Word On The Street, here in Toronto is a wonderful book festival that highlights authors, publishing companies, and smaller book stores, and when it took over the Harbour Front for its event last weekend, I was eager to see what they had in store for me this year.
Amongst the young adult readers I found a stand alone booth with some wonderful art (honestly it was the book’s cover that first caught my attention, followed by the glass bowl of green jelly beans), as we conversed with the author Elyse Kishimoto, I became quite intrigued by the premise of her book. I mean, who doesn’t like a good time travel story.
And it is a good time travel story, though it is far too short.
But, there is a sense of yearning and wonder that only the young can have, captured in Elyse Kishimoto’s writing, a feeling of discovery, while being safely ensconced under your blankets in bed. It’s not all perfect, her action beats come across, occasionally, as muddled, and I found myself wishing she had taken just a few extra sentences here and there to pad it out.
The story, itself, is charming and we join young Louisa Sparks as she is sent to live with her grandfather and France after the loss of her parents. When the school year comes around, however, she finds herself caught up in a time-spanning adventure filled with menace, intriguing characters (again, I wish more time had been spent in their company) and ancient enemies.
There is a lot that works with this story, incorporating actual locations, and preexisting mythologies, Kishimoto fills our her world nicely, and on more than one occasion, as already mentioned, I found myself wishing for a longer tale.
Don’t be surprised by the revelation at the end of the story, it is Book One, after all. I’ll be very interested in how things will out for Louisa and her strangely named companions who come together, on alternate Sundays from various times for dinner and socialising.
Louisa is on her way to becoming a very fine character, through the course of the story she becomes increasingly proactive, and less passive. She’s had a terrible loss at the book’s start that haunts her, but that doesn’t stop her from growing.
There’s humor, wonderful steampunk-esque designs (at least that’s how they appeared in my mind’s eye) and some great beats. Throughout the book, there are reminders of the current date of the story, because there is much travelling back and forth, creating temporal paradoxes, quantum entanglements. It will be interesting, in future adventures, if Kishimoto plays with these concepts a little more.
In the end, it’s a fun story, that left me wanting more, and hoping for clearer action beats, and time spent with the supporting characters. She’s created a fascinating tale, now play in it!