by Eugenia Riley, historical/time travel (2000)
LoveSpell (Timeswept), $5.99, ISBN 0-505-52408-2
It is 1945, and World War 2 has just ended. The world is rejoicing (except maybe the defeated parties) as well as weeping and mourning over what it has lost. Vicky Cheney is depressed because her sister is killed in an orphanage that went up in flames while Vicky was playing nurse. Likewise, RAF pilot Adrian Bennett's son was in the orphanage too. But no, wait, our two intrepid leads follow the ghosts of these two kids until they find out... The brats are alive!
But hold the celebrations - the brats are alive alright. Somehow though, they escaped the fire only to end up in 1886 Charleston. And now all four have to find their back to their time.
Isn't this story interesting? It's a refreshing cry from the usual time travel yarn (she falls for portrait, sleeps, wakes up in the past to nanny his son, etc), but imagine my disappointment when the execution falls way, way, way below expectations.
One, the brats. They scare me, because they speak like 40-year-olds, you know the sort: the type of people who go to India, touch some self-declared Baba fellow, and come back with stars in their eyes and nothing but "we are all brothers and sisters, let's hold hands and smell the incense" yammerings from their mouths. Meet Cathy Cheney and Nate Bennett, whose moment of "touching bonding" in the early pages is so corny and goosebump-inducing that I'm sure they will start heavy petting each other were I not told they're just prepubescent kids.
These kids don't speak, they preach. And that's the spookiest part, because when people speak like this they tend to be on some sort of drugs they shouldn't be taking. And these kids are... well, kids.
And in a strange reversal of roles, Adrian and Vicky act like moronic kids denied their candies. Their first meeting have them both behaving badly towards each other in some childish pout - this after just losing their loved ones! - and the trend continues. Petulant bickering, foot stomping, and ugly sulking galore. Childish behavior is not cute. And frankly, Vicky and Adrian come off as one-dimensional cardboard characters with the obligatory "I'm not worthy of her so I'll say mean things to drive her away" baggages.
Whatever it is, Embers Of Time definitely sets off no conflagration. It's readable, it has great premise and lots of potential, but nothing memorable is delivered. Rest in peace, possibilities.
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