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This issue’s cover illustration is from Brian Wildsmith’s The Hare and the Tortoise (© Brian Wildsmith 1966) published by Oxford University Press and re-issued in 2007 (978 0 19 272708 4, £5.99 pbk). Brian Wildsmith’s work is discussed by Joanna Carey in this issue. Thanks to Oxford University Press for their help with this March cover.
Clever and thought provoking, Time Quake concludes the trilogy started in Gideon the Cutpurse and The Tar Man in which Kate and Peter travel back and forth through time using their father’s anti-gravity time machine. In spite of the fact that there is a preface detailing some of the events of the previous two books, it would be difficult for this to stand alone, but I would imagine that there are many avid readers awaiting this final volume.
Lord Luxon is determined to save America from becoming so by changing the course of the American War of Independence, while Peter and Kate are trying to track down the Tar Man who has the machine which would enable them to return to their families in the twenty-first century. Kate is worryingly ‘blurring’ and fading while discovering she can fast forward and see events before they happen. Peter, Kate and Gideon who is refusing to believe that the Tar Man is actually his older brother, try to stop Lord Luxon who seemingly is able to save America from its future and in an exciting page-turning ending they manage to do this, although Kate appears to pay the ultimate price or does she?
The thought that the course of history could be changed is a challenging one although the author paints a less than flattering portrait of how New York could have been had the British not lost the War! There is much detail of life at the various periods of history, in particular the crossing of the Delaware River by George Washington and his forces, depicted in a famous painting in the Metropolitan Museum in New York where some of the action takes place. The author has done her research well and the difficulties encountered by the characters are well drawn, in particular Lord Luxon and the Marquess de Montfaron who with their quaint language do stick out rather in the twenty-first century. But equally the Marquess’s enchantment with the technology of our world does make you stop and think. The reader moves seamlessly between the two periods believing while they are reading about New York in the 1760s that they are there, while equally at home in the New York of 2009.