City of Time and Magic
August 4, 2021

Book Review

City of Time and Magic

reviewed by Pam Guynn

In City of Time and Magic, Paula Brackston brings a well-written and entertaining mix of historical fiction, fantasy, time travel, romance, and suspense.

It is the fourth book in the Found Things series and readers will benefit from reading the series in order as there are references to events in previous books. The novel is set in and around Marlborough, a market town in the English county of Wiltshire in contemporary times and 1878 London.

Our protagonist, Xanthe, and her mother Flora live in Marlborough above their antique store, The Little Shop of Found Things. Xanthe has found that she can time travel to address injustices, an ability known to a few as Spinning. Objects sing and whisper to her to let her know when and where she is needed. At the end of book three, the main mission was accomplished, but there was a major cliffhanger. This book starts two weeks later with Xanthe feeling betrayed and worried about a friend. When three objects sing to her, she isn’t sure which one will take her on the mission she desires.

Xanthe has gained some confidence in herself and her ability to understand what the found objects need her to do. However, she is still learning what it means to be a Spinner able to travel to other times and places. She shows tremendous growth during the course of this fourth novel. The secondary characters provide the emotional support that Xanthe needs at this stage of her understanding of Spinning. They also bring realism to life through their quirkiness, hobbies and personalities. The antagonists’ motivations are as believable for 1878 as they are today.

Paula Brackston does a great job in giving the reader a sense of both time and place, and her descriptions help the reader to travel with Xanthe. The story has history, mystery, suspense, danger, deceit, uncertainty, secrets, villains, hope, friendship, sorrow, grief, love, duty to family, and much more. The author brings history to life with an entertaining story that is suspenseful, dramatic, and emotional. Be prepared for the imagery to engage your visual, tactile, auditory and olfactory senses.

Overall, it was compulsively readable, full of some surprising twists, and provides a believable historical atmosphere full of danger. This engaging combination fully delivered on the promise of its premise and opening scenes. The subplots tied together well, the main characters were strong, and the ending was explosive. Readers that enjoy time travel mixed with suspense and history will likely enjoy this novel.

St. Martin’s Press and Paula Brackston provided a complimentary digital ARC of this novel via NetGalley. This is my honest review. Opinions are mine alone and are not biased in any way. Publication date is currently set for November 16, 2021.

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