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Book Review & Giveaway: The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma

Title: The Map of Time

Author: Felix J. Palma

Genre: Literary Fiction, Speculative Fiction, Historical, Victorian

Publisher: Atria (US)/Algaida (Spain)
Publication Date: June 2011 (US)/October 2008 (Spain)
Hardcover: 611 Pages

Set in Victorian London with characters real and imagined, The Map of Time boasts a triple-play of intertwined plots in which a skeptical H.G. Wells is called upon to investigate purported incidents of time travel and thereby save the lives of an aristocrat in love with a murdered prostitute from the past; of a woman bent on fleeing the strictures of Victorian society; and of his very own wife, who may have become a pawn in a 4th-dimensional plot to murder the authors of Dracula, The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds, in order to alter their identities and steal their fictional creations.

But, what happens if we change history? Felix J. Palma raises such questions in The Map of Time. Mingling fictional characters with real ones, Palma weaves a historical fantasy as imaginative as it is exciting, a story full of love and adventure that also pays homage to the roots of science fiction while transporting its readers to a fascinating Victorian London for their own taste of time travel.

Stand alone or series: Stand alone novel

How did I get this book: e-ARC via Galley Grab

Why did I read this book: Consider: the gorgeous cover, to which an entire website is devoted in explanation of the different elements; the glowing blurbs from every department at Atria, librarians, and international critics; the promise of a time travel story featuring a fitting hero, H.G. Wells.

Review:

The year is 1896, the place a dreary Victorian London. On this particular evening, the melancholy Andrew Harrington ruminates over which gun he should use to take his own life. So begins The Map of Time, a gargantuan novel told in three parts. In part the first, young lordling Harrington mourns the loss of his lover Marie Kelly, a common Whitechapel whore, eight years earlier. Because of Harrington’s cowardice, his beloved was murdered by notorious killer Jack the Ripper in that Year of Terror, 1888. Before the grieving Andrew can pull the trigger to end his misery, however, he is stopped by his dear cousin, Lord Charles Winslow. Winslow implores him to seek out help from one Mr. Gilliam Murphy, who has recently taken London by storm as he has devised a way to travel to the far future year 2000, in which London is devastated by vindictive automatons that have destroyed the planet and humanity’s last hope resides in a noble champion, Captain Derek Shackleton.1 Mr. Murphy is unable to help the depressed and suicidal young man as his method of time travel is restricted only to one day in the future year 2000 – though he does recommend Andrew visit famous author H.G. Wells, whom Murphy believes possesses a time machine with the ability to go both directions in the temporal plane. It is now, finally, that we are introduced to the protagonist of The Map of Time, in the small-framed figure of Herbert George Wells. Soon, the author finds himself caught up in the young Mr. Harrington’s dilemma, and agrees to help him on his quest through time to save his lost love.

The second part of The Map of Time tells the story of the vivacious Lady Claire Haggarty, a young woman who despises her station in life and longs for adventure. When she learns of Gilliam Murphy’s fantastical expeditions to the year 2000, offered to the rich for a pretty sum, Claire immediately knows that this is the opportunity she has longed for her entire life, and she concocts a plan to find a way to slip away from the caravan and find a new home in the war-torn future. Against all odds, Claire finds herself falling in love with the brave Captain Derek Shackleton, savior of the human race. Of course, things are never quite what they seem when time travel is involved, and H.G. Wells finds himself once again drawn into this story as he is commissioned by a young man to write letters to the lovely Claire, seemingly across the fabric of time and space.

The third part belongs to H.G. Wells himself, as he finally becomes the central character in his own story. A rash of murders breaks out in London, apparently caused by a future time traveler. It seems that Wells and two of his contemporaries Henry James, and Bram Stoker have been singled out by this mysterious figure – and Wells must stretch his considerable imagination and intellect if he is to discover the truth and survive.

Released to a flurry of glowing reviews and emblazoned with a number impressive descriptive quotations, The Map of Time is one of the most talked about books of the summer, spanning both literary speculative fiction circles. The problem with hype, however, is that the book – for some person, at some point – will not be able to stack up to those lofty expectations. While I generally liked the ideas behind The Map of Time, while the novel had moments of brilliance, overall it could not quite live up to the exuberant praise that preceded it. Which is not to say The Map of Time is a bad book, because it’s not. Rather, the novel simply fails to live up to its promise.

