and literary classics, including Dracula and The Time Machine, from being wiped from existence.
What happens if we change history?
Félix J. Palma explores this provocative question, weaving a historical fantasy as imaginative as it is exciting—a story full of love and adventure that transports readers from a haunting setting in Victorian London to a magical reality where centuries collide and a writer’s mind seems to pull at all the strings.
Ohmygoodness did I ever LOVE this book! I know it’s early in the year, but this may be a Top Ten Read of 2015. My aunt recommended this to me; I’m so lucky to have people in my life to introduce me to such great books! It’s got an author as a character (H.G. Wells no less!), time travel, Victorian England…. love it!
The Map of Time is told in three parts–or episodes–that all come together beautifully in the end. It felt like Felix J. Palma was conducting a gorgeous, moving symphony of a story. He was able to skillfully gather up and weave together all the disparate moving parts and characters at the end to give the reader a conclusive, satisfying, and exciting ending. That, my friends, is talent.
I want to go ahead an reassure you that The Map of Time never felt confusing to me. The cast of characters was definitely manageable, especially considering the length of the book and it’s subject matter. The majority of the first part of the book is told from the point of a young man named Andrew; the majority of the second part is told from the point of view of a young lady named Claire; and the majority of the third part of the book is told from the point of view of the author H.G. Wells. There is also an omniscient, unnamed narrator who helps fill in gaps and provide the reader with extra insight. I loved that there were a few points where the omniscient narrator introduced a character by name, only to immediately tell the reader that it’s not necessary to remember them; they only play a bit part in the larger story. Whenever a plot point or a character were influential to the story, the author found a way for the narrator to subtly “underline” them.
The Map of Time may be a lengthy tome (656 pages!) with a sometimes-confusing subject matter (time travel), but I flew through it and felt like it ended too soon. I’m so glad that it’s the start of a trilogy! I began recommending it to other book-loving friends before I’d even finished it myself. In the first part, Andrew is a devastated young man. He’s contemplating ending his life after the tragic death of his beloved. His cousin swoops in and takes him to H.G. Wells, who has just published The Time Machine and who, they believe, may have an actual time machine that Andrew can use to go back in time and save his love’s life. In the second part, Claire is a young lady who is disillusioned with Victorian England. She signs up for an expedition to the future to escape the pressure to get married. She believes that life will be better for a woman in the year 2000. In the final part of the book, H.G. Wells himself is confronted by a time travel dilemma; and his choice could have rather large ripple effects on history. It’s not all smoke and mirrors; every time a character time travels or is confronted by a time traveler, Mr. Palma gives explanations as to how it was possible. He even preemptively answered questions that I hadn’t even considered! There are no plot holes that I could find! I also found it all very accessible. I’m a library worker, not a scientist, and I didn’t have any trouble keeping up with the action and explanations.
I haven’t read much steampunk in the past, but The Map of Time has peaked my interest. I’ve already requested the sequel, The Map of the Sky, from my library!