Narrator: Gemma Barrett
Published by Corazon Entertainment on January 22nd 2015
Genres: Historical Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Immortal Descendants are disappearing and seventeen-year-old Clocker Saira Elian is next on the list…
Saira and Archer’s romantic London summer is shattered by the bold kidnappings of Immortal Descendants. It’s clear Mongers want control of the Descendant Families, and when they target a powerful Shifter, there’s no doubt they will eliminate anyone who stands in their way.
A split in time could be the cause of this new Monger aggression, and Saira, Archer and Ringo suspect their time-traveling nemesis Bishop Wilder. One dangerous world is exchanged for another when Saira and her friends track Wilder to the gloomy streets of Paris in 1429. They find the city besieged by marauding wolves led by a fanatical peasant girl who will be known to history as Joan of Arc.
Crossing the time stream to repair it has dropped them into the heart of the Hundred Years’ War on the eve of an epic battle, where the line between friends and enemies will be drawn in blood. To finally end the deadly game of cat and mouse with Wilder, Saira must confront her greatest challenge yet: the truth about her changing Nature.
Every time I read another of White’s books, I fall more in love with this series. Not only is it one of my favorite types of stories in the world (time travel is, like, the best thing ever invented), but it’s well-managed and has good characters.
The Paradox of Time Travel
It takes someone with a lot of patience and a bit of a delicate hand at story-crafting to deal with the paradox of time travel. And anyone who’s ever watched Doctor Who knows that there has to be some semblance of rules, even if they end up being, well, flexible. In the second book of the Immortal Descendants series, Tempting Fate, I decided that White was doing a decent job with the paradoxes.
Why not in the first book? Well, to be honest, Saira is learning as she’s going along, and it wasn’t until there were more ansillary characters that the development of the mechanics of time travel really started to become apparent. And truthfully? That’s totally fine.
In Changing Nature, the idea that the past can change in a “split” or branch is explored further, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a split that was discovered by accident, and it was kind of cool to think through with the characters how to identify what had happened. Super fun, and I’m thrilled that the rules of time travel continue to be explored, rather than just stagnating once they were “good enough.”
Saira’s Gang is Ever-Growing
I love that Saira’s band of “family” grows larger and larger with each group. And, more importantly, I never get people mixed up with one another. There are people who are main characters now that were random side characters that didn’t really matter in the first book, and I can still tell you things I learned about them right at the very beginning. I LOVE that about White’s writing in general — she slips in little reminders of interesting things without making it seem like she expects us to have forgotten.
I love that White’s writing focuses so much on making sure we understand the other characters’ backstories. Much of that is because Saira is such a compassionate main character who, quite honestly, will do anything for the people she considers her own. And even though she grew up with almost the world’s smallest family (after all, just 1 family member who’s randomly not around is still better than none, right?), it doesn’t take much for her to “lay claim” to someone.
Parents are a Thing
In the first book, Saira’s mom wasn’t really in the picture. But overall in this series, Saira not only has healthy interactions with her mom, but also her biological father (which is impressive, given that he’s a permanent resident in Bedlam and died a century before Saira was born), and a couple of other parental figures (some of whom Saira actually considers parental figures, and some of whom think Saira should consider them parental figures). And their roles are not insignificant.
Now, no, they’re not in the spotlight with the majorly cool things going on in the book-specific plot. But they’re playing a major role in the progression of the series’ macro-plot. I kind of enjoy not having parents be an after-thought 🙂
I’m actually kind of proud of Saira
Saira’s character development has been phenomenal. The girl she was at the beginning of the first book, and the woman she is at the end of Changing Nature are completely different. In the second book, I was a little grumbly about how heavy handed some of her development was, but it’s clear that she took the candid and open feedback to heart. From a reading perspective, it’s also awesome to see her transformation, know that she sees differences in her behavior, and get feedback from side characters about how much she’s developed. It all feels very contextually appropriate.
The Insta-slow-burn Romance
I really like this thing she’s got going on with Archer. There’s a part of their relationship that feels almost insta-love-ish, but at the same time, totally not. In the earlier books in the series, I struggled to buy the fact that a guy could fall in love with this random girl over a century ago, turn into a vampire (because of shit she did), and then still be madly in love with her by the time we reach the present day when she hasn’t even met him yet. But we get more of his perspective of that time through stories that Archer shares with Saira, and I actually found them to be adorably sweet. Queue the sweeping violins … (Oh wait, wrong book. And, well, Changing Nature isn’t very stabby stab. At all.)
But seriously, this relationship between the two of them actually feels real. And slow, in all reality. There are times that I found myself questioning if parts of it weren’t too good to be believable. And honestly, then I decided that I didn’t care. Just because my relationship doesn’t fit that particular mold doesn’t mean I can’t fantasize, right?
My One Complaint: The Coincidences are Innumerable
Things just manage to happen that end up working out beautifully. A LOT. Unfortunately, I can’t give you any meaningful examples because, well, they’re VERY spoilery. I guess, since there are seers involved, some amount of convenient circumstance is forgivable. But I’m not sure it explains the insanely high quantity of coincidence. Some things just felt WAY too convenient.
On the other hand, if they actually had to work for everything, the book would be massive. Or, quite possibly, people I love might die.
Which, as an author, might be fun. I mean, no, never, we don’t kill off important characters. This is not a stabby stab book.