The first thing to note regarding the book is that rather than a true, linear story, The Map of TIme is more of a collection of three disparate stories that are only marginally tied together by the involvement of one dubious protagonist, Mr. H.G. “Bertie” Wells. Playing with some remarkable themes and ideas, The Map of Time has incredible potential and flashes of brilliance. While the novel begins slowly and stumbles through its first 200 pages or so (an experience only exacerbated by its focus on the rather unsympathetic character of Andrew Harrington), by the time Wells makes an appearance the novel begins to gather steam. Characters are not the strong suit of The Map of Time, but I did love the questions that were raised in both the first and second parts. The twin themes of deception and hope run through the book and are effectively related by Mr. Palma, though my favorite parts of the involved different characters challenging the nature of time travel, addressing its paradoxes and science from a unique and convincing Victorian perspective. There are also hoaxes and scams and surprises along the way, and all are carried out wonderfully. Unfortunately, the problems arise with the advent of the book’s third and final act, in which the author refutes the challenges to time travel and careful buildup of the first two parts and strays into cockamamie bad-Audrey-Niffenegger The Time Traveler’s Wife meets X-Men territory. Piling contrivance upon contrivance, I was mystified with the direction in which Mr. Palma decided to take his readers with the last 200 pages of the story – only adding to the already disjointed feel of the novel. Furthermore, I’m not exactly sure what the purpose of the story was, or if there was even meant to be one.

The other major stumbling block I came across whilst reading The Map of Time involved the writing style. While the translation is excellent (Lucia Graves worthy) and it is clear that Mr. Palma has formidable skill as a wordsmith, the manner of storytelling was wanting. So much of the novel is related in lengthy – and I mean lengthy, in the amount of 30+ pages – monologue speeches, with one character telling another about their marvelous exploits. I suppose that this is the best way to sum up the novel: in a word, The Map of Time is excessive. Excessive in terms of character speech, in terms of meaningless detail, and, most importantly, excessive in terms of page count. There are great ideas in the book, but buried beneath so much extraneous detail, it’s easy to get distracted.

Ultimately, The Map of Time is a book with an intriguing premise, momentary glimmers of brilliance, but fails to tie everything together in a cohesive package.

Notable Quotes/Parts: From Chapter One:

ANDREW HARRINGTON WOULD HAVE GLADLY died several times over if that meant not having to choose just one pistol from among his father’s vast collection in the living room cabinet. Decisions had never been Andrew’s strong point. On close examination, his life had been a series of mistaken choices, the last of them threatening to cast its lengthy shadow over the future. But that life of unedifying blunders was about to end. This time he was sure he had made the right decision, because he had decided not to decide. There would be no more mistakes in the future because there would be no more future. He was going to destroy it completely by putting one of those guns to his right temple. He could see no other solution: obliterating the future was the only way for him to eradicate the past.

He scanned the contents of the cabinet, the lethal assortment his father had lovingly set about assembling after his return from the war. He was fanatical about these weapons, though Andrew suspected it was not so much nostalgia that drove him to collect them as his desire to contemplate the novel ways mankind kept coming up with for taking one’s own life outside the law. In stark contrast to his father’s devotion, Andrew was impassive as he surveyed the apparently docile, almost humdrum implements that had brought thunder down to men’s fingertips and freed war from the unpleasantness of hand-to-hand combat. Andrew tried to imagine what kind of death might be lurking inside each of them, lying in wait like some predator. Which would his father have recommended he blow his brains out with? He calculated that death from one of those antiquated muzzle-loading flintlocks, which had to be refilled with gunpowder and a ball, then tamped down with a paper plug each time they were fired, would be a noble but drawn-out, tedious affair. He preferred the swift death guaranteed by one of the more modern revolvers nestling in their luxurious velvet-lined wooden cases. He considered a Colt Single Action revolver, which looked easy to handle and reliable, but discarded it when he remembered he had seen Buffalo Bill brandishing one in his Wild West Shows. A pitiful attempt to reenact his transoceanic exploits with a handful of imported Red Indians and a dozen lethargic, apparently opium-drugged buffalo. Death for him was not just another adventure. He also rejected a fine Smith & Wesson: that was the gun that had killed the outlaw Jesse James, of whom he considered himself unworthy, as well as a Webley revolver, specially designed to hold back the charging hordes in Britain’s colonial wars, which he thought looked too cumbersome. His attention turned next to his father’s favorite, a fine pepperbox with rotating barrels, but he seriously doubted whether this ridiculous, ostentatious-looking weapon would be capable of firing a bullet with enough force. Finally, he settled on an elegant 1870 Colt with mother-of-pearl inlays that would take his life with all the delicacy of a woman’s caress.

