Conclusion of a trilogy of young adult, time travel novels with a romance subplot
Reading Level: Young Adult
Release Date: October 8, 2013
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Pages: 464 pages
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry
This is the third and final book of the Ruby Red Trilogy. These young-adult, time-travel novels are by a German author and have been translated, to date, into 26 languages.
Sixteen-year-old heroine Gwyneth Shepherd (Gwen) is the “Ruby,” a crucial addition to an existing, mysterious Circle of Twelve who are all time travelers. The main villain of the series is Count Saint-Germain, the founder of the Circle. He was born in 1703, and was the first to utilize a chronograph to prevent uncontrolled time jumps. In addition to the ability to travel through time, he has several other magical abilities which are revealed in this book.
In Book 1, Ruby Red, we are introduced to Gwen’s world. Her cousin Charlotte Montrose, who is almost exactly Gwen’s age, has been trained all her life as the one person of her family this generation who is presumed to have inherited the time travel gene–until the day that, out of the blue, Gwen has a terrifying experience of unexpected and uncontrolled time travel. From that moment on, it becomes obvious that she, not Charlotte, is the Ruby, their family’s designated time traveler.
In Ruby Red and its sequel, Sapphire Blue, Gwen struggles to catch up with all the studies she needs to complete in order to safely time travel. Her assigned companion for all of her official time-travel excursions is handsome, arrogant, eighteen-year-old Gideon de Villiers, who is the Diamond of the Circle of Twelve. Gwen and Gideon experience many misadventures of varying complexity and danger in Books 1 and 2, and those adventures continue in Emerald Green. Across all three books, Gwen grows increasingly infatuated with Gideon, in spite of the fact that he blows hot and cold in the romantic interest he displays toward her.
In addition to being a time traveler, Gwen can see ghosts, and in Sapphire Blue, she acquires a quirkily bizarre companion named Xemerius. He is the ghost of a demon in the form of a stone gargoyle whom only Gwen can see. To me, he is reminiscent of Quasimodo’s humorous gargoyle companions, Victor, Hugo, and Laverne, in Disney’s animated movie, The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Xemerius is extremely chatty and disruptive of Gwen’s life, but he proves his worth as a valuable friend to Gwen on multiple occasions by running spying missions for her to discover what the adults who are part of the Circle are hiding from her.
I would not label this series “paranormal romance,” because the romance with Gideon is not the main focus of the story, and it is very slow to develop. Instead, the A-Plot consists of Gwen’s time travel adventures and the mystery of who the villain is and what he wants. In short, if readers approach this series not expecting intensity and passion between Gwen and Gideon, they can avoid needless disappointment. My own labeling of this series is that it is chick-lit time travel, because Gwen is a classic, chick-lit, adorably hapless, slapstick heroine. I don’t personally see that as a negative. I’m always happy to discover any YA book, in a field saturated with extremely dark, post-Hunger Games dystopians, that is light and humorous in tone.
I experienced the first two books in this trilogy as audiobooks, but I was not patient enough to wait for the audiobook version of Emerald Green as the third and final book of this internationally bestselling series, so I snagged the first copy I could lay my hands on through Amazon’s Vine program. However, if the audiobook that eventually comes out is of the same quality as the other two, it will be well worth owning.
The world-building and magic of this series is not particularly complex, and it is G-rated enough that all ages can potentially enjoy it, from preteen to adult. It is very much a “clean read” series, avoiding swearing, sexual situations, and drugs. There is only one scene involving drinking in Book 2 when Gwen accidentally gets drunk at an 18th century party because she doesn’t realize there is strong liquor in the delicious punch.
I rate this book as follows:
Fantasy World-Building: 4
Time-Travel Plot: 4
Romance Subplot: 3