Ruby Red Review
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From time to time, I’m lucky enough to find a book that’s truly addictive—a book that I’ll carry around wherever I go (even if it’s just to the next room), so I can read another page whenever I have a minute or two to spare. Teen fantasy Ruby Red is one of those addictive books—the kind that you’ll quickly devour, only to end up kicking yourself later for not savoring it more and making the adventure last just a little bit longer.

Gwyneth Shepherd has always known that her family is special—or at least that her smart, beautiful cousin, Charlotte, is. Charlotte has spent her entire life in training, preparing for the day when, at 16, she would begin traveling back in time.

Instead of Charlotte, though, it’s Gwyneth who suddenly finds herself transported back in time, totally unprepared for the experience. Everyone is shocked to discover that plain old Gwyneth has inherited the family’s time travel gene instead of Charlotte—especially since her mother has been lying to everyone for years, in an attempt to give her a normal life.

Once she begins traveling, Gwyneth is quickly initiated into a secret society that sends her and another handsome but arrogant time traveler, Gideon, on a mysterious mission.

Originally published in German (and translated into English by Anthea Bell), this first book in author Kerstin Gier’s best-selling teen fantasy trilogy is captivating and mysterious enough for adult readers, too.

The story is carefully and cleverly plotted, free of any really nagging plot holes. It’s easy to suspend disbelief and follow along as Gwyneth finds herself caught up in a strange new life of traveling through time, meeting new (old) people while outfitted in the most fashionable period-appropriate garb, with help from lovable wardrobe mistress Madame Rossini.

But while Gwyneth’s time-traveling adventures are pretty extraordinary—not to mention loaded with mysterious characters who may or may not be trustworthy—Gwyneth herself is just a normal kid, which helps to make her such a likeable main character. While Charlotte has been raised to believe that she’s special—that she’s better than everybody else—Gwyneth has been raised to believe that she’s completely and totally average (maybe even a little below average). And while Charlotte was devoting her life to learning to dance and fence and speak all kinds of different languages, Gwyneth was hanging out with her best friend, Lesley, watching lots of movies. There’s nothing pretentious or superior about her; she’s just a regular teenager who suddenly finds herself living a very irregular life—almost like a time-traveling female Harry Potter. And she reacts in the ways that any regular person would: she’s nervous and scared, but she’s a little bit excited, too. Along the way, she has to learn to be strong—to think for herself and to stand up to people like Gideon, who are constantly trying to boss her around.

The only frustrating thing about Ruby Red is its abrupt ending. This first book in the trilogy is the set-up book—and, as such, it ends just when things start to get really interesting. Of course, that just guarantees that you’ll be counting down the days until the release of the follow-up, Sapphire Blue. But if you prefer your endings to offer a little bit of closure, you’ll find this one maddening—because it will leave you with more questions than answers.

Don’t let the lack of resolution scare you away, though. Ruby Red is a magical start to a must-read new trilogy that’s filled with action and mystery and written with just the right touches of romance and wit. Teen readers and adults alike will enjoy every captivating page.

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