Time travel series, and fish out of water fitting into a different time period, are probably my least favorite urban fantasy tropes. However, I am enjoying this series and the author does an excellent job of portraying two people with very different upbringings. As well, neither character is black or white, they experience difficulties bridging the gaps, make mistakes, and learn more about each other.
Story: Susanna is adjusting to life in the modern century. She grapples with the guilt of being a burden on the Lewis family and also not being there to help her family. Modern city noise, crowds, and feel daunt her and she finds herself at home most of the time. Mark, meanwhile, is doing everything he can to get desperately needed IDs for her so she can get a job and be self sufficient. But when Susanna starts researching more about Raleigh and her family, she will be pulled back into the Federal-era past and risk both her and Mark’s lives in the process.
Most of the book is about current era and not about the travel back to Phoebe in the past. While the first book was about the mores and life of the Federal period of America, this book is an exploration of relationships. Mark and Susanna, their relationship with Mark’s parents and grandparents, friends’ complicated relationships, and of course Susanna’s with her disconnected past and Phoebe. The book is also about choices – and the complications and repercussions, unintended or recognized, that happen as a result. If Susanna goes back to Phoebe, will she save her sister at the harm of another? If Mark devotes his time to Susanna, what will happen with the biking he has trained so hard for? If friends/Mark’s sister stay with their relationships, will that choice cause them more harm than good?
The characters are especially well drawn. Susanna maintains her 1700s strength and maturity. Mark talks very much like a modern boy, sounding younger in comparison but appropriately so. But it’s not all wine and roses – both have to continually work at understanding each other and not get frustrated. Susanna and Mark are good people and we can understand why they are drawn to each other. Other characters, Mark’s friends at school and his sister, also have very complicated relationships that were interesting to read. Each was very different and each was dealt with differently.
Whisper in Time is not a perfect book. Some characters were completely unneeded (e.g., Gabrielle was there mostly to make a point about different type of relationships, rather than add to the story) and otherwise smart Susanna did make the classic YA “run into danger without help so you have to be saved” mistake. But those are minor quibbles for me.
In all, I am enjoying the series. A surprise since I don’t read contemporary YA or time travel stories normally.
Reviewed from an ARC.