Published: February 26th 2002
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Details: Paperback, 317 pages
My Rating: 1/5
Stand-alone novel about Kate and Jarrod who time travel to medieval England in order to prevent a curse to be casted on Jarrod’s family. First half of the book dragged, but it got slightly better in the second half – the time travel section. My main problems were Jarrod who was a wimp and the simplistic plot & writing, which was too young adult for me. Probably ok for younger teens.
A few chapters in:
Witchcraft, time travel and romance. A (gasp!) stand-alone book, almost never heard of in the young adult paranormal genre these days. And finally, written by Marianne Curley, an Australian author I’ve been curious about for some time.(She is also the author of the highly acclaimed The Guardians of Time Trilogy.)
All of the above, combined with the fact that it was standing there literally waiting for me while I was browsing the library shelf for something to read, made me pick it up.
I’m now a few chapters in, and while it’s an OK read, I’m not feeling completely converted just yet.
Kate is a witch. Meaning, she knows how to cast minor spells such as turning on the radio in the next room or fast-forwarding the minute-hands on the clock. Her speciality however is to get inside people’s heads in order to sense their general feelings.
Witchcraft runs in her family, all though the only family she’s ever known is her granny with whom she lives. Her mom abandoned her when she was only an infant. Because of her and her granny’s abilities, they have a bit of a reputation in the small town of Ashpeak where they live.
One day in school, Jarrod, the new guy arrives. Kate immediately senses that something is different about him. When Jarrod is being teased by the other guys in class, a storm is suddenly conjured up out of thin air, throwing things around within the walls of the class room. What Kate suspected before is confirmed. Jarrod has some serious magical powers.
Problem is, he is not aware of it, and he refuses to listen to Kate, who he believes is one crazy witch.
This is as far as I’ve got. I’m liking the fact that we’ve got alternating POV’s following both Kate’s and Jarrod’s thoughts. Yet, like I said before, I don’t feel any pull towards it. Hoping to feel it though, as I read more.
After finishing the book:
On finishing this book, I had a similar feeling to when I finished A Great and Terribly Beauty by Libba Bray. That the writing was good, but the story failed to pull me in, and in both cases I suspect it was because I am considerably older than the target audience.
As for the review:
Well, as I mentioned, the first half of the book dragged, to the point that I almost gave up. We are given Kate’s background story of being an outcast, due to being a witch, in the small village of Ashpeak where she and her grandma live. Enters Jarrod, the new guy in town, and he and Kate start a wary friendship. Wary because Jarrod – spineless as he is – is too afraid to acknowledge outcast Kate in school – as to not lose popularity himself.
They do however get to know each other better (off school) and as they do, Kate realizes two things. 1) Jarrod has powerful magical powers and 2) His family is unusually accident-prone, to the point that she suspects a curse has been placed upon them. After this realization, she repeatedly (and I mean literally repeatedly) tries to convince Jarrod to see this truth, while Jarrod repeatedly denies it. And this goes on..and on..and on..and on..until I was ready to throw the book into a wall.
Then just as the book was about to fly, Jarrod finally makes up his mind to follow Kate on a time travel to meet with his ancestors in medieval England in order to prevent the curse (which they believe was casted around that time era).
Here the pace picks up, and I gathered enough interest to keep going. Kate and Jarrod visit the ancestors Lord Thorntyne and his family at their castle – and are welcomed in. Not long after, it’s made very clear who the source of the curse is. There is this illegitimate brother – Rhauk – who lives in a neighbouring castle called the Blacklands (sounds evil anyone?), and who is looking to revenge his lost inheritance with a curse. The question is now, will the clumsy wimp known as Jarrod gather enough strength and magical powers to beat the powerful magician Rhauk, thus destroying the curse in the process?
Well, as much as I want to avoid spoilers, I can’t pretend the ending was a surprise. And believe me, as you are reading it you will know the end way before time as well. The plot was as predictable as a child story. I would have needed more subplots or twists and turns to keep me interested. This was simply put, too simplistic.
There is also a romance between Kate and Jarrod, which never pulled me in either. Kate was such a strong and mature girl, and I couldn’t fathom how she could ever be interested in Jarrod, let alone go through so much trouble to save him and his family from a curse. She mutters herself quite a few times how she thinks that Jarrod is a spineless wimp. So I found it hard to believe in the romantic connection that they supposedly shared. Granted, Jarrod does change towards the very end, but it was a bit too late for me.
The Bottom Line:
All that being said, the book wasn’t completely bad, meaning I’ve read worse. It did redeem itself slightly towards the end. And, like I said when reviewing A Great and Terrible Beauty, had I been say 14 years of age, chances are I would have loved it.
As for now, I’m contemplating whether to read more of Curley’s books. Her trilogy The Guardians of Time has received high praise but after reading this debut novel of hers.. let’s just say, that trilogy just moved down a couple of notches on my TBR-list.