He smiled defiantly as he plucked it from the cabinet, remembering how often his father had forbidden him to meddle with his pistols. But the illustrious William Harrington was in Italy at that moment, no doubt reducing the Fontana de Trevi to a quivering wreck with his critical gaze. His parents’ decision to leave on their trip to Europe the very day he had chosen to kill himself had also been a happy coincidence. He doubted whether either of them would ever decipher the true message concealed in his gesture (that he had preferred to die as he had livedβ€”alone), but for Andrew it was enough to imagine the inevitable look of disgust on his father’s face when he discovered his son had killed himself behind his back, without his permission.

You can read the full excerpt online HERE.

Rating: 6 – Good, Recommended with reservations

Reading Next: Flip This Zombie by Jesse Petersen

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:

We have ONE copy of The Map of Time up for grabs. The contest is open to residents of the US only, and will run until Saturday July 16 at 11:59PM (PST). In order to enter, simply leave a comment here letting us know the name of your favorite time travel novel. Good luck!

 

Buy the Book:

Ebook available for kindle US, kindle UK, nook, kobo, & sony

  1. You can call him John Connor. That’s what I found myself doing mentally.

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58 Comments

  • Audra Holtwick
    July 14, 2011 at 1:02 am

    OUTLANDER
    audie@wickerness.com

  • Elaine Willis
    July 14, 2011 at 1:52 am

    I have to agree with Audra. Outlander is my favorite time travel book. Not because it is a time travel book, but because it is my favorite book ever.

  • The Book Memoirs (Elle)
    July 14, 2011 at 2:09 am

    I had a feeling about this one when I saw it pop up on my radar for the first time. There’s something about it, even the cover, which seemed a little off for me. There was a lot of hype but I rarely pay very much attention to hype so I can’t honestly tell you what originally made me think “meh” but… you have more or less confirmed ALL of my fears about broken ideas re: time travel and chunks of character offness. It’s not a disappointment (I was more or less expecting this to be the case) but it is another sigh moment for me because I am starting to think that the Victorian period is beginning to be the next to suffer from the YA Dystopias Are Really Popular Right Now phenomenon. πŸ‘Ώ – Elle

  • sakura
    July 14, 2011 at 2:45 am

    I read this book a couple of months ago and really enjoyed it but agree with you regarding the third part of the book which I think let the novel down. However, my favourite parts were the scams. SO clever. You’ve written a wonderfully clear review of a very twisty plot!

    No need to enter me in the draw as I’ve already got a copy.

  • Travis L. Bingaman
    July 14, 2011 at 3:24 am

    Never read a time travel novel… so ashamed. Maybe this one would be a great start! Thanks so much for the oppurtunity

  • LB
    July 14, 2011 at 3:45 am

    The Time Traveler’s Wife

  • Katie Hackett
    July 14, 2011 at 3:47 am

    Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox πŸ™‚ Expertly plotted and witty.

  • David H.
    July 14, 2011 at 3:57 am

    Either Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus by Orson Scott Card or Time and Again by Jack Finney.

  • Charlotte
    July 14, 2011 at 4:00 am

    The time travel book most dear to me is Charlotte Sometimes, by Penelope Farmer.

  • Stephanie T.
    July 14, 2011 at 5:29 am

    Would “The Ghosts of Ashbury High” by Jaclyn Moriarty count? Time travel is not central to the theme of the book but it is an awesome book and I did love the unexpectedness of time travel in it! But if not, I’d have to go with the classic “Time Cat” by Lloyd Alexander.

    Thank you! πŸ˜€

  • Sabrina
    July 14, 2011 at 6:06 am

    My favorite guiltiest of guilty pleasure time travel book is Beyond the Highland Mist by Karen Moning. As far as a none guilty pleasure time travel book, I am horrible at picking favorites!

