One of the more surprising questions to arise in this presidential election cycle was where candidates stood on time travel—more specifically on whether they would go back in time to kill baby Hitler. It turns out, this was a dangerous question, as the ones who answered it were all soon eliminated from the running.
To recap my earlier post here, when The New York Times Magazine posed the question to readers a few months ago, replies from the general public leaned toward offing the little tyke. But since neither of the two main party candidates commented, I’m going to blatantly imagine their responses.
Donald Trump, who hasn’t hesitated to propose walling off Mexico and refusing to allow Muslims into the USA, wasn’t ready to commit to Führer-infanticide. But my imaginary Trump would say that the Holocaust was caused by Hilary Clinton and Obamacare, and so maybe the issue could be resolved by Second Amendment supporters…
And I’m guessing that Hillary Clinton would go into all this boring physics and math stuff to explain how there is no such thing as time travel—she’ll have a powerpoint deck, but reporters will be looking at their twitter feed updates from fivethirtyeight.com when the lights go down so nobody would be exactly sure what she was talking about.
Author Crystal Collier didn’t have to weigh in on Baby Hitler because she set the first two books of her YA fantasy in a historical pre-Regency world which just happened to also include monsters with magical powers. For her third book, Timeless, her heroine travels back in time by five hundred years. But since Alexia’s superpower is time itself, she doesn’t need to worry too much about pesky physics questions like changing the entire course of history or accidentally killing her own ancestors, so it’s the applied Phlebotinum approach (magic!) here.
In the thirteenth century, the Holy Roman Church has ordered the Knights Templar to exterminate the Passionate, her bloodline. As Alexia fights this new threat—along with an unfathomable evil and her own heart—the Soulless genesis nears. But none of her hard-won battles may matter if she dies in childbirth before completing her mission.
Can Alexia escape her own clock?
- Book Title: Timeless (Maiden of Time Book 3)
- Author: Crystal Collier
- Genre: YA gothic romance
Release Date: October 25, 2016 from Raybourne Publishing
If you are new to the Maiden of Time series—DO NOT read Timeless. Not because it isn’t fantastic in every sense—it is. Not because it has serious flaws in plot, pace, or characterization—it doesn’t. But because you deserve the whole experience. And you’re SO much luckier than me. I had to wait for each new volume to come out, wondering what was happening with my series friends. In my review of the first book of this series, Moonless, (and yes, I’m sorry, but you really should read Book 1 first), I explained that until she turns sixteen in 1768, Alexia Dumont leads a life of aristocratic privilege and expectations. But she knows herself to be beyond unattractive, an ugly child whose parents have sheltered her from the world. She’s unprepared for the shock on her sixteenth birthday when her appearance changes to unearthly beauty.
This metamorphosis signals her discovery that she actually descends from a mysterious race called the Passionate. Their compelling beauty and other gifts make them targets of their enemies—the Soulless—whose endless hunger drives their prowl for victims on moonless nights. Alexia falls in love with Kiren, the blue-eyed man from her nightmares, but the cost is the devastating loss of almost everyone and everything she’s ever loved, including the aunt she views as sister.
Book 2 picks up the story as eighteen-year-old Alexia’s wedding is disrupted when the Soulless attack, stealing the only weapon Kiren has been able to wield against them. In the ensuing confrontations, Alexia struggles to make sense of her relationship with Kiren, her feelings of friendship and responsibility for the other Passionate, and her guilt over the loss of Sarah—aunt/sister/best friend.
As I said in my review of Soulless, Crystal Collier’s densely gorgeous prose fits beautifully within her victorian-gothic setting without directly mimicking Jane Eyre or other Brontë heroines. But that venue changes in Timeless, when Alexia moves back in time to a brutally medieval world.
Dirty faces twisted about her.
Her own hands were covered in grime, the nails corroded black. What she wouldn’t give for a bath in Father’s estate. But Father’s estate had not been built yet, and it would not be for another several hundred years. The best she could hope for was a warm rain or chilly river. At least to staunch the smell.
One of my concerns about the first book was that we didn’t find out enough about the hero, Kiren. In the second book, his self-doubts and mistakes surface, along with glimpses of what proves to be both his strength and his flaws—the conviction that he is responsible for everyone else, and that he has the right to withhold information when he thinks it will only upset them. Alexia is the one who grows in strength and purpose, forged into a leader and a warrior, all of which serves her well when she travels back in time to prevent the creation of the Soulless. As a character-driven story, this works particularly well when we meet the younger Kiren, and at last discover the missing pieces that shaped the long centuries of his existence.
A truly nice metaphor is the juxtaposition of the developing baby Alexia carries even as she struggles to prevent the birth of their enemies, the Soulless. We see the beginnings of the rich cast of supporting characters we’ve gotten to know in later books, explanations for their strengths and flaws, and how that affects their future selves.
One measure of a work is its villains, and in contrast to the earlier books, in Timeless the monsters are for the most part all too human. The pace is a steadily increasing march to a desperate, hopelessly black moment of truth. As Alexia and Kiren’s epic story moves to its inevitable conclusion—one Alexia accepts she is not destined to survive—they are forced to consider whether the evil that has taken so much over the centuries is, in fact, still a better solution than the one that awaits them.
As I’ve said before: if you like character-driven YA fantasy-thrillers, atmospheric romances, brave heroines who grow into their strength, flawed heroes, and beautifully written prose, you can’t do better than this epic trilogy. But take my advice: do NOT read TIMELESS until you’ve read MOONLESS and SOULLESS. Meanwhile, I’m still lucky. I get to read her upcoming novella about the irresistibly psychotic demonic child Bellezza.
**I received this book from the publisher or author to facilitate an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**
Crystal Collier is an eclectic author who pens clean fantasy/sci-fi, historical, and romance stories with the occasional touch of humor, horror, or inspiration. She practices her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, four littles, and “friend” (a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese.
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