The Timeseer’s Gambit by Kate McIntyre

With The Timeseer’s Gambit, McIntyre delves further into her distinct characters and their unique world. While we learn more about Chris, Olivia, and especially the dark truths about the spiritbinders, there is also another series of murders to solve in tandem. Everything is interconnected – and it all comes back to the Floating Castle disaster. Intricate plotting, pathos so palpable as to be crushing, and solid writing make this one of my best reads of 2016. This series is highly recommended.

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Story: Chris and Olivia are asked by Inspector Maris to sniff out clues behind several murders as the church of Three and Three. Rogue spirits have become unbound and attacked innocent initiates. As the pair hunt down information, Chris is bothered by his attraction both to his sister’s governess, Rachel, and to his best friend, Will. Lonely and alone, preoccupied by the impending trial of Dr. Livinstone, greatly missing his sister, and still grieving over the death of Fernand, Chris is having a hard time coping with the grisly murder scenes as well. At the same time, he’s beginning to realize that something is very wrong with his memories.

Neatly interwound are several storylines: Chris’ pathos and emotional fragility, Olivia’s church murders case, need to save Dr. Livingstone, and more information about the reason the floating castle fell. They are all interconnected in surprising ways and McIntyre is very smart about how she releases clues and answers. Taken as a whole, the body of the book is the mystery, the heart is William’s raw emotions, and the soul is his relationship with Will.

Many readers will probably have glossed over Will (the timeseer) in the first book but admittedly I was hungty to learn more. I wasn’t disappointed with this second book and we get quite a bit more information about him and his connection to Chris. It was their interactions that really struck a cord in a book with peerless emotional resonance. I almost hoped he would be in every scene at one point.

The world building is so beautifully crafted and never takes back seat to the characters. Dark, edgy, but so believable in this pseudo-victorian society, the cruelty of how the binding process is brought out as well as the dwindling efficacy in each new generation of spiritbinders pose some interesting questions. The Farraday Files is a series that is not one book shamelessly (and pointlessly) extended into a series. There is a clear overall arc and we are steadily learning more and more with each volume.

I really can’t fault much in the book. The writing is crisp, dialogue sharp, character pathos exquisite, and the worldbuilding superb. I greatly look forward to the next volume. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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