The Psychology of Time Travel

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 19 Sep 2018

Member Reviews

This was a brilliantly refreshing and original take on the idea of time travel and what it does to the mind. A standout in a crowded genre.
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I received a complimentary copy of The Psychology of Time Travel from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

This book is fascinating and so dynamic. It leaps from time period to time period, from person to person, and has created a whole new vocabulary for time travellers (in case this puts anybody off I should be clear that all the words make sense without being explained so this does not add confusion to the book). 

The premise is that in 1967 four scientists, Margaret, Lucille, Grace and Beatrice (Bee), invent time travel but it pushes one into a public breakdown. Then it jumps to 2017, Bee has been shut out of the hugely successful time travel programme since her breakdown but receives a message from the future about the mysterious death of an old lady a year in the future. Her granddaughter Ruby is determined to find out what’s going on and to protect her grandmother at all costs. Then in 2018, a young woman, Odette, discovers a grisly death and is so haunted by it she must investigate. The story weaves between these time periods. It looks at what it would be like to live a non-linear life – there are the difficulties of being in a relationship where one person has all the knowledge of what is to come and the other doesn’t. There is an inevitability to everything – what would it be like to meet someone knowing that you marry them in the future? How can a relationship develop when all spontaneity or feelings of autonomy are gone? And there is the even darker question, if you could go back to see your departed loved ones whenever you chose what would it do to your attitude of death? Would you lose all respect for life? Would anybody’s death but your own be important? Your death would be the only one that would seem permanent to you. What would it do to your sense of your own importance? 

The story is compellingly written and the beginning of each chapter labelled with date and characters to avoid any confusion from the jumping time periods. I highly recommend this.
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The Psychology of Time Travel is a sci-fi book mixed with mystery, where we follow the four ladies that worked on a program to create the first ever time machine.
Their story is told through multi perspectives and through different timelines. The book starts in 1967, with the first time travel, and continues 50 years later to an era when time travel has become a big business.

I really enjoyed the combination of sci-fi and mystery in this book. We keep jumping from a timeline/character to the other, and I thought this gave the story a enjoyable pace.
The author chose to focus more on the impact that time travel would have on the minds of the travelers and the psychological effects that this would have on them, which was a very interesting point.

The only drawback would be that, even though the names and dates were stated at the beginning of each chapter, it could become quite confusing at some point, as some characters/timelines would be similar.

I would still highly recommend this book and I will definitely read more from this author in the future.
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The Psychology of Time Travel begins in 1967 when four women manage to develop a way to travel through time. There are a few rules that seem to be unyielding; you can only travel to places where the machine has been built and is working, so you are unable to travel back past 1967, but there can be more than one version of yourself in any given time period. The book is told through multiple female voices, across a number of time periods, and encompasses many different genres such as time travel, light sci-fi, murder mystery and psychological but the story fits together like a well thought out jigsaw puzzle.

The women who create the time travel machine are all very distinct from each other, but their skills are complimentary. Out of the four (generally known as Pioneers), we mainly follow Barbara, known to everyone as Bee. Bee is a rather tragic character, as it is her research and resolve that allows the experiment to create time travel succeed, unfortunately she suffers from a side effect of time travel soon after the first jump into the near future. Bee is then left out of future achievements of what becomes known as the Conclave, but Bee never gives up hope that she will be able to rejoin her friends one day.

Of the other Pioneers, Margaret is the most driven to make sure that time travel is a success. Margaret is the head of the Conclave and is very strict about what will be tolerated, she is one of the most unlikeable characters in the novel as she can’t tolerate embarrassment and this is how she views Bee. Then there is the enigmatic Grace, who seems to do the most time travelling being seen in many future decades, Grace seems to be the most playful out of the group. Last, there is Lucille, who is quieter than the others feeling that they have treated Bee poorly and looking at ways that she could still be included.

