Reviewed by Wendy Hawkin
Kelley Armstrong is a wickedly voracious writer who often pens two series simultaneously, sometimes while writing or editing other projects as well. Still, she manages all with equal enthusiasm, detail, and creativity. I honestly don’t know how she does it. The woman must never sleep.
After Rockton’s demise, she followed the characters to a new, wild Yukon city: Haven’s Rock. Now, she’s flown across the sea and back through time to give us another new series that blends fantasy, mystery, and historical fiction.
A Rip Through Time, the first book in this series, introduces a brand new, eclectic cast of characters. Like Rockton’s Casey Duncan, Mallory Atkinson is a strong, clever thirty-year-old homicide detective. On May 20, 2019, she’s in Edinburgh, Scotland caring for her dying grandmother. When she goes out for coffee, she bumps into a man in the shop, and apologizes—she is, after all, Canadian. On her way back to the hospital, she hears a woman cry out in a shadowy alley and goes to investigate. There, she glimpses the woman and her attacker; then feels a coarse rope around her neck. Mallory passes out and when she awakens, finds herself in the body of the other victim, Catriona Mitchell, a nineteen-year-old maid who lives and works in the home of an undertaker. The date? May 20, 1869.
Timeslip is fascinating to read and write. It takes tremendous research as you’re effectively writing historical fiction mixed with sci-fi/fantasy, and in this case, crime. Armstrong has taken the time to, not only do an enormous amount of research on Victorian Scotland, but provide a “Selected & Complete Research Bibliography” on her website. Armstrong says, “It’s not just knowing whether an item was invented by that time (or out of fashion by that time.) It’s the language, the customs, the concepts, the ideas…”
Mallory Atkinson (wearing Catriona’s body) is as cerebral as Sherlock Holmes, and we process these timeslip issues along with her. She slips in and out of Victorian English and contemporary casual speech as we move from her thoughts to her encounters with the handsome Dr. Duncan Gray and his independent sister, Isla. Catriona’s miraculous personality change gains her a position as, not just Gray’s housemaid, but his forensic assistant. Yes, Gray is a little dense when it comes to women, and accepts that his maid has changed dramatically due to a bump on the head. Then the bodies start to fall, and Mallory realizes she didn’t slip through this time rip alone.
The close first-person point-of-view draws the reader into the mind of the analytical protagonist as she struggles to, not only understand her predicament, but survive and overcome it, then find a way home.
Reminiscent of Outlander, Armstrong’s newest series is Intelligent, detailed, and original; definitely a series to watch. Will Mallory return to her time? Or will she win the heart of Dr. Gray and decide to stay? Will they catch the serial killer who eludes them? Or will other criminals fall through the rip in time as well?
A Rip Through Time is published by Minotaur Books, 2022
W. L. Hawkin writes books with “myth, magic, and mayhem” for Blue Haven Press. Her latest Lure: Jesse & Hawk is a romantic suspense novel with small-town grit.