The Map of Time by Felix Palma
18 June, 2011
When I was offered this for review I jumped at the chance although I knew nothing about the book or the author. However, slowly reviews began to trickle in that indicated that this wasn’t any ordinary time-travel adventure so I was really looking forward to reading this. The Map of Time by Felix Palma is a romp through Victorian London with Jack the Ripper, H.G. Wells and time travel. What’s not to like, right?
We first meet Andrew Harrington, a serious young man from a wealthy family, who is preparing to commit suicide after mourning the death of his lover, Marie Kelley, eight years ago. That name should ring a bell and we are instantly transported to the dark and dangerous London of Jack the Ripper. His cousin Charles stays his hand by persuading Andrew that with the help of H.G. Wells, the celebrated author of The Time Machine, they can go back in time to save Marie. For a new popular venture by one Gilliam Murray has opened in London which proves that time travel is indeed possible.
At the same time Claire Haggerty is unhappy with the situation she finds herself in: single, bored and being pressurised to find a wealthy husband, something in which she has no interest. She too finds herself taking a trip in time with Murray’s Time Travel to witness the Battle of London in the year 2000 and unwittingly falls in love with a hero from the future.
What I found incredibly interesting and entertaining about The Map of Time are the various twists and turns in the plot, many which caught me unawares and had me laughing out loud. This book really isn’t what it seems on first impressions and I’m mighty glad about it. It’s clever, original and well written. Palma seemlessly weaves in historical figures such as the Elephant Man and writers such as H.G. Wells and Bram Stoker into the plot. It’s not just about time travel and the future, it’s about belief and how that can change people. Ingenious. And who exactly is this mysterious figure Gilliam Murray who claims he has found a portal in time? And can Jack the Ripper really be stopped?
The only thing I wasn’t so sure of was the last few chapters in the book which didn’t seem to segue that well with the rest of the story, but it’s a minor quibble because I had so much fun reading this novel. All I can say is try it and you will be surprised. There are lots of references to history and literature and Palma’s love of Victoriana and London shines through.
The translation from the Spanish by Nick Caistor is also impressive. It reads extremely smoothly and I was struck by the beauty of the language he uses.
And do check out Aarti’s brilliant post on the book.
I would like to thank the lovely people at Harper Collins for kindly sending me a copy to review.
I read this as part of Stainless Steel Droppings’ Once Upon A Time V Challenge.