Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Out-of-Time: Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor


Presumed lost in an earthquake in India, Hope Walton's mother is not inside that coffin at her own funeral. But Hope's stepfather feels that the flower-covered coffin is there to give them closure.

But there's no closure for Hope. Her grandmother has always resented her mother and rejected Hope as an interloper into her family, and she is not surprised when her dad and grandmother agree that sending her to Scotland for the summer with her mother's family, people she has never known, is going to be good for her.

At sixteen Hope finds herself in a new world, warmly welcomed by a warm, strong-minded family, her aunt, Lucinda, "cousins" Phoebe and Collum, and their parents Mac and Moira. Out riding, she meets a boy, Bran Cameron, handsome and funny and somehow familiar, and feels her first stirrings of attraction.

And one restless midnight, following the sound of mysterious music in the library, she discovers a hidden door:

I peeled the weighty tapestry aside, revealing the hidden door behind it, slightly ajar, held open by a bronze spaniel someone had placed in the crack as a doorstop.

One seemingly endless flight of stars down, I emerged into what appeared to be the manor's cellar. Alongside a wall monitor was a rectangular black board. On it, digital lines of yellow text flipped by....

One line reappeared again and again.

London 121154.04

And further on, Hope finds a cabinet with a placard affixed to the glass:

Artifact 5419. Tapestry 182 x 83 cm.
Created Flanders/London 1153

And the central figure of the tapestry is a woman with strong shoulders...

I stared into my mother's face, woven into an object that was early nine hundred years old.

Hope discovers that her mother's family are a clan of time-travelers who call themselves the Viators, caught in a multi-century conflict with estranged relatives who call themselves the Timeslippers, and that she is in Scotland to join in a rescue mission to bring her mother back from 1154 A.D., the time of the coronation of Henry II and his queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine. The magical ley lines, the Dim, are set to converge on the node within that cellar soon, and Hope learns that her opal necklace her mother gave her confers safe passage for her into the Dim which leads her and her cousins back into 1154. After a flurry of lessons in Plantagenet English and Norman French and combat training in medieval weapons, Hope finds herself in London on the day before the coronation where her mother is indeed alive but not well, now married to a cruel minion of Thomas a' Becket.

In a swirl of events, Hope finds herself involved with palace plots, and aided by Queen Eleanor, who incurs the spite of Thomas a Becket and foreshadows his death, meets up again with Bran, apparently a turncoat Timeslipper, and she is off on a frantic search for the fabled opal, the Nonius Stone, without which most of the rescue party and her mother will be stranded in the England of 1154.

Janet B. Taylor's forthcoming Into the Dim (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016) hits all the marks for the genres of adventure, historical fiction, fantasy and science fiction (inventor Nicola Tesla is the architect of the time machine), not to mention romance with the intriguing Brandon Cameron in this first of a projected series. Taylor's attention to the details of the twelfth-century setting adds much to the atmosphere of this out-of-time adventure story and her portrayals of the towering historical figures of the time are integral to the well-woven plot. In the course of all that, protagonist Hope grows from a fearful child who cannot deal with her immediate family into a strong warrior in the time-travel wars, one whose future adventures in the Dim readers will eagerly await.

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