Time of Blood by Robin Jarvis
|Time of Blood by Robin Jarvis|
|Reviewer: James Donald|
|Summary: A dark and bloody tale that very much feels like the middle story in a trilogy.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 256||Date: July 2017|
|External links: Author's website|
Travel back over a hundred years into Whitby's past to see two witches battle an ancient evil. Follow young Lil as she tries to avoid spoilers and find her best friend.
Time travelling witches, ancient evil monstrous beasts from the deep, cameos from famous faces, inexplicable fog, little people, pure evil, vampires, flying creatures… y'know once I got past the rather difficult first few pages I could have been forgiven for thinking that I was reading a Terrance Dick novel about the Fourth Doctor's adventures. Certainly that was the atmosphere invoked here but if anything the period of tales and books that nearly got the longest running science fiction show in the world banned by Mary Whitehouse was actually tame in comparison. This is brutal.
There are only a few deaths described in the book but what makes them so brutal is the off-hand nature of them. We spend a long time hearing all about a character only to discover their brutally dismembered body a short time later. We aren't even allowed to dwell on this as suddenly we are running for our lives. Not too much later the person we assumed was one of our view point characters suddenly stops being so verbose and later is just found dead. George R R Martin seems to be rubbing off on even children's authors!
The plot is a little muddled; this mainly comes from the stumbled start. I would have hoped such an incredibly experienced author as this would have handled the transition better between sequels. It is disappointing that his editor didn't remind him that despite this being the third book in a series authors should always treat every book as if it is someone's first. After the first few pages of wading through mud the feeling quickly passed and I found the book as a whole incredibly engaging. The start aside my only structural issue was that the author switched scenes quite abruptly at times. This can be a powerful trick if trying to build tension by showing simultaneous actions, a trick he used towards the end but on the whole it just caused me to have to jump back a paragraph or two every now and then to fully follow the flow.
This is a brutal book hiding inside a happy little tale of village folk, dwarf-like beings and the power of femininity through witchcraft. Make no mistake that every happy little moment hides something far darker. To illustrate the difficult exchanges between two magical creatures at the start of the book sounds like the usual merry banter of such creatures but it is actually dealing with spousal abuse. This is mentioned but not explicitly and the full extent of it is only revealed by the shadow it casts on many later interactions and our impression of a character whose name is not given to us until half way through.
Time travel is handled well and whilst lip service is paid to many of the usual tropes the author doesn't let himself get too hung up on things (similarly he avoids getting into a situation where timey-wimey style explanations are necessary.
All in all I was left thinking how much books have changed since I was a kid. The worst that happened to the Secret Seven is that they may run out of Ginger Beer. I suppose the Swallows and Amazons crews could have capsized but I don't recall ever getting a lecture against rape culture and specifically any hint of blaming a woman's looks in those tales. Similarly despite being part of one of the most brutal conflicts in human history I don't think Biggles had a lot of blood drained corpses turning into Eldritch abominations.
For further reading I do, all joking aside, recommend Terrance Dicks Doctor Who novels. Robin Jarvis is an incredibly prolific writer and just one of his reviewed books on The Bookbag is The Power of Dark
You can read more book reviews or buy Time of Blood by Robin Jarvis at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Time of Blood by Robin Jarvis at Amazon.com.
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