Book reviews / Science Fiction

Book review: The Psychology of Time Travel

Okay, the most delightful full thing about this novel, is that it fully embraces something that really annoys me about all other time-travel novels. That thing is…visiting yourself.

I MEAN WHO WOULDN’T. If you’re already a time traveller, surely you wouldn’t be surprised to see your time travelling self. If you’re already psychological sound enough to go to different times and see people long dead or not yet born, surely seeing yourself wouldn’t throw you. SO YES. Brilliant. Thank you Kate Mascarenhas, that has bothered me SO OFTEN. I loved the slang that the time travellers invented when talking about themselves and also that they would annoy themselves. SO BRILLIANT.

Okay, mild rant over. What a delightful book! It was a time-traveller who-dunnit. It starts with the discovery of time travel by four women (yesssss) Barbara, Margaret, Lucille and Grace. However, very soon we are in 2018 where a young woman named Odette discovers the body of someone who has been murdered. The book then weaves back and forth through time, giving us glimpses into the motivations of characters and what might have led to the murder of the mysterious woman.

It took me a couple of times to get into it properly (I think I was a bit knackered), so I recommend reading the first 50 pages in one go, as there are a lot of characters and a lot of flipping back and forth through time. I then basically read it in three chunks, which really helped keep all the timelines and people straight. There are only a couple of tiny things that bothered me, but they fit in with the wider weird governance of the Conclave, that I let it slide. I mean, time travel would totally be weird right, so not to expect some sort of oddness would be silly.

All the characters are great (and basically all women!) and I loved the weirdness of time travellers and non-time-travellers. Barbara was so sweet! Odette was so determined! Ruby was so focussed! They are all such wonderful, lovely and interesting characters. They all have their own motivations and foibles that set them all apart. The men were basically love interests, in a hilarious inversion of science fiction tropes.  Aside from having lots of women there were other kids of diversity as well, which is always appreciated.

The plotting and story were perfect, with all the pieces starting to come together near the end that I could not put it down. Especially because of the time travel elements, you know some of what is happening but not the resolution to the story. I can’t say much more without ruining the whole bloody thing.

Anyway, as you can tell, I really enjoyed it. It was fun. It’s brought something new and delightful to the time travel genre, what a brilliant debut novel.

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