Review Detail

Middle Grade Indie 72
Drama across time
Overall rating
Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
What worked:
Readers can immediately speculate about what’s to come when Charlie’s grandmother gives him a necklace with a magical stone attached. He has no idea what makes it so special and then he notices a dark shadow following him around town. This is all coupled with the bad dreams he’s been having and the strange behavior of a dog and a cat. Charlie then discovers a letter from Malcolm Mordrex inside his soccer bag saying he knows where to find Charlie’s missing mother. She disappeared years ago and promised to return. Charlie doesn’t know what it all means so readers can wonder about what will happen when he realizes he can travel through time. However, Mordrex constantly appears at inopportune times and he has diabolical plans that involve Charlie.
Charlie is told he must travel with his mentor before trying it on his own but his grandmother/mentor is still in the hospital. Of course, readers know that’s not going to happen. He unexpectedly finds himself several centuries in the past in Italy without knowing how he did it. He hasn’t finished reading the manual on using the Winter Stone and he doesn’t know why his grandmother left certain objects in her travel bag. Readers, Charlie, and his friends will learn about using the amulet for time travel by trial and error. This creates uncertainty and anticipation in the story. What happens if Charlie loses the Winter Stone while he’s in the past?
The author doesn’t spend much time addressing the paradox of time travel regarding what happens if Charlie changes an event that affects the future. One of the rules for time travelers is that they’re only observers. Readers are also informed that Charlie can only travel on his birthday or half birthday and he must travel to fixed locations in time. The Leaning Tower of Pisa is the first place he travels and the Seattle Space Needle is another. Somehow, clothing for Charlie and his friends magically changes whenever they visit another time period. An innovative twist concerns animals and how they interact with portals which Charlie learns along the way.
What didn’t work as well:
These kinds of books often have the characters interacting with famous historical personalities but Galileo only makes a brief appearance this time. There really aren’t any suspenseful moments when they might have altered history which is a surprise since Charlie doesn’t know what he’s doing. Also, it’s not clear why there are time travelers in the first place.
The final verdict:
This book offers an innovative take on time travel with printed rules to be followed. Charlie has ulterior motives to locate his mother so that adds some heart to the story. Overall, this is a fun book of time-traveling adventure and I recommend you give it a shot.
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