One Sentence Review: A series that you have to be patient for (as the first book is agonizingly slow-paced while the second is extraordinarily exciting), this duology is filled with stunning characters and a writing style that is a piece of art in and of itself.
In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles, but years from home. And she's inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she's never heard of. Until now.
Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods-a powerful family in the Colonies-and the servitude he's known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can't escape and the family that won't let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, his passenger, can find. In order to protect her, Nick must ensure she brings it back to them-whether she wants to or not.
Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods' grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are playing, treacherous forces threaten to separate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home forever.
(Summary from Amazon)
This book, if I’m being perfectly honest, was a bit of a disappointment.
What this book did have going for it: absolutely exquisite and beautiful writing, characters that might as well have jumped out of the page and lived in real life (just wait until I talk about my lovely Nicholas Carter), and world-building that explained the time-traveling society down to the most minute of details.
So, let’s talk characters. While I didn’t *love* Etta (I don’t really have a reason other than I just couldn’t relate to her fears and struggles), Sophia and Nicholas were spectacular. I could tell from the start that there was more to Sophia than met the eye, and I was excited to see where her character went.
More on Nick once I get to Wayfarer (trust me, my patience is being tested here too).
Where this book was very much lacking was in plot. This book was so, so slow. Because Bracken had so much explaining to do (time travel is a complicated subject, to say the least), not much happened story-wise. Looking back on this book, I realized how little had occurred, despite the fact that the novel was 500+ pages long.
Overall, this book’s world-building and set-up was spot on (maybe even over-descriptive if that’s possible), and the writing was simply beautiful, but the plot just fell flat in some instances: I would sometimes find it hard to pick up the book and keep going. I definitely recommend it, though, because…
Etta Spencer didn't know she was a traveler until the day she emerged both miles and years from her home. Now, robbed of the powerful object that was her only hope of saving her mother, Etta finds herself stranded once more, cut off from Nicholas-the eighteenth century privateer she loves-and her natural time.
When Etta inadvertently stumbles into the heart of the Thorns, the renegade travelers who stole the astrolabe from her, she vows to finish what she started and destroy the astrolabe once and for all. Instead, she's blindsided by a bombshell revelation from their leader, Henry Hemlock: he is her father. Suddenly questioning everything she's been fighting for, Etta must choose a path, one that could transform her future.
Still devastated by Etta's disappearance, Nicholas has enlisted the unlikely help of Sophia Ironwood and a cheeky mercenary-for-hire to track both her and the missing astrolabe down. But as the tremors of change to the timeline grow stronger and the stakes for recovering the astrolabe mount, they discover an ancient power far more frightening than the rival travelers currently locked in a battle for control. . . a power that threatens to eradicate the timeline altogether. (Summary from Amazon)
Everything wrong with the first book? Totally fixed, improved, perfected, and MADE AMAZING. This series went from meh to WOW in the 500+ pages of this sequel.
First up, the characters. There was so much to love: Li Min, Henry (<3), Sophia, and so many others (although not Rose… she annoyed me). Even in the sequel, I didn’t love, but didn’t dislike Etta: she was a great character, I just never felt I truly connected with her.
But. BUT. There was a character who stole my heart and who I absolutely limitlessly adored like no other from this series.
That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to talk about Nicholas Carter. Nicholas Carter: the sailor who, at the very first glance in the first book, had me knowing I was going to fall for him. Nicholas Carter: the loyal, honest, honorable soul who is without a doubt one of my favorite characters of all time. If there was one thing that made this story really, really incredible, it was Nicholas Carter. He was utter perfection, to say the least.
Nick aside, the plot of this book was impressively exciting (especially after the slow pace of the first installment). With the explanations complete, Bracken was free to take the characters on a new and much more suspenseful journey with higher stakes and just a better story, and she still managed to retain her stunningly unique writing style.
Overall, this book VASTLY improved upon its predecessor. While Nicholas remained my favorite aspect of the whole series, new amazing characters were introduced, and the plot got so, so much better.
Make sure to come back next Wednesday for a new review!