As far as elements of Science Fiction and Fantasy go, I think time-travel is one of the most confusing and hardest to do well. It seems like every obstacle that is conquered presents three more that need to be solved. Honestly, I sometimes get a headache reading books with these themes. But from the moment I saw the cover of Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier, I knew I wanted to read it. It looked beautiful. The cover made me think of fairy tales, which is why I initially picked it up. Once I read the blurb, my tune changed, but it’s not a big book, and the descriptions still captured my interest, so I gave it a chance. Needless to say, Ruby Red surprised me with wonderful characters, a great sense of magic, and crazy family drama that we can all relate to in one form or another!
Her whole life, Gwyneth watched her lovely cousin Charlotte train for the day in her sixteenth year her genetic inheritance would activate and send her traveling through time. Gwen knew she was off the hook, because she was born on the wrong day… or so she thought. When it is Gwen and not Charlotte who suddenly ended up in another time, all the familiar rules and expected reactions fly out the window.
Unprepared for this crazy reality that was violently thrust upon her, Gwen begins her training alongside the delicious, well-trained albeit rude and snobby Gideon. Eventually he grows on her, but too bad he’s hands off. He’s in love with her cousin, who is no longer speaking to her. As if she had a choice in her genetic makeup. As she and Gideon traverse the 18th century and meet ancestors that may or may not have ulterior motives, Gwen is all the while trying to figure out why her mother lied about her birthday, and what it means in the greater scheme of this crazy new situation.
This book was short, sweet, and highly enjoyable. There was a lot of fun packed into the pages, and it was a really easy read. Besides the familiar elements of time-travel Gier introduced all sorts of new, cool ideas which involve a prophecy, music, ravens, precious stones, and much more. There is all sorts of family drama of course, which is an interesting break from the actual time-travelling scenes, and they add a sense of realism to an unrealistic topic.
It was also fun for me to read a book that had a heavy British feel. I believe the book was initially written in German, but the translation has a decidedly British flare. Also, even though the book is set in modern times, there was a bit of a timeless feel to the story. I’m sure part of this has to do with the old-fashioned clothes they needed to wear, the antiquated ways of acting Gwen needed to learn, and the knowledge she slowly gained on her interesting family history.
This book is the first in a series of three, with the second one, Sapphire Blue, coming out this spring. Ruby Red was great fun, combining time-travel and other enjoyable fantasy elements to create something lovely to read. I’ll definitely be picking up the subsequent sequels.