Title: The Girl from Everywhere
Author: Heidi Heilig
Genre: YA Historical Fantasy
It was the kind of August day that hinted at monsoons, and the year was 1774, though not for very much longer.
Sixteen-year-old Nix Song is a time-traveller. She, her father and their crew of time refugees travel the world aboard The Temptation, a glorious pirate ship stuffed with treasures both typical and mythical. Old maps allow Nix and her father to navigate not just to distant lands, but distant times – although a map will only take you somewhere once. And Nix’s father is only interested in one time, and one place: Honolulu 1868. A time before Nix was born, and her mother was alive. Something that puts Nix’s existence rather dangerously in question…
Nix has grown used to her father’s obsession, but only because she’s convinced it can’t work. But then a map falls into her father’s lap that changes everything. And when Nix refuses to help, her father threatens to maroon Kashmir, her only friend (and perhaps, only love) in a time where Nix will never be able to find him. And if Nix has learned one thing, it’s that losing the person you love is a torment that no one can withstand. Nix must work out what she wants, who she is, and where she really belongs before time runs out on her forever.
Source: ARC from Hot Key Books via Amazon Vine
Combining history and time-travel, this YA Fantasy novel certainly has an interesting premise. I’m not always the biggest fan of time-travel, but I loved the idea of using maps to move through space and time, and the very beginning of this book ticked all the right boxes for me, so I settled in for an enjoyable ride.
Except… well, it’s really kind of slow. Although I loved the Temptation and the glimpses we get of the crew, and the complicated relationship between Nix and her father is interesting, I found Nix herself a little boring. She’s driven and determined and knows a heck of a lot about maps and mythology, but she keeps her emotions locked down for most of the book and doesn’t seem to care all that much about anyone or anything.
Which makes the love triangle both annoying and odd. Personally, for me there was no contest. Kashmir is the best character in this book. He has the most personality, the most interesting history, as well as being flirtatious and fun. The other boy in the triangle, Blake, is bland and boring and has very little personality at all. Add in Nix, who seems determined not to feel anything for either of them, while vaguely feeling for both, and the whole thing felt forced. I hate love triangles anyway, and spent most of this book angry at Nix for not realising that Kashmir is all she needs. (Actually, Kashmir is all this book needs. Dump Nix and the captain and stick with Kash and the crew – it would be so much better.)
However, despite the love triangle, the somewhat muted characters and the slow pace of the plot, when it comes to world-building and historical detail, this book really shines. Whether its eighteenth-century India, modern day New York or nineteenth-century Hawaii, wherever the Temptation visits is packed with colour and detail and a clear love for history. I also loved how the belief of the mapmaker fed into how the maps themselves worked, making it possible to visit imaginary places and collect incredible artifacts. The mercury ocean scene was just glorious.
Which made me sad that we didn’t see more of that side of things. This ship can travel anywhere and anywhen, even imaginary ones, so long as the map is right. But for the vast majority of the book we’re stuck in Hawaii, torturing the plot to fit the actual history. While I can appreciate a little narrative trickery to match up with real events (especially ones I knew so little about), in this book it just led to confused motivations and a lack of pace and action.
So overall, this book was a little hit and miss for me. The pacing definitely picks up in the last third, but the love-triangle and Nix herself I found less than enjoying, while the history and crew of the Temptation were wonderful. It’s clever and beautifully researched, but it failed to sweep me away as I’d both hoped and expected.
The Girl From Everywhere is Out Now!
Visit Heidi Heilig for more details.