“RUBY RED,” by Kerstin Gier, translated by Anthea Bell, Henry Holt and Co., May 10, 2011, $16.99 (young adult)
Have you ever wished you could go back in time? For one “lucky” person in Gwyneth Shepherd’s family it’s not an if but a when.
Since the day she was born, Gwen’s beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared for time travel. All the calculations and notes from the past confirm it will be Charlotte who takes on the mantle of time traveler. She’s even having tell-tale dizzy spells, and she could disappear at any time.
Except she doesn’t.
The family, the Guardians, everyone is waiting for the momentous event. They’re so caught up in it that they don’t realize Gwen has disappeared instead.
No one is more surprised by events than Gwen, who has been kept carefully away from all the planning and training. But suddenly there she is, transported to a time with no electricity or phones and almost as quickly deposited back in her own time.
The experts are shocked. How could this have happened? The calculations were correct, but some key information was withheld in the first place.
Gwen must now figure out why her mother hid the truth about her birth date from her and everyone else. Not only that, but she’s got years of history to remember, languages to learn and responsibilities to fulfill. Gwen is suddenly thrust into a world full of mysteries and questionable characters.
Originally published in Germany, “Ruby Red” is already a best seller overseas. And it’s no surprise; “Ruby Red” is a gem of a book. It’s creative and different and fast-paced.
“Ruby Red” has elements of magic and adventure. There are also dark characters and scenes and death plays a role. But there’s a careful balance between all elements that helps the novel feel lighter than it otherwise could be.
Gwen is a multilayered character who readers will easily relate to as she steps from her normal life into the past. The only thing that may cause some confusion here is a lack of knowledge of British and some French history. The book is set in England. For the most part, however, events are explained clear enough to not disrupt the story’s flow.
Readers looking for a break from magical creatures and dystopian dramas will appreciate the fresh feel offered here. “Ruby Red” is the first in a trilogy. No word yet on the publication dates for the other two books, “Sapphire Blue” and “Emerald Green.”