We also follow two other characters more fully in 2017-18. First, we meet Ruby, who is Bee’s granddaughter and a therapist. Ruby gets caught up trying to help Bee become part of the Conclave. Ruby starts tracking one of the Pioneer’s to get more information on what really happened to Bee and was there anything that could be done for her. As Ruby starts to uncover more information about the Conclave she finds herself becoming integral to the events in the story. The other character is Odette, who is the first person at a scene of an impossible murder. Odette has a mind that needs to know why things happen, and however much she tries to move on from that event, she knows she needs to find out how and why this happened.

The book also deals with different views of mental health and how people react to it, creating shame where there is no need, due to a lack of understanding. The book shows that there needs to be a willingness to try and understand how time travel may affect people differently, rather than excluding people because it is easier to do so. In some ways, this also reflects how the Conclave is run and how it deals with people it sees as a problem. Which also makes for an interesting dynamic as time travel desensitises you from reality and the present, as you can meet your older and younger selves in your travels. It really is a case of what would you do if you knew the future? Especially if the knowledge of your actions is closely protected by a secretive organisation.

I found it really interesting to see mini case studies of other female time travellers, which never detracted from the main storyline. I felt it allowed more layers to be added to the story, and there was a good pay off as you saw how these stories fit within the overall storyline and how they affected the main characters over a longer period of time. The chapters are really compelling and vary in length, which means you have to pay close attention as there are lots of little scenes that could easily be missed or overlooked that might turn out to be more significant later on.

I found The Psychology of Time Travel to be really engaging and really enjoyed following the different characters around as they navigate not only time but relationships. I really enjoyed how the book was full of hidden agendas, as well as hidden lives. Especially as the story revolved around what seems like an unsolvable murder. The Psychology of Time Travel is a great story, that is really tightly written with nothing being wasted, it drives you to find out what happens next and wonder if all of your questions will be answered by the end.
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I thought it was a interesting read but not sure I overly enjoyed it. I felt like the story went off in weird directions at times and I felt the book ending wasn’t great.
A unique read never the less
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The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas (review copy from Head of Zeus) is an exciting and fresh take on time travel.  It's hard to tell a good time travel story.  It's far too easy to get caught in grandfather paradoxes or the desire to change the course of world events.  But rather than focus on the impact of time travel on the world around us, Kate Mascarenhas shows us the impact of the technology on the time travellers themselves.  How are you affected when you know that events are fixed no matter what you seek to do?  This is the story of the four women who invented the technology enabling time travel, and the rivalries between them. 

The wonderful Hidden Figures-style opening to the novel shows us four women in rural Cumbria in 1967 on the verge of inventing time travel.  They are close friends, working in an isolated spot with limited resources.  But the group starts to break apart when one of the four, Barbara, suffers a breakdown on live television as they announce their amazing invention.  She has suffered the temporal equivalent of jetlag, after spending too long time travelling in a way that has upset her circadian rhythms.  Fast-forward 50 years, and Barbara's grand-daughter Ruby is sent a news clipping from the future about the mysterious death of an unidentified woman in the basement of London's Toy Museum.  Ruby is intrigued and attempts to solve this curious locked-room mystery.

This novel is a novel of fantastic strengths.  The cast is almost-entirely women, with men pushed to the periphery in supporting parts or existing only as absences.  It features a wonderful queer romance.  There is art inspired by time travel, including anomalous items that only exist in time loops.  Time travellers create their own jargon.  And it is great on a very British style of bureaucracy.  Of course the Government would set up an agency to manage time travel, with its own currency, judicial system, the use of technology to help the future by preventing extinction events, and the exploration of marketing opportunities by selling goods from the future in the present.

But where this novel really shines is in the psychology its title foregrounds.  People behave differently when they know they can travel through time and their actions are largely irrelevant.  They become hardened to death because it is inevitable, and grief has less meaning when you can travel back in time to visit a person while they are still alive.  Risk-taking behaviours increase, because when one knows the date and time of one's own death there is no peril.  And infidelity is common when a person is disconnected from their own timeline and the significance of those emotional connections decreases.  

This is a fantastically intriguing puzzle box of a novel, with a very satisfying payoff.

