Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Ruby Red review

Ruby Red
by Kertin Gier
Henry Holt
May 2011

16 year-old Gwyneth Shepard lives with her mother, her cousin Charlotte and her family of eccentric older aunts in a large rambling house in London.  Gwyneth is grateful that she doesn't have to sacrifice her every waking hour preparing for a life of time-traveling, the way her cousin Charlotte does. Her family carries a rare genetic code that enables certain family members to gain paranormal abilities, including time travel.

Isn't the
cover beautiful? It's so steampunk. The book wasn't overtly steampunk, although the device the characters use to control their time travel did seem like a very clockwork-driven machine, powered by tiny samples of each time-traveler's blood. It's hard to believe that this book was originally written in German. Lots of books seem to lose something in the translation, or come across as somewhat alien, but this felt as if it could have been written in English.

The mechanics
of time travel are fairly well thought out. It's a genetic ability which only a few people have. Travelers can only go back as far as the 1700's, when time travel was first discovered, they can't travel within their natural lifespan, and they can't go to the future. Without their time travel device, travelers will take uncontrolled journeys through time. With it, they can choose relatively safe times to take excursions to. They are helped by a secret society, devoted to protecting them, and Madame Rossini, an expert costumer, who outfits them for each trip. I loved Madame Rossini. She's quite a character, bossy, funny and picky about historical details, but pragmatic about using modern shortcuts to make the clothes as practical as possible. Interestingly, men seem to need to travel more than women do. When Gwyneth finds that she has the ability, she finds that she must work closely with Gideon, a brusque but handsome time traveler just a little older than she is. Naturally, Charlotte is very upset at being supplanted this way. Readers will feel a little bit sorry for Charlotte, since she can't help being such a prig.

There's a wonderful sense of suspense throughout the whole book. Who is the mysterious man who's been spying on the family? Why on earth did Gwyneth's mother think that lying about her daughter's birthdate would keep her safe? Gwyneth has shared forbidden information with her best friend Leslie from school - how will that play out? 
What happened with the exiled couple, Lucy and Paul? Why did they betray their family, and how did they come to be hiding out in the past? The only thing that truly bothered me about the book was that it ended on such a cliffhanger! Unbelievable! A few mysteries seem to be (somewhat) solved, but on the whole, this was very unsatisfying ending. It couldn't have been more abrupt if the ending had been been cut-off in mid-sentence. This is the first in a trilogy, and I'm curious to see how things will resolve.

I borrowed this book from the library.


  1. Awesome review!! I can't wait for this book. It comes out over here in April I think.

    The Cait Files

  2. That's so funny that it comes out later in England, considering that's where the story takes place.



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