BOOK REVIEW: Janet B. Taylor’s INTO THE DIM Is A Captivating Time Travel Adventure

INTO THE DIM is a wicked adventure through time!

Debut author Janet B. Taylor’s Into The Dim is being advertised as “Outlander for teens,” complete with a great blurb from Outlander series author Diana Gabaldon. Even though we love Outlander, we were worried at first. Historical fiction is tricky and we never want our reading experiences for different series to be too alike. But we have good news! While there are a few points of comparison like time travel, romance, and a jaunt through the gorgeous Scottish countryside, Into The Dim holds its own with a wonderful premise, interesting characters, and a helluva lot of fun!

Hope Walton’s mother has sheltered her from the world, catering to her photographic memory and many complex phobias since she was a child at the expense of social interaction and a normal childhood. Now her mother is dead. Hope’s stepfather, whose family never truly accepted her as one of their own, sends her to stay with a maternal aunt in Scotland. The teen has never met her Aunt Lucinda or the eclectic group living at Christopher Manor before, but what she discovers there is far beyond her imagination.

Hope soon discovers that her mother comes from a family of Viators, time travelers tasked with preserving the past from others who wish to unravel it for their advantage. She discovers that her mother is not dead, simply stuck in the past– The year 1154, to be exact. With strict rules in place for time travel and one failed rescue already attempted, Lucinda and most of the other Viators can’t return to the time period again. Wildly unprepared Hope is asked to do the impossible: Travel back to the medieval ages with two semi-experienced teen Viators, Phoebe and Collum, and rescue her mother in three days’ time without being caught by their time traveling enemies.

The three teens are thrust into the court of Eleanor of Aquitaine, one of England’s most infamous queens. As if it isn’t complicated enough, there are new troubles when they discover that a mythical object believed to erase the natural rules and limitations of time travel may be hidden in their midst. How can they manage to find her mother, avoid their rivals, solve the mystery of The Nonius Stone, and make it back in time?

Into The Dim takes a little while to get into the thick of its time travel adventure. There’s a lot of set-up, for Hope on the personal level and for the process of time travel, but it’s necessary for the story and not without its quirky fun. Once they do switch centuries, however, the novel went by at top speed. This book is so readable!

Our main character Hope wasn’t as personable as we’d hoped at times, in part thanks to her sheltered upbringing and many phobias, but you definitely see her progress as the story moves on. Janet B. Taylor makes up for it with deliciously spunky Viator, Phoebe, and her stern but secretly soft-hearted brother, Collum. While they know time travel, they both still have a young and unpredictable edge that keeps things interesting. Also important are Bran Cameron, the mysterious boy Hope meets on the outskirts of Christopher Manor with whom she feels a strange connection, and Rachel, a young Jewish girl in the medieval era who has hopelessly fallen for the Christian captain of the guard.

Admittedly, we struggled a bit with the antagonist of the story, rival “Timeslipper” Celia Alvarez, who has a dark history involving Hope’s mother, Sarah. She was a clever, manipulative force in the story and we’ve got to applaud her for that, but her motivations weren’t quite as realistic as we’d hoped.

As for romance? It’s definitely there, but it’s not overwhelming. Hope and her Scot are definitely cute but they came together a little too quickly without enough convincing interaction. This niggled us a bit because there’s another very interesting suitor available with whom we though Hope had more chemistry, but we’re really glad Janet B. Taylor does not introduce a love triangle. Hopefully in Book 2, the romance element will shine a little more.

We’re not history experts, but we think the author did an incredible job mixing history with her own mythology. There’s always a little extra leeway for female characters that you wouldn’t expect in the medieval era, but adding in the legendary Eleanor of Aquitaine, one of earliest supporters of gender equality, was a great way to keep it sensible. Perhaps the only issue we had is that the twists in the story– there’s more than one!– were hinted at quite a bit and thus were too easy to predict. Still, we enjoyed the confirmation, the big “I knew it!”

Into The Dim is a captivating take on time travel and though the debut wasn’t always perfect, we’re definitely invested and we can’t wait to see where Hope’s journey takes her in next year’s sequel!

RATING: 4 out of 5 stars

Into the Dim hits shelves on March 1, 2016. You can order it now!


Official Synopsis:

When fragile, sixteen-year-old Hope Walton loses her mom to an earthquake overseas, her secluded world crumbles. Agreeing to spend the summer in Scotland, Hope discovers that her mother was more than a brilliant academic, but also a member of a secret society of time travelers. Trapped in the twelfth century in the age of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Hope has seventy-two hours to rescue her mother and get back to their own time. Along the way, her path collides with that of a mysterious boy who could be vital to her mission . . . or the key to Hope’s undoing.

By Molly

Molly is a proud Canadian who is currently attending university in Scotland. She loves to read, write, watch films, and talk about Sarah J. Maas books. If not snuggled up with a book, Molly can usually be found tapping at the dance studio, or writing yet another essay.