  • Christa
    July 14, 2011 at 6:27 am

    I LOVE time travel stories! Let’s see… Kindred by Octavia Butler was amazing. Also, of course, A Wind in the Door, which is place & time travel & amazing! :mrgreen:
    Thanks so much for the giveaway!

  • Elizabeth
    July 14, 2011 at 7:36 am

    While I adore Outlander and all its sequels and cross my fingers daily for more from Diana Gabaldon, I have to say Time Traveller’s Wife is probably my favorite. I’ve read it 3-4 times and still bawl everytime. I’ve been through several copies because I keep lending it out and never getting it back!

  • Peggy H.
    July 14, 2011 at 8:22 am

    Sadly, I haven’t read any time travel books, but would love to! This book looks great!

  • MarieC
    July 14, 2011 at 8:53 am

    So many great time travel stories, but one that sticks with me is ‘A wrinkle in Time’.

  • erin
    July 14, 2011 at 9:18 am

    I’d have to agree with the others: Time Traveler’s Wife hands down. I’ve been looking at this book for a while now… looks great!

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  • Tipsy Reader
    July 14, 2011 at 9:19 am

    A Wrinkle in Time, hands down. It just holds a place in my heart…

  • rhapsodyinbooks
    July 14, 2011 at 9:45 am

    Favorite time travel book is Dooms Day Book by Connie Willis.

  • alana
    July 14, 2011 at 10:14 am

    I totally agree that this book is long. I’m all for a thick book, but you don’t want to read a long story that feels long. Even though the third story was weird, I really liked the ending and how the narrator was in front of the curtain rather then behind it (so to speak). I can’t help but feel like the writing made this book something special even though it frustrated me in a lot of ways.

  • Mezzowriter
    July 14, 2011 at 11:36 am

    I haven’t read a TON of time travel, but I just finished reading Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs and loved it. It had SO much promise! Looking forward to the sequel, too.

  • vvb
    July 14, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    outlander for me too!
    got me hooked on scotland as well ;-D
    vvb32 at yahoo.com

  • Justine
    July 14, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    A Wrinkle in Time is classic that I will happily hand-sell to all ages. Right now, though, I’m anticipating the English translations of the Gemstone Trilogy by Kerstin Gier. Ruby Red is definitely sequel bait so it’s my humble opinion that Sapphire Blue and Emerald Green should be released in rapid succession. πŸ™‚

  • emily
    July 14, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    The only time traveling book I have read is a Wrinkle in Time, and I loved it! The Map of time sounds amazing too

  • Chelsea B.
    July 14, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    Outlander πŸ™‚

  • Sara
    July 14, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    To Say Nothing of the Dog, by Connie Willis

  • David M
    July 14, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    Doomsday Book by Connie Willis

  • Amy C
    July 14, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    The Stravaganza novels, which, although aren’t exactly *time traveling* come close enough, since the British kids end up in an alternate dimension of historical Italy. πŸ™‚

  • Chris Bails
    July 14, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    This book looks great and would love to win. I mostly love the cover of this book. If it has a great cover I will buy the book. I am a cover lover. The excerpt looked great and would love to read this book. thanks for the giveaway and the chance to win.
    christinebails@yahoo.com

  • Jess (The Cozy Reader)
    July 14, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    I’ve only read one time traveler book and I actually just finished it today. Hourglass by Myra McEntire.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

    thecozyreader @ gmail.com

  • Julie Witt
    July 14, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    I would definitely have to say Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander! Awesome, awesome book! I really, really want to read this one, though, so thank you SO much for this great giveaway!

  • Jennifer P
    July 14, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    I would have to say The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, and of course L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. This books sounds really good! Thanks for the recommendation!

  • Jen B.
    July 14, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    Karen Marie Moning’s Highlander series is full of awesome time travel! Thanks for the giveaway.
    jepebATverizonDOTnet

  • Deserae McGlothen
    July 14, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    My favorite time travel book is… HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN. Okay, okay, it’s not ALL about time travel, persay, but since I’m on my way to stand in line for the midnight showing at Edward’s Cinema, I’m kind of in that kind of mood.

    Thanks for the opportunity! Is anyone else excited for Deathly Hallows Part II or is it just me?