Goodreads rating: 4*
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This was the first book I've read by Kate Mascarenhas but it won't be the last. Great flow to the book and the characters were well written.
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I struggled with this book. The start of the book just didn’t come over as convincing and although I liked the characters but  I had to put it aside for a while as I couldn’t get into it.  I got to the end but only with effort.
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A fascinating, thought provoking thriller about time travel, murder and a conspiracy that threatens to explode through time.

Four female scientists invent a time machine in 1967. They can only travel from this point in time, back and forward at will. When the initial trip is made by all four women the consequences are unknown and the whole project is put at risk when one of the women suffers a very public breakdown. Labelled as a liability and shunned by the group she tries to rebuild her life as best she can but always the thrill of time travel stays with her and as we revisit her fifty years later she is filled with the desire for one final trip. But the consequences of messing with the fragile fabric of time can be catastrophic and can set in motion destructive and dangerous events.

Visiting three time different periods in time, Kate Mascarenhas guides us expertly through the story and not once did I feel disorientated or unenjoyably lost. There is an element of trying to fit the pieces together but that is one of the things I love about a thriller, trying to work out the conclusion from the clues scattered throughout as the story builds up to the culmination of the (presumably) murdered women discovered by Odette in 2018.

This is a thriller unlike anything I have read before and I found it fascinating.
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This book had an interesting premise. Unfortunately it did not stand out alongside the other time travel books currently in the market. Unfortunately it was not what I expected it to be.
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A book that started a little on a rocky road for me, due to the writing style that I found at first fairly abrupt (too many short sentences stuck together), but that fortunately grew on me quite fast after the first few chapters.

The story doesn’t deal much with the science aspect of time travel, which in itself was rather wishy-washy—readers looking for ‘believable’ hard science won’t find it here. And I admit it rubbed me the wrong way at first, but I kept telling myself that when it came to this specific book, it wasn’t the important point here. The interest of “The Psychology of Time Travel” lies, like the title clearly hints at, in the characters’ psyches and relationships, in how the capability of travelling in different time periods affects them, in good and bath ways. All this articulated around a mystery and an investigation, following the discovery of a dead woman in a locked room.

Through the eyes of several characters, including the four pioneers of time travel and some of their descendants, we get to explore the various effects that going back and forth in time can have on human beings as well as on events. Here, the question of paradox, for starters, is tackled in the way events cannot be altered, even should a person go back in time several times to try and prevent it; as a result, time investigations do not aim at preventing a murder, for instance, but at making sure that enough clues can be gathered in advance so as to be able to convict the criminal. Following a similar logic, any person can also meet themselves in the past or future without causing the fabric of time to rip, which gives rise to interesting possibilities, such as dancing a ballet with several of one’s selves, having one’s older selves one’s (re)attend one’s own wedding, or even having sex with oneself.

With some characters going back and forth in times, it was sometimes a little difficult to properly follow the flow of the story; however, dates and names being provided at the beginning of each chapter help to quickly find one’s bearing again after the first moments of wondering who’s doing what, and when. The more the story progresses, the clearer it becomes, and there’s no confusion left at the end as to ‘whodunnit’ and why.

Exploring time travel-related mental health problems was definitely interesting, too. Due to one of the founders, Barbara, collapsing during the first live interview the scientists gave in 1967, her ex-colleagues, who kept forging onwards and created the Time Travel Conclave, adopted a hard stance when it came to psychological issues—especially Margaret, who immediately took the reins. On top of weeding out people who experienced some issues only once, for instance (such as situational depression), the Conclave paved the way for ruthless and dehumanising ‘tests’ and ‘hazing’, such as forcing a new recruit to announce to a person that their parent was about to die; this, and other acts, were meant to inure them to feelings and fear of death, so that the travellers wouldn’t develop issues after seeing their beloved ones die, then meeting them in the past, or conversely. This approach was both completely inhuman but also fascinating, in a way, because there’s no denying that such events -would- potentially traumatise a person (and repeatedly)—nor that people are able to behave in such callous ways, all the more when enabled through an organisation (see the Stanford Prison Experiment and the likes). The author explored several possibilities, such as that of an anorexic traveller who could only eat if going back to on a specific day in the past. It’s very likely triggering, or bordering on it—but nonetheless a different approach to the potential side-effects of time travel, veering away from the more usual ‘grandfather’s paradox.

