Time Shifters: Into the Past: (Time Shifters Book 1) by Kate Frost
Time-shifted to the past, three twenty-first century children fight to survive or risk being lost in time forever.
When Maisie Brown is time-shifted to 1471 during a school trip to Warwick Castle, it’s the beginning of an incredible adventure. The only problem is she has to share it with Lizzie, the class bully, instead of her best friend Danny. He’s managed to get caught up with an army marching to battle.
Determined to save him, Maisie and Lizzie leave the safety of the castle. Battling against everything that Medieval England throws at them, the girls find unexpected help from a Lord with a surprising secret and discover that two mysterious hooded riders are hunting them. With time running out to find Danny, they realise they have the unlikeliest of allies.
The chase is on. Will they be stuck in the past, or can they find a way home before being time-shifted again?
Sherry Terry’s Review: 4.3-Stars
I like the cover. It gives off a mysterious vibe that makes me pick up the book and look at it.
Love the way it starts. Kids on a field trip to a castle, what’s not to like about that? When the main character, Maisie is shifted into 1471, she is stuck with the school bully Lizzie. Maisie spots her best friend, Danny mixed in with an army leaving for The War of the Roses.
Kate Frost did a splendid job with the setting and descriptions, and with the great addition of smell and texture, I was transported into the past. The only thing that pulled me out of the story was all the camping gear they got from a helpful friend (also time-shifted from the future). The gas camping stove was a bit over the top.
Kate did a good job of making me dislike Lizzie to the point I wanted to just leave her behind. Arguing causes the time shifts if they are in the right spot, but it won’t send them to the right time. I like that idea, nice twist. But… Lizzie did get a little tiring.
There is some good intrigue with mysterious strangers chasing them as they hop through time, meet their future selves, and take you on a little history lesson along the way. Overall, I loved the book and think it is a good read for 11, 12, 13-year-olds.
Diane Andersen’s Review: 3.5-Stars
Writing time-slip novels is always a challenge in both keeping all the loose ends straight from present to past and then back to the present once again. And then there is the inevitable issue of confusing the reader will too much juggling of past and present without leaving a huge gaping plot hole. While I do love the possibilities time travel could bring, when it comes to bringing it to life in fiction, there are very few authors who can truly utilize this device effectively. In the case of this week’s book, “Time Shifters” makes a valiant and charming attempt at using a time slip trope to teach about the past and engage readers in historic events. However, like most time slip devices, this one falls quite short of its goal, if that was indeed the goal at all.
At first, I was very excited to read this story that started off on all the right notes for a middle grade to young adult novel. Middle school friends, Maizie, Lizzie, and Danny, are on a field trip to Warwick Castle, a key setting in the empire defining War of the Roses. When they are mysteriously transported to the year 1471, they are at a loss as to how to survive in a world without modern conveniences, let alone during a tumultuous time and no idea of how to return home to the 21st century. Conditions continue to worsen when they find they are being pursued by a mysterious pair of 23rd-century criminals who hunt time shifters as “community service” rather than face prison.
All that seems to have the makings of one very riveting, fast-paced novel for middle school readers and possibly even adults, like me, who can appreciate a good story regardless of the target audience. Unfortunately, I found far too many issues making this one not heartily recommend to anyone, let alone young readers. If a story is going to attempt a time slip into a defining moment in history, I would expect that to be the focus. I would actually want to meet Richard Warwick or King Edward or even Princess Elizabeth, the future mother of Henry VIII. Instead, the reader is subjected to chapter upon chapter of our intrepid trio stumbling through the past on their own, encountering the most mundane of circumstances (working in taverns, sleeping on straw), and worst of all, bickering over every little thing. There were times I really wanted to jump into the book and knock them back into the future. Instead, I kept putting the book down, dreading having to pick it up again.
Perhaps if I had not already been immersed in this era, having just read another novel on the War of the Roses, I might’ve found this adolescent bickering less irritating. But a tremendous opportunity was missed here, nonetheless: to use historical fiction to engage kids into the past as a teaching moment through the art of storytelling and encourage reading. At the very least, I would hope young readers will whet their appetite enough to pursue more reading on their own in spite of the lack of historical grounding here. And yet why? There wasn’t much to go on and, had I not already been reading a story about this time period and knew the historical characters, I doubt any detail would have made any sort of impression at all, let alone any sense of the significance of these events.
To add even more confusion, the kids continue to time-shift into later periods without any real context or engagement. From 1471 they land in the Plague Year of 1666, right amidst the Great London Fire and then time jump briefly to the 18th century before finally landing home, conveniently with the help of their older selves who travel back just in time to meet them and save the day. Everything about this story is confusing and deceptive, including the cover which promises a dark, eerie tale of mystery and mayhem only to be given three bickering buddies who haplessly romp through time for no apparent purpose. There’s a whimsical, comedic element to this entire tale that wraps everything up neatly in one nice bow by the end, but that’s not nearly enough to make this worth the read unless that is all one is looking for. In this case, you really can’t tell a book by its cover. For that, I can only give this 3.5 stars.
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