Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Sapphire Blue, Kerstin Gier (translated by Anthea Bell)

Sapphire Blue (Precious Stone Trilogy, #2)The streets of Southwark were dark and deserted. The air smelled of waterweeds, sewage, and dead fish.

"Gwen’s life has been a rollercoaster since she discovered she was the Ruby, the final member of the secret time-traveling Circle of Twelve. In between searching through history for the other time-travelers and asking for a bit of their blood (gross!), she’s been trying to figure out what all the mysteries and prophecies surrounding the Circle really mean. At least Gwen has plenty of help. Her best friend Lesley follows every lead diligently on the Internet. James the ghost teaches Gwen how to fit in at an eighteenth century party. And Xemerius, the gargoyle demon who has been following Gwen since he caught her kissing Gideon in a church, offers advice on everything. Oh, yes. And of course there is Gideon, the Diamond. One minute he’s very warm indeed; the next he’s freezing cold. Gwen’s not sure what’s going on there, but she’s pretty much destined to find out."

I enjoyed this sequel to Ruby Red; there's a lot more actual time-travelling than the first book, with Gwyneth figuring out all sorts of new things about the mysterious world she's now part of. I must say that this series is a little weird in terms of the whole secret order; none of them want to tell our main character anything, and that didn't make a whole lot of sense. She is, after all, now part of the group. Gideon was also quite annoying; I was never sure what he was thinking or why he did what he did. It was odd, and that aspect was kind of exasperating. I also kind of wished that Gwen would just talk to him. The ending with Gideon was quite a cliffhanger; I wasn't sure what to think. Luckily, I have a copy of the final book, Emerald Green, and I'm definitely reading that next. That's the advantage to waiting until the whole series is released.

However, there's plenty of action, intrigue, and adventure in this novel, and that's what redeemed it. The time travel thread itself is so marvelous, especially since it creates these complex situations where the characters don't know if their future selves are going to do something or what. It's like not even knowing yourself or what you believe or what you're going to do. No one is quite sure who's on their side, and Gwen isn't even sure of which side is the right one. 

This is a fantasy series you can just lose yourself in; the characters are skipping through centuries, and there are some evocative portrayals of England at different times. Gwen is also such an amusing narrator; she can be rather thick at times, but it's always humorous to read from her perspective, and her voice is quite distinct, very British and teenager-like, but maybe a little off-kilter. Whether this is due to the translation from German I couldn't say. She also almost always has a snappy retort to various people's criticisms. 

Anyway, the overall plot of this series is rather confusing, with all the different names, and sometimes what's going on doesn't make total sense, but nevertheless, it's really entertaining and absorbing. The time travel was definitely my favorite aspect; additionally, as in the first book, there are some great descriptions of period clothing. I'm not going to say this series is like Downton Abbey, because it's not, but there's definitely some of that element there. 

What with all the hopping through time, I tend to forget that the first two books only take place in the future over the span of about one week. However, more broadly speaking, they take place over a couple hundred years. 

My favorite new character was definitely Xemerius, the gargoyle demon who Gwen picked up in the church. He's really humorous, and of course only Gwen can see him.

There's lots of new intrigue in Sapphire Blue, and one is never sure who's good and who's evil; hopefully all will be revealed in the third book, Emerald Green. One thing: I'm not really sure why the book's title is Sapphire Blue. Lucy Montrose is the sapphire, but she doesn't really play a critical part in the book.

354 pages.

Rating: ****

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