It could probably have gone even further and deeper than that, too; so it’s a bid too bad it didn’t.

Where the novel lacked for me (and where it wasn’t helped by the writing style either) was in characterisation. I felt that I didn’t get to properly know most of the characters, the kind of people they were, and the way they built their relationships. Probably the only relationship that made sense was that of Bee and Ruby. The problem here came mainly, I think, from the fact that events couldn’t be changed, so whenever someone travelled in the future and saw that they were going to be in a relationship with someone, then back in the present, the relation just happened because that’s how it was meant to be—we don’t see it develop. (Also, due to that ‘fated’ approach, the Conclave’s judiciary system also made… uhm… well it did make some kind of sense, but also not so much at all.)

Conclusion: 3 stars.
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As time travel stories go this one had a plethora of delicious ingredients. Lots of strong female characters. Diversity of representation. A bittersweet same-sex romance. A murder mystery. Touching family relationships. And, obviously, time travel. It is extremely well constructed and engages from first to last. It requires only the gentlest of mental gymnastics to get your head around the concepts, paradoxes and impossibilities and rewards the reader with many engrossing twists and turns. It also explores the psychology effect of time travel and how the travellers come to regard death when they live a life that renders it virtually obsolete. 
A really great read. Would love it if Odette went on to be a time travelling detective in an ongoing series!
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My all-time favourite TV show is Doctor Who so the concept of time travel is rather dear to my heart. The ability to explore anywhere or when is just so tempting.  Its more recent regenerations have now explored the complications that time travel can throw up especially upon your own life. It’s also very hard not to notice alterative history becoming a key theme be that the dystopia of the Handmaid’s Tale or the weird alterative universes in TV shows like Fringe. In this smart and simply gorgeous novel Kate Mascarenhas delivers a brilliant tale of four women who changed the world and then the consequences of their actions that span time and all the highs and lows of being human.

In 1967 four exceptionally gifted scientists have a plan for time travel and have attracted funding for the military and other parties. Eventually they successfully transport Patrick Troughton (the bunny not the actor) a few hours into the future.  Very quickly the four geniuses experiment sending themselves to meet their future selves. Funding beckons and these four are going to be the equivalent of the moon landing astronauts but then during their first live BBC interview Barbara has a nervous breakdown. Her colleagues Margaret, Grace and Lucille all decide that although she is recovering, she cannot be involved any further in their future work to aid her recovery and not bring any future public disdain on their own work.

Margaret becomes the head of the time travelling business known as The Conclave that stretches at least 300 years into the future; Grace is a celebrated artist and time traveller while Lucille manages the flow of information from the future into the past and investigate crime. This is a universe where no reset button gets pressed – time travel is an accepted part of life for fifty years. Crimes are investigated; foods from the future traded and plant life saved from extinction. Families understand they may meet their children as adults. There are a wholeweb of time travellers passing within and beyond their own timestreams trading love, ideas and jokes. While the remaining three pioneers move into fame and fortune Barbara marries and has only revealed to her only grandchild Ruby her illustrious past. Which is just when we are told of a mysterious death six months in the future where an unnamed woman is killed in a lock room.

 Lets just start off by saying this is one of those tales that just sucks you in. These four women are competent, respected and assured in their beliefs and they succeed. The early part of the novel is very much your standard pioneering scientists in the lab, and it helps they’re such a good blend from upper class Margaret, focused Barbara, working-class Grace and the well-balanced Lucille. That moment of triumph and then the despair as we see what happen to Barbara really takes you inside the heart of the tale. The brilliance of the novel is that the next fifty years are then told in a weaving selection of tales from past, present and future (out of sequence) working out how these characters got to their final dynamic.

The core of the plot is the mystery as to which woman has been murdered and by whom? We have four very bright central characters who have had huge impacts on each other; not all of which have been positive. Alongside them we have a range of women (and this novel is filled with women in key roles and no one questions why they have these roles0 who across various time periods play key roles supporting the four from Ruby wanting to piece her Gran’s life together to Odette a woman who when she discovered the body as part of her shift at a museum finds she is understandably haunted and ants to understand what caused this trauma. We also see the lives of the Conclave Agents especially Fay who we meet at times; out of order, ranging as a new eager agent to one jaundiced by the decisions and tasks she has done for the greater good. It’s a very very good mystery and the way that clues from the future start to influence the investigations of the past make this a unique investigation!

