Kirkus Reviews QR Code


by Roz Kay ; illustrated by Kelsea Rothaus

Pub Date: March 16th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-910237-58-8
Publisher: Hayloft Publishing Ltd

After time traveling to the Bronze Age, a girl must save a community and her brother in this debut middle-grade novel.

The family farm in Wiltshire, England, where 12-year-old Lizzie Greenwood lives, stands close to the remains of an ancient stone circle called the Bull Stones. Her brother, Daniel, 14, is fascinated by the circle and a nearby Bronze Age site being excavated by archaeologists. As the two investigate the area on a winter solstice evening, they’re charged by a herd of eerie bulls. Lizzie and Daniel flee between the stones—and find themselves in broad summer daylight some 3,000 years ago near a village of roundhouses. The siblings learn that the villagers are called the Horse People, and their enemy is the Bullmaster, who kills women and children and steals men’s souls for his slave army. The Horse People’s queen could stop him, but she’s been mortally wounded by a bull. When the Bullmaster seizes Daniel, Lizzie realizes she must use the stones to prevent disaster by traveling back and forth through time. Time travel is a compelling theme, and Kay handles it well in her book. Lizzie’s trips through the stones make storytelling sense, as when she gets penicillin—used on her family’s farm to treat animals—to save the queen. Lizzie herself is brave and appealingly thoughtful as she wrestles with the question of whom to trust. Her special connection to the stones helps explain her ability to understand and speak the ancient language, often a sticking point in time-travel stories (although the supposedly Bronze Age tongue is closer to Chaucer’s Middle English). Kay’s writing is another pleasure, atmospheric and poetic even when describing small details: “Sheep’s wool straggles of smoke clinging to the air.” The black-and-white illustrations by debut artist Rothaus are skillfully shaded and composed, adding to the book’s sense of mystery.

Both gripping and lyrical—a fine time-travel tale.