Time and Again is the first book in Deborah Heal’s History Mystery series. The basic premise of the book is a teen and her college age summer tutor can experience the lives and thoughts of people from the past [what they call “time surfing”] via a computer program called Beautiful House. They become interested in the life of a young girl named Charlotte who lived in the area around the time of the American Civil War. By watching her life, they get an omniscient view of history and see God’s hand in Charlotte’s life, even through the bad stuff.
The author does a good job of drawing out the history of the area she lives in and putting us in that time. She certainly sounds as if she’d done her research anyway; the book is based on actual historical accounts. Her protagonists are also engaging.
Still, this book is pretty slow and doesn’t really go anywhere until about 2/3rds into the story, where it gets a celebrity boost in the form of a pre-Presidential Abraham Lincoln and begins exploring the issues of slavery and the Underground Railroad. The book also ends abruptly. No one’s character arcs are really completed. It’s not really a mystery, as the series title implies. Nor is it actually sci-fi, which is the impression I got from the book’s description; while the computer program allows the protagonists to time surf, there is much in the story to suggest that time surfing has been accomplished by other characters in the past without the computer and this just happens to be the present vessel for this experience, if you will. Given this, the book is more historical young adult fantasy than sci-fi. The book also suffers from a few minor faults. For example, how does the mother constantly get cell phone calls in a house with no cell service? It had an enjoyable, rambling feel to it and I appreciated the way the author brought out God’s providence through the story, but Time and Again suffers for having no resolution. I understand that there are other books in the series, but each book should have a satisfying conclusion. This one just felt like a long introduction for the characters of the series without them having much to do.
– Tony Breeden, from the Bookwyrm’s Lair
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”