Thursday, 18 August 2011

Book Review: Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

Book:  Ruby Red (Eidelstein-Trilogie #1) by Kerstin Gier, translated by Anthea Bell, Henry Holt & Co.,  2011 (first published in German in 2009), 324 pages.

Source:  won in contest from My Bookish Ways and the publisher - thank you so much!!

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Gwyneth Shepherd's sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for traveling through time. But unexpectedly, it is Gwyneth, who in the middle of class takes a sudden spin to a different era!

Gwyneth must now unearth the mystery of why her mother would lie about her birth date to ward off suspicion about her ability, brush up on her history, and work with Gideon--the time traveler from a similarly gifted family that passes the gene through its male line, and whose presence becomes, in time, less insufferable and more essential. Together, Gwyneth and Gideon journey through time to discover who, in the 18th century and in contemporary London, they can trust.

My Thoughts:
I really enjoyed reading this book, it kept me reading and was fairly quick, but also had a good amount of suspense, mystery and intrigue.  In fact, each chapter was written to keep the reader wanting more.  Even the cover is quite beautiful and drew me in.

The story is told in the first person and takes place in present day London, with time traveling to Victorian London.  Gwyneth has just learned that she has inherited the family gene for time traveling.  Everyone thought her cousin Charlotte was the one who had inherited the gene, so Gwen has not been prepared while Charlotte has been.  This sets up a rivalry between Gwen and Charlotte when they realize that the table have been turned, and I anticipate some interesting things in the rest of the series.  I can totally picture the whole family dynamics that took place, right down to the matriarch grandmother and the snobby aunt.

Gwyneth is an interesting character, but at the same time can be quite mindless and forgetful.  Most of the time this makes her endearing and funny, but occasionally this does get annoying.  She also shows some good growth during the book with the potential for a lot more in the next books.  I love her enthusiasm and the way that she jumps right in when she realizes that she is a time traveler, but also her trepidation in telling her mother is also real and understandable coming from a teen aged girl.  Gwen's best friend, Lesley is great and is a nice foil for Gwen - she is smart and enthusiastic and the relationship between her and Gwen seems authentic.

Then there is the good looking and charming Gideon, who is set up to be the perfect romantic interest.  He is a relatively minor character in this book, with the potential to be a great character in the next one.  The only thing that bothers me about his character was the ending - I felt that his reactions to what happened at the end were a bit forced.

My other frustration with the book was Gwen's mother.  I could not understand why she would not sit down with Gwen and tell her what was going on, especially after Gwen started time traveling.  However, she probably has her reasons which may come out in the next books.

I really enjoyed the story and the time traveling.  There is lots of detail and what feels like a good historical accuracy.  It certainly leaves the reader wanting to know more and there is foreshadowing of big things to come.  I except the second in the series, Sapphire Blue, whose translation is due out next year, to be quite exciting and explosive.  At times it felt like this book spent most of its time setting up the bigger story, which left this one a little bit unsatisfying, but I am willing to forgive this because I think it is setting up something great.  I would highly recommend this book for anyone interested in young adult fantasy, especially if they like time traveling.


  1. Fantastic review! I was on the fence about this one, but I think I'll pick it up and read it. I'm sorry to hear about the big setup to an unsatisfying end, though. I think I'll still try it though. It just sounds so interesting!

  2. Thanks, I did still love the book and can't wait for the next one!

  3. I've seen this a lot over at other blogs! That's it. I'm buying this.

  4. Ruby Red is one of the most enjoyable books I've read in a long time. It's entertaining, humorous, and original. Gier has created a unique concept of time traveling in that there are only 12 time travelers born within two different family branches (as far as we know, anyway) and it can only be controlled by a device that uses the time traveler's blood to fuel it. I also liked the addition of the secret society and the inclusion of Count Saint-Germain in the story.

    The main character, Gwyneth, is very relatable. I liked her relationship with her best friend Leslie, and especially liked that she didn't even try to keep her time traveling abilities a secret. Instead, Leslie is Gwyneth's main confidante and helps by doing research on various things that Gwyneth needs information on. I actually loved all the characters -- the reader gets to see how their personalities change in front of different people or in different sorts of situations, which added an extra level of complexity and entertainment.

    1. Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I agree with you and have just been wondering when the next book is out...


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