Monday, 29 February 2016

Into the Dim

Note: Review updated (after original review) June 29, 2017

Author: Janet B Taylor
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Time Travel
Type: e-book
Series: #1 in the Into the Dim series
Source: NetGalley
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
First Published: March 1, 2016
First Line: "Everyone in town knew the coffin was empty."

Book Description from GoodReads: When fragile, sixteen-year-old Hope Walton loses her mom to an earthquake overseas, her secluded world crumbles. Agreeing to spend the summer in Scotland, Hope discovers that her mother was more than a brilliant academic, but also a member of a secret society of time travelers. Trapped in the twelfth century in the age of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Hope has seventy-two hours to rescue her mother and get back to their own time. Along the way, her path collides with that of a mysterious boy who could be vital to her mission . . . or the key to Hope’s undoing.   Addictive, romantic, and rich with historical detail, Into the Dim is an Outlander for teens.

My Review: When I read the book description which likened Into the Dim to 'Outlander for teens' I was intrigued ... and a little wary.  Those are some big literary shoes to fill.  After reading the book I'm not so sure I'd agree with that comparison since the only things that are similar to Outlander are the Scottish setting and time travel.  But I will say that I enjoyed it very, very much based on its own merit.

Into the Dim had a bit of everything -- interesting and diverse characters, many intense action scenes, secret societies, great settings - past and present, an interesting premise and twists upon twists!  Taylor's vision of time travel, which plays an integral part of the story line, had its own unique spin and promises many different options for future story lines.

Taylor also included many historical details and some of her own invented historical connections.  I liked the idea of Tesla's inventions being a major part of the ability to time travel as well as the addition of historical figures such as Eleanor of Aquitaine, a fierce queen to be sure.  There are also vivid images of life in the 12th century with its ghastly lack of hygiene, views of women, treatment of Jews and even the foods they ate.  It was evident that Taylor did her homework in researching the era.

The characters were varied and each added quite a bit to the plot.  Hope came off as a believable teen who is awkward, unsure of herself and just wanting to fit in and be accepted especially after the death of her mother.  She's wicked smart (her eidetic memory is pretty cool) and strong when she needs to be even though sometimes her phobias are quite paralyzing.

I loved that the female characters are quite central to the plot.  Taylor includes many strong women including Eleanor of Aquitaine, a wonderfully wicked villain, a feisty kick-butt friend in Phoebe and a strong Jewish girl who holds her own in a very dangerous time.  The menfolk aren't forgotten and play an integral role and there's even a wee inkling of a love triangle but I'm glad it wasn't addressed in this book.

I can't say enough about this book.  I read it in two days and had a hard time putting it down. There was action right up until the very end where some great secrets are revealed.  The ending left me feeling like I wanted to read more but not so much of a cliff hanger that I was frustrated which I appreciated since now I'll have to wait quite awhile for the next book. 

Highly recommended.

My Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Review 2.0 - June 29, 2017: I love it when I re-read a book that I really enjoyed and that feeling still holds. And even when I still have a vague recollection I still feel that excitement to see how things will pan out.  That's how I felt when I recently re-read Into the Dim in June 2017 to get ready for the second book in the series, Sparks of Light, which is out in early August 2017. 

Once again Taylor transported me into her world with interesting characters, settings and her unique spin on time travel. Strong female characters and some great twists continue to make this one of my all-time favourite Middle School reads. 

I highly recommend this series for Middle School readers and up. It's history, fantasy, action and a wee bit of mystery.

Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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