Monday, May 16, 2011

Time Is Of The Essence

Time Witch
~Time Witch~
By Jacqueline Corcoran

Amazon ~ Solstice Publishing

For 12-year-old Genevieve, life is made up of knowns and unknowns. For example, she knows that witches, trolls, and winged horses don't exist anywhere but in fairytales. She knows that the map on her wall is the product of her own imagination. And she knows that things like swords and crests went out of style ages ago.

On the other hand, she doesn't know why her mother didn't return home from work last night. Or why her ceiling just now decided to reveal a secret room. Or how it's possible that passing through the gate of Dumbarton Oaks has transported her to a world that has her questioning everything she knows.

You'd think they'd include something about that in the tourist guides.

Now Genevieve's caught in a race against time to find three missing artifacts and save the kingdom. But with monsters chasing her, mazes trapping her, and mysterious new powers popping up, she'll need help from her new friends if she wants to survive the week, let alone find a way back home.

Time Witch is a classic fantasy adventure. You have a hero(ine), a quest, a villain, some self-discovery, and friends to help, all contained in a world where magic reigns and the unexpected happens all the time. Genevieve is your typical unpopular, shy, middle school student. When her mother goes missing, she's devastated but still manages to find the courage to take up the search, and ends up wandering into a magical world she thought she'd only imagined. Dropped in the middle of a quest to stop the end of time, she's got to overcome her own insecurities and discover the power she holds in order to defeat evil and save those she loves.

Written in a similar style to The Chronicles of Narnia, this is a straight-forward, dialog-heavy, plot-powered adventure story. Intricate details are on the scarce side, leaving much of the world to the reader's imagination, and allowing for a faster action-packed read. The plot takes quite a few twists and turns, making for an especially unpredictable and exciting journey. Though there is a bit of romance, it's kept fairly light and is at most a subplot of the story, so I don't think boy readers will be turned off at the get-go.

I especially enjoyed the time-themed quotations at the beginning of each chapter! I only recognized a couple, but I knew absolutely every one of the authors quoted and that in itself made me smile. Also, each quote was a little clue about what was happening in the chapter, so when something strangely familiar showed up, I'd remember the quote at the beginning and grin again. Plus, I'm curious enough to look up all those quotes and see what works they came from. A great teaching tool, I'm sure. *wink*

Unfortunately, there were a few things that didn't work for me in this one.

This story was extremely plot-heavy. Between the mystery of Genevieve's mother disappearing, the quest for the missing artifacts, running from the witch, and discovering a lost history and magic, there was very little space for character development. With events happening one right after the other with little down-time, it certainly makes for a thrilling read. On the other hand, it also makes it difficult to gauge character growth, such that most escapes or victories seem contrived or unearned.

With the characters being secondary to the action, I always wanted more from them. Genevieve was believable as a young girl—I understood her insecurities and concerns about being separated from her mother—but there were times I thought she should be more scared. I mean, she finds herself in a world she knows can't exist...shouldn't she be freaking out instead of merely curious? Rowan was also fairly static in his advancement through the story. The only things he seems to care about are his sword and killing something ("Those two girl trolls stole my sword before I could even baptize it in battle." - pg 91). In fact, I think Eve, who was nearly the last character to be introduced, was my favorite in that she had the most sass and intelligence of the bunch. Really wish we'd gotten more time with her.

Still on the subject of characters, the similarities between Genevieve's friends in the real world and in the fantasy world was a neat concept. The dopplegangers seemed to suggest that these two worlds are somehow connected at a base level, and yet the further implications of this were left completely unexplored. Does Genevieve's connection with Eve correlate at all with Yve? Or was this a Wizard of Oz type scenario where real-life elements are merely infused onto the fantasy-world elements? This is left unanswered at the end, and frankly, I'm perplexed.

I'm not sure what to say about the ending. I think it felt a little rushed—I'd even say abrupt—though I liked that it kept possibilities open for one's imagination. There are issues yet to be tackled and questions yet to be answered, which is always a great quality for a young-reader novel, however I'm not sure if the ending is in fact open-ended or leading toward a sequel. If there isn't a sequel planned, I wish there had been more explanation. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Still, despite my own issues with the book, I enjoyed the story and the time I spent reading it.

Overall, I'd recommend this for young readers who like, or are interested in exploring fantasy. It's probably a little more aimed toward girls than boys, but there's enough action and adventure that it should entertain either. This fast-paced, twisty plot is sure to keep readers on the edge of their seats. So what are you waiting for? Time's a-wasting!

Approximate Reading Time: 3 hours

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.