Take a time-travelling teen, add in mystery and romance and high school and a few socially prominent (in the 18th century, anyway) ghosts and demons, and you have the Ruby Red trilogy. It is flat out fun to read.
16 year old Charlotte has spent her entire life preparing to time travel. She comes from a long line of female time travellers, was born on the predicted day, and has been feeling dizzy lately. She is foretold to be the Ruby of prophesy, to close the Circle of Twelve. Except she isn’t, and so doesn’t.
Gwyneth, Charlotte’s one-day younger and far less prepared cousin, is walking home from school one day when she feels overcome with dizziness and ends up a few decades (give or take) in the past. But only for a moment or two. This was unexpected. She returns to her time, doesn’t tell a soul, freaks out and travels two more times before she realizes that MAYBE her mum could help. She does come from a long line of travellers, after all. She might be believed.
But it does end up being more trouble than it is worth. Not only is she used by the Guardians to solve a mystery, the travelling opens up even more puzzles. Together, she and Gideon, a fellow traveller from a male line, journey through time to discover who they can trust, in the past and the present.
Gwyneth is a fun character. She’s totally unprepared for her new life, and totally unprepared for Gideon. Yes, she got on my nerves a few times, was a bit weak and whiny, but I can forgive her that, given the path her life suddenly took. Her ability to talk to and interact with ghosts is hilarious, and leads to some interesting exchanges with other people who don’t know about her odd talent. She is friendly and generally up for an adventure. Cries a lot, though.
Gideon bugs me. He is totally not my type. (Which is good, as given the difference in our ages, I could get arrested…) But who said teens make good choices? I’m sure he’s hot and a great kisser, but a bit superior. That said, their relationship made for some fun moments.
Lesley is hilarious, Charlotte is the PERFECT snob cousin that you just itch to put in her place, Grace and Glenda and Arista and Louis and Mr. Squirrel and the Count and James and Xemerius and the rest are all well written characters that move the story along so well.
I loved that the whole idea of time travel wasn’t overthought. It’s just something that can happen to certain members of certain families when they reach a certain age. No other explanation needed. The whole idea of time travel gives me a headache anyway.
The story moves along nicely through the three books. The writing is good. The ideas are fun, it doesn’t lag at all. I liked that I did not know who to trust until the very end of the third book. The traitor was hidden beneath my very nose the whole time.
In the end, I liked, not loved, this trilogy, but that is not a criticism. If you are expecting Shakespeare, Ruby Red, Sapphire Blue and Emerald Green are not for you. If you want a fast-paced fantasy with an original plot and a cute romance, read this series. It is fun and appropriate for all ages.
The Ruby Red trilogy is published by Henry Holt.