The Time Apprentice

Val Tyler, Puffin

I bought my copy of The Time Apprentice in a bundle with its predecessor The Time Wreccas from Amazon, and I confess that had I not done so I probably wouldn’t have read this book. The first book was an okay kids’ story – mildly enjoyable, but a little too clunky for my personal (and, I have to point out, adult) tastes.

In the sequel, however, Val Tyler has found her stride. Admittedly I still see some of the issues I had with the first book, but they are much more subservient to the plot, which really does take centre stage here. It’s brought in quickly and thunders through the story, giving it a drive that I didn’t feel so much with the first book. There is some good, classic quest-storytelling and a genuinely creepy section underground that if it reminds me of The Hobbit, can only be a good thing. Concepts of shifting time are dealt with simply and elegantly and issues of friendship, self discovery and sacrifice for the common good revolve around the central tale.

The politically-correct doling-out of equal roles to male and female characters that felt artificial in The Time Wreccas is much less heavy-handed here and although the one instance of death is once again glossed over (and wasn’t, IMHO, actually necessary) it’s not nearly as unforgivable as the first time around. Once the quest is begun, the steam-train of the plot takes over and tells a compelling tale that I would have enjoyed as a child.

It’s set in Greenwich, but frankly in many ways, could be anywhere. The Meridian Line is, of course, referenced, but Greenwich itself is not described once, which in my very narrow reading of the book, is a failing. I could have had a couple of ‘markers’ (nothing too nerdy – perhaps one or two of the tourist spots that chidren outside the area would know) to really make me feel that the author had actually visited the place…

I am not a child reader, which makes a ‘real’ review of this book quite difficult, so perhaps my mild irritation at the exposition and telling-rather-than-showing in places is misfounded – maybe children need things spelled out more clearly. In the same way, the liberal sprinkling of adverbs (something of which I am highly (oops) aware I am guilty of doing myself) can probably be forgiven. If it’s good enough for J.K. Rowling…

The Time Apprentice is much better than its predecessor – and left me thinking that when the next “Greenwich Chronicle” comes out I will actually buy and read it – without the need for it to come bundled with something else…


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