Saturday, June 11, 2011

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier translated by Anthea Bell

Ruby Red (Ruby Red - Trilogy)
Ruby Red
By Kerstin Gier
Translated by Anthea Bell
Henry Holt Publishing
330 pages

Gwyneth Shepherd's sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for traveling through time. But unexpectedly, it is Gwyneth, who in the middle of class takes a sudden spin to a different era! Gwyneth must now unearth the mystery of why her mother would lie about her birth date to ward off suspicion about her ability, brush up on her history, and work with Gideon, the time traveler from a similarly gifted family that passes the gene through its male line, and whose presence becomes, in time, less insufferable and more essential. Together, Gwyneth and Gideon journey through time to discover who, in the 18th century and in contemporary London, they can trust.

When I saw the trailer for this book I was hooked.  The main character, Gwen, had such a strong voice and brought up things I'd never thought about when it came to time travel.  She was funny and charismatic. Now I know this was the voice in the trailer, but it still begged for my attention.  As soon as I got it, I dove in!

A summary-Gwen lives in her maternal grandmother's home with her mother, brother and little sister.  They live in the shadow of Gwen's cousin, Charlotte who was born with "the gene"-the one for time travel.  Right away you know this is a different kind of time travel novel.  The character knows she can time travel.  In fact, the whole family knows about it.  Everyone is waiting on tenterhooks for Charlotte to experience her first travel back in time.  She has some dizziness and nausea, so she's rushed to a secret headquarters for the time travelers called The Temple.  Charlotte has been trained, groomed for time travel since she could talk. Schooled in fencing, history, fashion, politics, manners etc Charlotte is fully prepared for time travel with her handsome partner, Gideon de Villiers.

Lesley, Gwen's best friend, is the only one that knows about the time travel, outside of the family.  They snicker and roll their eyes at the haughty, perfect self-important Charlotte behind her back.  So when it's Gwen that makes an unexpected trip back in time, Lesley is the person she confides in first.  Eventually, when Gwen disappears in front of Lesley's eyes, she makes Gwen tell her mother and they go to the Temple.  Her mother is reluctant, her mother's sister, Charlotte's mother, is furious, claiming she is just trying to get attention and steal Charlotte's thunder.  But, when it's proved that Gwen is the time traveller, she meets Gideon de Villiers, her time traveling partner and gets a crash course in time travel.

That's a lot of the story-more than I should reveal-to get you hooked.  Charlotte is a self important over indulged child.  She's only a very slight character, but those are the impressions you get.  Her mother, Aunt Glenda, is very much the same, treated with importance and a lot of attention by her mother, Lady Arista all because she had the child with the traveling gene.  Then there is Great Aunt Maddy, Lady Arista's spinster sister-in-law.  She treats Gwen's family the same as Charlotte's, thinks all the secrecy is ridiculous and is a little bit doddering.  Lesley, the best friend is a great character.  She is loyal, caring, researches every word Gwen says to try to figure things out.  She compiles a file of information of people and places that seem to be important for Gwen to know about.  I want a best friend like her.

But the two main characters are Gwen and Gideon.  Gwen is smart enough, but better than that, she's clever.  She can figure herself out of situations and she doesn't let Gideon, the so called teacher, tell her what to do.  She can also see and talk to ghosts, something no one seems to believe.  She listens to her instincts instead of others.  She looks nothing like the rest of the family who have red curly hair.  Hers is dark and straight and she has blue eyes and a crescent shaped birthmark on her forehead.  She doesn't suffer from thinking she's ugly,but doesn't think she's quite as pretty as Charlotte.  She's not quite as much as anything as Charlotte when she's spent her whole life believing the opposite.  She's not really jealous though.  Except for her dad dying when she was young, she's had a normal, carefree childhood as opposed to a lifetime of lessons like Charlotte.  She knows her immediate family loves her and she has a confident best friend.  She's also one of the strongest female protagonists I've seen yet in YA fiction.

Then there's Gideon.  The first time he meets Gwen he calls her "Winnie".  Then Gwen overhears Charlotte disparaging her saying her strong points are giggling with Lesley and sending text messages.  Gideon's response is "I thought as much when I first saw her today." Not winning any points with Gwen or me at this point.  Gwen thinks he and Charlotte are in love.  When Gwen fails Gideon's 'history test' he tells her to do what he says and say what he tells her to say and nothing else when they travel.  Other things he says, "She's definitely not my type," doesn't win him any points.  He constantly assures her and himself and Charlotte that he's not interested in her.  Still, Gwen can't help but notice how handsome he is in his period clothes and thinks he's handsome.  But she keeps her head about her.

The bigger issue is the mystery.  Who to believe?  Who to trust?  Is St. Germain, who left Gwen very wary to be trusted?  What about Lucy and Paul?  Can she trust herself?  Has she traveled back in the past to warn herself or others of something?  Can she trust Gideon?  Does he have an agenda?  And the Temple?
There is a little snippet of the next book, Sapphire Blue already published in German in the back of Ruby Red.  It looks very promising.  I want to get a certain Bookworm to translate it for me.  I don't think she does that though.

So, what do you think?  Are you as excited as me?  Have you read it yet?  Are dropping your mouse and running out to buy it?  I know I'm gushing again.  I'm not saying genius or anything, but it might take one to put the puzzle together.  It's a great story and you just don't want to miss it!

Heather in Sandwich



  1. awesome review, heather! I'm hoping to read this one soon~

  2. Ahhh this book sounds amazing! I can't wait to read this one, and I've heard so many good things about it. the time-traveling concept sounds so interesting, and I love how Gwen didn't even know about her ability until it was thrust upon her. Great review!


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