On a school trip to historic Minerva Hall, popular troublemaker Luke Morgan, and loner Chyna Blue, are reluctantly thrust together in the hope that each will be a positive influence on the other. But then they are drawn through a painting and travel back in time.
With only their twenty-first century wits, and a few modern day gadgets to help them, they must outwit a relentless Persian soldier, evade a mountain lion, and escape slave traders. They also have to learn to get along in order to trace a route home.
Then, a mysterious Samurai warrior informs them that the multiverse behind the paintings is much more complicated and far-reaching than they could ever have imagined, and that their destiny is not what they had once presumed.
Source: Review copy from the author
If you like time travel, having a passing interest in history or love the idea of paintings coming alive – so you can go in, or they can come out – then you’ll probably have fun with this book. There’s plenty of action, lots of confusion and not a lot of answers, but who needs answers when there are Persians to run from, a Samurai to chat to and a dragon or two to duck and dodge?
Luke is a typical teenage boy at the start, doing stupid stunts for the hell of it – even if he doesn’t intend them to go quite as badly as they do. He’s sporty and popular, and the irritant of every adult near him. As the book goes on, though, we see that there’s more to Luke than the kid who shows off to his friends. He’s quick thinking, good at coming up with plans and seems to have quite a passion for both reading and history, if some of his answers to Chyna’s questions are to judge by. In fact, despite the rocky start, I really came to like Luke. He’s smart and interesting and definitely someone to be trusted.
Sadly, the same couldn’t be said for Chyna. She’s sarcastic and smart and full of attitude – and that’s it. She starts off mouthy and ends mouthy, but very rarely proves herself to be intelligent throughout the book. Luke’s the one who comes up with the plans, who gets them out of scrapes, who tries to find answers to their troubles, while Chyna delivers withering stares and sarcasm, sarcasm and even more sarcasm. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good sarcastic quip and definitely drawled my fair share as a teen, but when that’s all she does it grows tiresome quite fast. Unlike Luke she doesn’t grow or change at all throughout the book, except that she’s less disparaging of Luke’s ideas – though she still argues.
I also really hated the cliché of a brainy girl hating anything sporty and being a useless runner. It just added to the fact that alone she’d be useless, but with Luke she’s fine, ’cause he’s the heroic, sporty one with all the bright ideas. Which left me wondering what the point of Chyna was. It might have been nice if she’d had a chance to actually use that brain of hers.
But this book isn’t really about the characters – so if you prefer plot over characters, and like a more telling style rather than experiencing things directly through the characters’ eyes, then you should enjoy this. It’s not my favourite story style, but this book is intriguing and compelling enough that I found it a fun, exciting read. The idea of the Time Key, Archivists and Sentinels is interesting and the adventures inside the paintings neatly combines history and imagination.
Packed with potential, I think this series will definitely be one to enjoy – as long as Chyna develops an actual personality, rather than just a sarcasm reflex. As it stands, this is a great introduction to these characters, the intriguing worlds beyond the paintings and the troublesome place that is Minerva Hall. If you’re looking for something a little bit different, sprinkled with imagination and full of action, then give this a go. I’ll be intrigued to see where these two end up next.
The Time Key is Out Now!
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