But added to crime, science fiction and alternate history and its biggest success is the study of how humans will react to time travel and trauma. The ability to see your future self; meet your family in the past and explore humanity’s highs and lows is intoxicating and possibly means the recruits are more towards the more extreme sides of humanity.  Several of their hazing rituals for new agents are horrifying and cruel they see those of us in linear time as limited. Is that just humanity; time travel’s psychological impact or possibly the result of those in charge creating a cold corporate culture? You could easily see this as commentary for other industries that have had huge impacts on the lives of mortals. But I also liked that the lives of the non-time travellers such as Ruby and Odette are equally fascinating. There is a reminder that time travel can be an emotional experience for us not simply a mechanical one. Odette is trapped in her memories discovering the grisly crime scene and Ruby is cut off from living her life until she meets a time travel who she tentatively wants to start a relationship with (provided they can be trusted). Mascarenhas can very easily move the reader from warm family comedy to horror to romance in just a few pages and considering this is not a giant tome of a story its pacing is excellent. 

I am so glad I read this book. I think if you enjoy the work of Claire North and particularly The Fifteen Lives of Harry August, I think you’ll really enjoy it. Mascarenhas is clearly a talented author who I am going to be watching for future novels with huge interest.  If I read many more books as good as this in 2019 then we are in for an exceptional year.

https://www.runalongtheshelves.net/chaos2019/2019/2/9/the-pyschology-of-time-travel-by-kate-mascarenhas
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5 Stars

Recommended for anyone interested in the concept of time travel

In the year 1967, four pioneers invent a time travel machine and begin to create rules and rights for a brand-new world. In 2017, a young therapist attempts to unravel the history of her grandmother, who was ostracised by the time travel community. And in 2018, a student attempts to solve a confusing case where an old woman appears to have been shot in a locked room on her own. ‘The Psychology of Time Travel’ takes these three narratives and intertwines them to create an excellent tale of mystery, romance and deep reflection upon some of the problems travelling through time could cause.

One of my favourite things about this book was the comprehensiveness with which it analyses the idea of time travel. It is a popular concept in science fiction novels, yet often introduced with little explanation of the rules and obvious contradictions that arise. This book chooses to focus heavily on these contradictions, such as meeting future and past versions of oneself, dealing with death and romance and retrieving technology and knowledge from the future. Introduction of time travel ‘lingo’ also makes the world feel more real and the concepts less alien. By the end of the book the concept of time travel seems plausible and explored fully; yet perhaps the greatest achievement of this novel is that the explanations are spread out and tied into the story so that it never feels tedious nor bogged down with exposition.

The story itself is another achievement of the book. The book uses an almost entirely female cast yet it doesn’t feel forced nor does it stray into ‘girl power’ territory with flawless female icons. All of the characters are very believable and perhaps one criticism could be the length of the book; it is fairly short and I felt there were many interesting secondary characters that I would love to learn more about. This is particularly key in the first chapters, when the actual invention of time travel is breezed through fairly quickly.

As with any time travel book, the multitude of different characters and timelines can make the book slightly confusing and I would highly recommend some sort of map or character list as one reads the book. The characters are all intertwined which ties the book together nicely but again can make it tough to keep track of who knows what as the mystery progresses. The chapters are very short and sequentially focus on the three different storylines, which can be annoying when you really want to know about one storyline in particular. The time travel also means we know the conclusion of the story long before it actually occurs but I would argue it is satisfying enough to not be a huge issue!

Overall I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the idea of time travel; the number of new angles and interpretations the book manages to come up with is incredible! It can be a bit confusing but that is to be expected with such a subject matter and the story is wholesome and interesting enough to tie the book together perfectly.

