Title: The Timepiece and the Girl Who Went Astray
Author: O. R. Simmonds
Publisher: Apellation Press
Publication date: July 30, 2021
Genre: Mystery, Fantasy
One Sentence Summary: Sent to a certain thrift shop by his girlfriend, Will ends up in the possession of an odd watch called the Timepiece and on the run to escape those who want it, all while trying to figure out where in time his girlfriend went.
The Timepiece and the Girl Who Went Astray is a delightful romp through time with unforgettable characters and incredibly detailed and well-thought out time travel. While it doesn’t quite have as much mystery as I anticipated, the time travel component was so impeccably done and the characters so well-developed that I quickly forgot about it and was quite happy to let myself be swept up in Will and Frenz’s adventures. There’s never really a chance to rest and they never really seem to catch a break, but they have a lot riding on what they do, and they do not disappointed. For fans of time travel, this indie book is not to be missed.
William Wells is an American (illegally) living in London, living with his girlfriend and trying to get by while she works a top secret job. One day, Abigayle tells him to visit a certain shop, so, after spending most of the day getting lost, he does. Only to end up in possession of a seriously strange watch called the Timepiece, and witness to a murder.
The watch doesn’t make things any easier for Will. Instead, it sends him on the run when Abigayle uses the watch and ends up essentially lost in time, with him as the prime suspect in her disappearance, not to mention in the murder of the Timepiece’s last owner. With a former Timekeeper as his companion, Will jumps back and forth in time, trying keep one step in front of the man racing after him for the Timepiece while trying to figure out when in time Abigayle is.
Just like every other time travel book I’ve ever read, the time travel confuses me. It’s impossible for me to keep track of the back and forth in time, to line up time points to figure out exactly what’s happening. But it did not impede my enjoyment of The Timepiece and the Girl Who Went Astray. I loved that everything about the time travel and how it worked made complete sense. It was incredibly well-thought out and answered all the questions it brought up in my mind.
The Timepiece and the Girl Who Went Astray was a fun, albeit a bit confusing, romp through time across parts of the UK. I really enjoyed the differences between different years that were pointed out, and especially enjoyed one of Will’s lasts trips through time as it was also a fun commentary on current times. I do wish the story had been a little more layered, a little more expanded to include more history, though. Will is supposedly interested in history, so I was a little disappointed when he seemed so unfamiliar with the city considering he easily became lost. It was also disappointing he never took the opportunity to discuss the history of London and more of the landmarks to add depth and more local flavor to the story.
But I really did like Will. All of the characters were delightful, from the bad guys to the good guys. I never once mixed them up. They were all distinct and so much fun. I especially loved the way Will and his companion, former Timekeeper Frenz, interacted. It was warm and I loved how it seamlessly transitioned from mentor and mentee to friends. They were wonderful and I loved them to pieces. What I particularly enjoyed, though, was Will did feel American to me. Simmonds did a wonderful job of not making him sound British, so he felt distinctly different from all the other characters.
Nothing seems to go quite right for Will and something is always around the corner to stop him. It’s fast-paced and Will and Frenz never seem to catch a break, but they’re immensely quick and resourceful and work off of each other really well. They’re ideal partners, and just overall fun. I loved how the story just seemed to relentlessly push forward, giving neither characters nor reader a break. The back and forth in time slowed me down a little, though I do think Simmonds did his best to make everything clear to readers; I just get confused trying to reconcile events and times for myself.
The Timepiece and the Girl Who Went Astray is a delightful read. Not quite the mystery I expected it to be, it was still a fun, fast-paced read with great characters. The mystery is set up early on and there are characters introduced on that front, but it sometimes felt like an afterthought and I had trouble following along with what was happening. It made the ending slightly confusing to me and a bit out of sync with earlier pieces, but it does make me wonder if there might be a book two. While I didn’t miss the mystery while reading, when I came out of the book I did wish it had been a little stronger, that maybe the story had slowed down a little to really explore and incorporate both the history and the mystery.
The Timepiece and the Girl Who Went Astray is a wonderful time travel book that makes a ton of sense and has very detailed rules. It deals with the consequences of playing with time and effortlessly crafts a compelling story around it. I never once questioned a character’s motivation, especially as it related to the time travel. As a matter of fact, I thoroughly enjoyed it and found every part of this book worked perfectly like a well-oiled clock. There’s no mention of this being part of a series, but it’s one of those rare books where I really want a second one.
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Thank you to O. R. Simmonds for a review copy. All opinions expressed are my own.