    Woot!
    Deserae McGlothen

  • Erika
    July 14, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    Rapsody in Time. I forget who the author was, but it was a fun book. πŸ™‚

    Thanks for the opportunity to win!

  • Mary
    July 14, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    this looks good! and i love the cover!

  • Eselpee
    July 14, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    Time travel is one of my weakness (along with rich chocolate desserts) and I like them all, but the time traveler’s wife was a particularly well enjoyed novel

  • Eselpee
    July 14, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    I just read through the list and have to concur that any Connie Willis is wonderful and Kindred (Octavia Butler) was a powerful read. I picked up some new titles too so thanks everyone – and thanks to Book Smugglers!

  • Rebecca LB
    July 14, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    I’m afraid the only time-travel book I’ve read was “Outlander.” I’d love the chance to read another one!

  • wade2121
    July 14, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    Karen Marie Moning’s Highlander series.

  • Sue R
    July 14, 2011 at 11:56 pm

    The Time Traveler’s Wife ftw.

  • Jen
    July 15, 2011 at 4:33 am

    Outlander maybe? I also <3d Diane Duane's a wizard on Mars.

  • Betty-Anne
    July 15, 2011 at 7:02 am

    The Time-Traveler’s Wife was without a doubt the best time travel novel I’ve ever read. Years later, the plot and characters still stick with me.

  • Scribe Kira
    July 15, 2011 at 10:31 am

    never read the book, but loved the movie of the time traveler’s wife. but for the book: does harry potter book three count? there was time-travel in that!

  • Lorraine
    July 15, 2011 at 11:01 am

    WOW! There are so many great time travel books that I have read, but the Outlander series and Time Travelers Wife are the two most recent that I fell in love with. I was very interested in Map of Time, since reading about it in another book blog. Sadly, you are not the first reviewer to mention the lengthiness…i was wondering if the translation is partly to blame. I still am intriqued and would love to take a crack at reading it! πŸ˜‰

  • Beverly H.
    July 15, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells, is still my favorite!

  • Lisa
    July 15, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    The Little Book by Seldon Edwards

  • CG
    July 15, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    I love time travel books! I can’t decided which is my Favorite. Probably be a toss up between Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and the last book in The Mediator series by Meg Cabot.

  • MeganS
    July 15, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    I have lot of much loved time travel books, but Doomsday Book is my favorite of them all. Thanks for your review of this book; I’ve been curious about it but wary of the hype. I’m still interested in checking it out, but have a better sense of what my expectations should be. πŸ™‚

  • Carol M
    July 15, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    There is no doubt that The Time Traveler’s Wife is my favorite time travel book!
    mittens0831 at aol dot com

  • Tina
    July 15, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    Another commenter mentioned β€œThe Ghosts of Ashbury High” by Jaclyn Moriarty, which I hadn’t previously considered a time travel novel. However, upon reflection, it definitely had elements of time travel and historical fiction woven into it. And that book was absolutely brilliant, so I’m going to say that it is my favorite time travel book!

    melodiousrevelry (at) gmail (dot) com

  • Adrienne
    July 15, 2011 at 9:09 pm

    Ironic but The Time Machine by H.G. Well, read it every summer and another one (I’m soooo going to date myself) is Two Lives Of Jenny Logan…I friggen cry every.damn.time

  • Kiki
    July 15, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    Doomsday Book is my favorite.

  • Annie
    July 16, 2011 at 1:02 am

    I just read & loved Ruby Red Kerstin Gier

  • Katie Hackett
    July 16, 2011 at 8:26 am

    Ignore my previous comment, I didn’t notice the competition was only for US residents :S Whoops.

  • Lexi
    July 16, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    Doomsday Book and TO Say Nothing of the Dog are my favorites.

  • Leanna H
    July 18, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    My favorite time travel book is Gold Fever by Emma Daniels.

  • debbie
    July 24, 2011 at 5:41 am

    I think the only time travel novel I have read is the time machine by hg wells.
    twoofakind12@yahoo.com

  • Daniel
    September 7, 2013 at 10:12 pm

    i really enjoyed the book. i read it right after hg wells the time machine. its a pretty epic book. just go along with the crazy ride. it took me a week reading all day at work each day πŸ˜‰

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