All Etta Spencer wanted was to make her violin debut when she was thrust into a treacherous world where the struggle for power could alter history. After losing the one thing that would have allowed her to protect the Timeline, and the one person worth fighting for, Etta awakens alone in an unknown place and time, exposed to the threat of the two groups who would rather see her dead than succeed. When help arrives, it comes from the last person Etta ever expected—Julian Ironwood, the Grand Master’s heir who has long been presumed dead, and whose dangerous alliance with a man from Etta’s past could put them both at risk.
Meanwhile, Nicholas and Sophia are racing through time in order to locate Etta and the missing astrolabe with Ironwood travelers hot on their trail. They cross paths with a mercenary-for-hire, a cheeky girl named Li Min who quickly develops a flirtation with Sophia. But as the three of them attempt to evade their pursuers, Nicholas soon realizes that one of his companions may have ulterior motives.
As Etta and Nicholas fight to make their way back to one another, from Imperial Russia to the Vatican catacombs, time is rapidly shifting and changing into something unrecognizable… and might just run out on both of them.
Last year I really fell in love with the time travel and characters in Passenger so reading the sequel when it came out was a must. When I love the first book, I’m usually happy if the second book comes close to giving me the same feeling. For this one, I loved it even more than Passenger. It added some new characters that I loved, developed some of the minor characters from the first, and between the dynamics of the two groups of characters and this sequel added new elements to plot, both in regards to time travel and the fight against Ironwood.
The book was told again in the dual POVs of Etta and Nicholas, picking up where the first book left off. With them being separated, I was a little worried the plot would feel like it was dragging in the same direction too much, too much focus on them trying to find each other through time. Instead if gave both characters a chance to really develop on figure themselves out on their own while giving them new characters to interact with, or focusing more on the dynamics we saw little of in the first book. Nicholas and Sophia’s testy history was really pushed to the forefront as they were forced to work together and I really enjoyed seeing them work together for their different goals. I also enjoyed the addition of Li Min to their group. She was this unknown element who could match Sophia burn for burn and flirted with her, but also added a ‘can she be trusted’ aspect to the group.
My favourite was the growing dynamic between Etta and Julian. She was so determined to reach her goals, of finding out what happened to her, of finding Nicholas, of stopping Ironwood, of finding answers, but she knew she couldn’t do it alone. Julian walked the line of being annoying in his rich privilege and being terrified without knowing how to protect himself. I loved the banter between him and Etta as they kept being forced together by circumstances and that the growth between them stayed platonic(no love triangles!). I also loved that we saw growth in Julian’s character through his journey with Etta and he got to a point where I would definitely pick up a book with his story in it.
The plot, like in the first book, unfolded slowly, and it was something that I enjoyed. Sometimes I prefer fast paced books that really grab me and sometimes I prefer slowly paced books where I can really get absorbed into a complicated plotline. I thought this book, this duology, did a great job in keeping me pulled into the storyline and invested in the characters. I enjoyed the twists and the additional world-building in this one, plus traveling within the book to so many historical places, some which of were altered because of Ironwood. I could definitely understand the need to stop him no matter what the cost.
I would definitely read more books in this universe if they were written. It works so well as a duology but if there were short stories about the minor characters, I would be there. I’m not quite ready to leave this time traveling world behind.