When I saw the book cover for Into The Dim, Book #1 of a new suspenseful fantasy series by Janet B. Taylor, I was drawn to it. When I read the publisher’s description, I thought it sounded really interesting. That said, I had no idea what I was getting into and that’s why I hesitate about how to review this novel. That’s not to say this is a bad novel – oh no, I loved every minute of it. It’s just that I wonder if maybe you should go into it blind too. You see, it was good that I went in blind and that it unfolded for me the way it did because that’s how it unfolded for the main character. What I’ve decided to do is to not go beyond some details already disclosed elsewhere, even though I’d prefer to not go quite that far. Hobson’s choice.
Are you a fan of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series? This isn’t that or an imitation of it, and yet it has some similar characteristics. Sound interesting?
Sixteen-year-old Hope Walton has a really close relationship with her adoptive mother and would love to travel with her to all of the exotic locations where she lectures but Hope has some fairly serious issues that keep her at home. She misses her mother terribly when she’s gone, and now, well now she’s gone forever. Hope’s mom was the victim of an earthquake that struck while she was giving a lecture at a university on the Indian continent. There were no survivors in the building where the lecture was being held.
Time is supposed to heal all wounds but Hope can’t let go and move on like her adoptive father has managed to do. When he decides to remarry, he arranges for her to go to Scotland to stay for at least the summer with her aunt, her mom’s sister, much to Hope’s dismay. She’s terrified of just making the trip in an airplane (extreme claustrophobia) much less how she will manage living in a foreign country with her headaches and other problems. And she doesn’t even really know this aunt. What if they don’t get along? She feels like she’s been completely abandoned – it’s as if she’s being thrown away by her dad, which is not helping matters at all.
Medicated within an inch of her life, and basically comatose as a result, Hope does manage to fly to Scotland without having a full-on let-me-off-this-plane-now-or-else panic attack over the Atlantic Ocean. I know it sounds like Hope is a complete wuss about now but, trust me, she’s not. She’s just highly sensitive to incoming stimuli – all incoming stimuli – and there’s a reason for that – honest.
Anyway, Hope feels pretty lost rambling around the family estate in Scotland with her aunt absent, even though the staff do their best to make her feel at home. One perky and mischievous person in particular, Phoebe, does her best to befriend Hope and makes Hope think the trip won’t be a complete bore. And then there’s the very attractive guy Hope meets while out riding one afternoon – now he has definite promise.
When Hope decides to go off exploring all the rooms in the estate to see what might be interesting, she stumbles on the family secret. At first she doesn’t believe what’s she’s found is possible. It’s a tapestry from the Middle Ages, a real one, but her mom is depicted in it. That’s impossible, isn’t it? And then she learns from her newly arrived aunt that their family members aren’t just scholars of ancient history but they’re time travelers. They travel back in time, into the dim, to ensure history is not disturbed by another group of avaricious time travelers who try to steal artifacts and change history to benefit themselves.
As if that isn’t mind boggling enough, Hope learns her mom is not dead but has become trapped in the 12th century by this other group. Now the tapestry makes more sense, and Hope realizes it actually provides a hidden clue. Because of restrictions on returning to the same exact time in history, Hope will have to make the trip back to rescue her mom instead of her aunt.
If she thought the plane ride was terrifying, how on earth will she manage time travel into the dim without having a complete meltdown? And, although she’s always been fascinated by the Middle Ages, Henry II, and especially Eleanor of Aquitaine, can Hope survive the real thing? And how is Hope supposed to rescue her mom when she’s the poster child for wuss-dom? I’ll never tell (cue the evil book reviewer’s laugh)!
Hope is a very interesting character, almost a study of contradictions. What I liked about her is that she may have all kinds of things wrong with her but man can she rise to the occasion. I’ve lived with extensive allergies my whole life so I know the inner strength those kinds of issues can give you. You either wallow in it or you get on with your life, and wallowing is just no fun. I think even Hope is amazed at the strength she can draw from when push comes to shove. Phoebe is a wonderful character, a real bubbly breath of fresh air, and then there’s her curmudgeon of a brother. And the guy Hope meets while riding? Well, you’ve probably already guessed that he’s a love interest of sorts but I’m not going to say how that develops, or doesn’t…yeah, I’m evil that way. And then there are the villains – time travelers and residents from the Middle Ages…lots of political intrigue, suspense and nastiness on that front.
Into The Dim has the makings of a wonderful new series. The alternative world is well-built out, with a unique spin on time travel that I liked – aspects that complicate things quite a bit. There are a couple of points that didn’t add up for me, and left me concerned, but those got resolved before the end of Book #1…no spoilers though. This is a touching and at times heartbreaking story while the suspense and adventure make for one hell of a great ride. I can’t wait to see where it goes in Book #2. I’m recommending Into The Dim wholeheartedly!
I didn’t include quotes in the review because – Here’s a PDF link so you can read an excerpt from Into The Dim.
Author Appearances & Events:
March 4 & 5, 2016 NoVa Teen Book Festival in Arlington, VA
March 12, 2016 at 2pm to 4pm Launch Party at Barnes & Noble on Financial Center Parkway in Little Rock, Arkansas
March 19, 2016 at 2pm to 4pm Little Rock Public Library in Little Rock, Arkansas
April 14-17, 2016 Arkansas Literary Festival in Little Rock, Arkansas
Mary 13-15, 2016 Rochester Teen Book Festival in Rochester, New York
Can’t wait to read it? Into The Dim is available now for pre-order in all formats from the online booksellers below. Order it now and you can have it as soon as it’s published on March 1, 2016. (Okay, another fun glitch – for some reason the other bookseller links aren’t showing up…not sure why not…will work on that issue to get it resolved.)
I’d love to get your comments on Into The Dim, Janet B. Taylor, and/or this review.