By Felix J. Palma
Atria Books, $26.00
Set in Victorian London with characters real and imagined, The Map of Time boasts a triple-play of intertwined plots in which a skeptical H.G. Wells is called upon to investigate purported incidents of time travel and thereby save the lives of an aristocrat in love with a murdered prostitute from the past; of a woman bent on fleeing the strictures of Victorian society; and of his very own wife, who may have become a pawn in a 4th-dimensional plot to murder the authors of Dracula, The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds, in order to alter their identities and steal their fictional creations.
But, what happens if we change history? FÉlix J. Palma raises such questions in The Map of Time. Mingling fictional characters with real ones, Palma weaves a historical fantasy as imaginative as it is exciting, a story full of love and adventure that also pays homage to the roots of science fiction while transporting its readers to a fascinating Victorian London for their own taste of time travel.
I have to start by saying that I liked this book enough to go out and buy it with my own pennies just so I could finish it. I had been sent an e-galley of Felix J. Palma's The Map of Time that sadly timed out on my computer before I was done reading. And I am glad that I had to go buy a copy. If nothing else but to see the gorgeous cover! I'll paste in the clearest cover image that I can find below. The attention to detail is stunning. This all comes on the heels of an interview that I just completed with another author (I'll post it here soon) and we'd veered off a bit and were both lamenting that book covers now seem to be more simple and less works of art, simply because a lot of people buy books online and the publisher knows that the buyer won't SEE the works of art that so many covers used to be. Not so with The Map of Time! The cover art for the US version is gorgeous, it very easily could be a lithograph, framed and hanging on a gallery wall! OK enough about the cover.
The Map of Time is a complex and intricately woven tale, its divided into three parts, all connecting, but still separate. To me, its "steampunk" on its own level with the legendary H.G. Wells popping up through out the story. And it's useless to say that when you have H.G. Wells in the story, can some sort of time travel be far behind? And this time with a love story woven through out.
I found Palma's characters well written and my suspension of disbelief fully engaged. The Map of Time was first published in 2008 and was later translated from the author's native Spanish into English in 2011 for the UK and the US audiences. I was happy to learn that it was a translation when I searched around a bit, as some of the wording seemed a bit "off" to me and when I confirmed this I was happy to over look some occasional awkwardness in words and phrasing. I wish I could read Spanish as I'd love to be able to read this as it was written.
I can't give too much away here, as I don't want to spoil the read, so suffice it to say, I liked it. I give it 3 out of 5 stars. Go buy the book or check it out from the library, you need to see that cover close up!
* Cover art copyright: Atria Books
This review copy was originally provided to me by the publisher in a time sensitive, expiring e-galley format and in no way affected my review, however I did finally purchase the book with my own funds on order to complete the review.