It’s hard to be a fan of time travel stories without also acquiring some familiarity of the alternate universe trope along the way. Jodi Taylor switches up her world a bit as Max receives the full effect of her second chance. But there are still enough similarities to our original St. Mary’s Institute of Historical Research for readers to maintain their investment in the characters and their story.
A new villain is introduced, and Max and Leon are chased throughout time. Every stop is unique and interesting, while also presenting it’s own dangers from both the Time Police and it’s own environment. I had a bit of a “face-palm” moment at one of the stops that Max chooses intentionally, but she wouldn’t be a great heroine if she was perfect.
I can’t talk too much about Pompeii without giving away major portions of the plot, but I can’t resist mentioning it as yet another example of Taylor presenting history in a way that comes alive, even in the face of inevitable tragedy.
A bit more suspension of disbelief than usual is required during the finale of this novel, but if you’re not willing to go along for the ride by four books in, it’s probably time to find a different time travel series. I had great fun on this roller coaster, even after the few issues I had with the realism of the combat. But on the other hand, Taylor is a brilliant historian and it would be unfair to be hypercritical when her “applied history” is still well done.
And just when I thought the alternate universe was a ploy for a happily ever after, it serves it’s own purpose in a way that felt very satisfying as an ending to the book. I look forward to seeing how Max settles into her new world.
Currently reading: The Purple Heart Detective Agency by Rock Neelly (80%)