Time-traveling teens unwind history to fix what went wrong in a battle between clockwork mechanics and electricity in this first installment of a planned series by Gavin.
Nobody remembers Charlie Horologe’s name. Even his mother has to post notes around the house to remember what to call him. Charlie finds out why when he falls through a time portal created by machines made in an alternate history. Charlie emerges in 1725 London, where he meets another time traveler, Yvaine, who must travel with him. They need each other; girls can only go uptime and boys go downtime. By sticking together, they can go anywhere. Their nemeses—Tick Tocks—are creepy gears and clockwork cogs that try to kill time travelers to preserve their preferred timeline. That future does not include Ben Franklin, portrayed as a young man 20 years before he discovered electricity. A masterful storyteller, Gavin (The Darkening Dream, 2011) builds a solid plot with believable characters. Charlie is likably ordinary, but his years of social awkwardness and reading biographies make him a smart traveler with knowledge of historical details. Yvaine is not the typical leading lady. She’s gritty and offensive. Alone in time since she was 7, she uses thievery and sex to survive. Theirs is less a love story than one of lust, adventure and need. Charlie’s father, Fink, offers loving guidance, in spite of spending too much time away from his son. The story behind time traveling unpeels in layers. As Charlie learns more about himself and other travelers, whom he distinguishes easily because they are more in focus, he better understands how he can manipulate time to save the country he loves, the history he believes is right and himself.
Turns history on its ear, leaving the reader counting the days until Charlie is back for another trip.