Boromir 

Breakaway Reviewers received a copy of the book to review.
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In this alternate reality four women invent time travel in the 1960s thus changing the world and their own fate irrevocably. Three go onto pioneer it's uses (and abuses) but for one, Barbara a breakdown is triggered. Fast forward to 2017 and she, abandoned by the women she she lived and breathed science with, has lived an ordinary life, never again included in any time travelling exploits. But then she and her granddaughter Ruby receive a message telling them of the mysterious death of an elderly lady which will happen in the next year. The woman that discovers that body, in 2018, becomes obsessed with discovering what happened but any investigations and the inquest seem perfunctorily at best. She becomes determined to unravel the truth. No matter what the cost is.

Well this book almost has it all. Time travel? Check. Romance? Yep. Mystery? Plenty. Disturbing concepts of what desensitized time travellers get up to in their spare time? Definitely! The very idea of "forecasting" and a "legacy f***" is pretty horrifying! But leaving that icky thought aside this was an intriguing and thought provoking story, which for a first novel is remarkably accomplished. Usually in time travel novels and films there are massively glaring plot holes that are hard to ignore. But this felt strangely authentic, maybe because in this world time travel is not an unusual thing. In any case I very much enjoyed this novel and look forward to more from Kate Mascarenhas.
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Four female scientists on the verge of creating a time machine..Unfortunately the time travel has a detrimental affect on one of the team. I didn't really manage to relate to any of the characters. Although I usually enjoy Sci Fi, this didn't inspire me. Great idea.
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For female scientist inventing time travel! What's not to like? I think The Psychology of Time Travel is a good combination of time-travel, a murder mystery, and smart independent women.  I enjoyed the way time travel was incorporated as a normal part of the society and the way it changed people.   The story unfolds simultaneously in different time lines, which is fascinating and extremely appropriate for this story.  As a crime novel, I don't think it's particularly intriguing, but the world around it is highly enjoyable.

Looking forward to Kate Mascarenhas' next book!

I received this ebook via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks!
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If there was one song that I would attribute to The Psychology of Time Travel it would be Beyonce's female anthem; 'Run the world (girls)'. I really enjoyed the dynamic characters and the premise of this book, and I was quick to recommend it to others who shared a love of time travel, murder mystery, and girl power.

Alternating between three points of view, The psychology of Time Travel is a book that delves into family, friendship and trusting yourself. I really enjoyed learning about the female scientists Margaret, Lucille, Grace, and Barbara - who were all so different and complex.

Having said that, there were one or two moments in the beginning when I was a little bored as Mascarenhas set the scene, but for the most part, I was intrigued enough about the characters and was driven by the need to know how the unidentified woman came to be murdered behind a locked door.

I think if you are after a read that contains strong female characters and have ever wondered what it would be like if mankind discovered and utilized time travel, then you will really enjoy this book.
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A really interesting read with lots of time-hopping, mystery and unique characters. I haven’t read any books that included time travel as a normal part of society and it was really intriguing to see how it worked with some people choosing to become time travellers and how they become desensitised to normal human parts of like such as death.
The writing is wonderful too, making this book a joy to read and I couldn’t put it down once I started it.
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Having read just about every time travel novel there is I was wondering how different this tale could be. As soon as I began to read it I had no need to wonder any more - this is a unique novel containing time travel with so many fabulous ideas.

I was sucked in straight away - rather than just someone hoping about in time this book has a time travel HQ called The Conclave - it's recognised by the world at large that time travel exists and you can sign up to be a time traveller. 

Even when I was reading this book I was thinking about it - the author really created a whole other world. The time travellers have their own vocabulary and also they can meet and interact with themselves in future or past times, sometimes many versions of them at once!

If that wasn't all enough there is also a murder mystery to solve too. Really this book ended far too soon for me. My only reservation was that I was unable to read it for long periods and so at times I had forgotten who was who. However, I realised that some of the time you didn't know who was who as you hadn't met them yet!

I would caution against this book for those who do not subscribe to the theory of time travelling existing, as you will not like the book, or think it believable; but for someone like me it was a joy to read.

I'm giving this remarkable book five out of five stars. My thanks to netgalley for an ARC to review.
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