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.
I have always wondered what it would be like to travel back in time and experience, first hand, different eras that I now can only read about in books. Perhaps that is why I love books so much for their ability to transport me to another place and time. Ruby Red by German author Kristen Gier weaves an exciting mystery about time travel that not only satisfies my wonderlust, but introduced me to a marvelous young protagonist that I completely fell in love with.
While Ruby Red was originally written in German, Anthea Bell did a marvelous job translating this amazing story into English. I was immediately drawn into the story by the author’s voice. Modern day England was easily recognizable and I even found myself hearing an English accent as I read the dialogue, without the annoyance of reading it in print. This writing style remained consistent throughout the story making it fresh and authentic.
The plot of Ruby Red exceeded my expectations. The story’s mystery begins with a prologue that while a bit sparse on details certainly piqued my interest immediately. Grier expertly uses foreshadowing and created quite a lot of suspense through various characters. The time traveling was explained in degrees through events as they unfolded and never overshadowed the story with technical or scientific terms that might otherwise turn a reader glassy eyed. The pace was perfectly constructed making this a quick read.
Another aspect of Ruby Red that drew me into the story were the characters. I adored Gwyneth. She has lived in the shadow of her cousin Charlotte for years because it was believed that Charlotte was the carrier of a time traveling gene. When Gwyneth ends up being the one who time travels, instead of freaking out she keeps her wits about her and handles it in a very logical way. I also loved the fact that while Gwyneth lacks a certain amount of self confidence, she recognizes this flaw in herself and overcomes it through her inquisitive nature and determination to figure things out. Finally, I loved the casual way Gwyneth dealt with her ability to see ghosts, a trait that she has had since she was quite young. Her conversations with a ghost who haunts her school were fun and added another dimension to her personality.
Besides Gwyneth, Geir created a number of secondary characters that all stood out in their own way. Lesley, Gwyneth’s best friend and confidant was such a blast. She accepted that her friend talked to ghost and never questioned her sanity. Lesley also loved doing research and was a huge help to Gwyneth in digging up facts about people she met during her travels. Lesley encourages Gwyneth and offers invaluable advice. Gideon, Gwyneth’s male time traveling counterpart, although quite arrogant at first by the end of the story began to show signs of accepting Gwyneth and admitting that perhaps he had been brainwashed by not only his own family, but the Guardians. Finally, I thought Count Saint-Germain made a great villain and while his presences in the story was minimal, I am sure that his part in the mystery will become more prominent in the next two books.
Ruby Red is a perfectly written mystery that left me wanting the next book in the series now especially since we are left knowing that there is a lot more to discover about the motives of the Guardians, and about Gwyneth. It will appeal to a wide audience, including middle level readers as well as young adult and adults. If you love a great plot, amazing characters, a hint of romance, and of course time travel then I cannot think of a better book to recommend.