The first novel in Taylor’s Chronicles of St. Mary’s series (of which six volumes have been published in the U.K., with more forthcoming) takes readers on a carnival ride through laughter and tears with a bit of time travel thrown in for spice. St. Mary’s Institute of Historical Research is kind of, but not quite, attached to England’s Thirsk University; it’s dependent on the educational institution for funding and ostensibly receives some oversight. But St. Mary’s has its own mission to undertake. The Historians, aided by a phalanx of support personnel, are tasked with traveling throughout the past and reporting their findings. They’re restricted to observation only, with minimal interaction. Madeleine “Max” Maxwell, an expert in the field of history, finds herself pulled into the institute’s chaotic orbit, and she brings her own special brand of madcap innovation. Of course, her introduction to time travel doesn’t go smoothly, especially as several people are out to destroy St. Mary’s and all within its hallowed walls. The humor is plentiful, but the comic situations aren’t overly exaggerated. Max’s world is depicted in lush detail, mixed with appropriately interesting historical tidbits. U.S. readers will be impatient for later installments to make their way across the Atlantic. (June)
Reviewed on: 02/15/2016 Release date: 03/01/2016 Genre: Fiction
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