Time-Traveling Tales | April 1, 2013

Beukes, Lauren. The Shining Girls. Mulholland: Little, Brown. Jun. 2013. 368p. ISBN 9780316216852. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780316216845. F

In 1930s Chicago Harper Curtis discovers a key to a house that is a time-travel portal. He finds and tracks young girls who “shine” in his eyes through different eras, killing them as they develop into young women. He uses this fantastic ability as a means of extending and titillating his inner demons. Unknown to him, his victim in 1989, Kirby Mazrachi, survives his vicious attack. As she works to find the identity of her assailant, she tracks down clues to other killings and realizes a serial killer is at work. Her determination, cleverness, and insight are what saves the book from being just another thriller about an opportunistic, sadistic killer on the loose. ­VERDICT H.G. Wells’s The Time Machine set up fiction’s basic mode of travel through time with a portal. Strangely for an award-winning sf author, Beukes (Moxyland; Zoo City) uses time travel as a plot vehicle yet neither explains nor expounds upon its magical existence. But readers who enjoy genre-bending fiction will be drawn to her memorable heroine’s determination to save her future by resolving her past. [See Prepub Alert, 12/14/12.]—Susan Carr, Edwardsville P.L., IL

Ridgway, Bee. The River of No Return. Dutton. Apr. 2013. 464p. ISBN 9780525953869. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101624319. F

Nicholas Falcott was about to die in battle in 1815, but he wakes up in a modern London hospital instead. Initiated into the Guild, a powerful group of men and women capable of traveling through time, Nick is asked to return to 1815 to seek a powerful talisman and hunt the Guild’s enemies. Nick discovers his life is as he left it and ready to pull him back. Meanwhile, Julia Percy, part of Nick’s abandoned past, has lost her grandfather’s protection and is faced with a cruel and power-hungry cousin who is convinced Julia knows about their grandfather’s ability to play with time. Julia and Nick are soon caught in a dangerous adventure in which the fate of the future itself hangs in the balance. VERDICT Despite signs of a novice writer (e.g., detailed explanations through dialog), this debut novel by Ridgway (English literature, Bryn Mawr) is a highly entertaining romp; her historical details are accurate, and the characters are believable. Fans of Diana Gabaldon’s “Outlander” series should enjoy this time-traveling romantic adventure, which may also attract readers who like historical fiction with a twist. [See Prepub Alert, 10/28/12.]—Michelle ­Martinez, Sam Houston State Univ. Lib., Huntsville, TX