No two persons ever read the same book. --Edmund Wilson

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013/33: Just One Damned Thing After Another (The Chronicles of St Mary's) -- Jodi Taylor

"...whatever happened to the crew on this assignment."
"How do you know something happened?"
He sighed. "They're historians. Something always happens." [loc. 235]

I'm very happy that this novel has leapt the gulf from free / cheap e-book to paperback. True, I wouldn't have discovered it if the Kindle edition hadn't been free: but now I'm aware of the series I can pay good money for subsequent books!

Madeleine Maxwell is an historian who's recruited by her former teacher, Mrs de Winter, to the St Mary's Institute of Historical Research. St Mary's 'inclines more towards the practical side of historical research': that is, time travel.

Max jumps at the chance, and becomes part of a team. They're trained up appropriately: self-defence, archaeology, specialised areas, and the avoidance of explosions (of which there tend to be rather a lot at St Mary's). The usual provisos and exclusions, of course, are discussed and applied: you mustn't change history; you can't bring anything back; you should try not to become attached to anyone you might meet in the past.

And needless to say, Max ends up doing all three. (Possibly.) She witnesses some truly nasty events, experiences treachery and violence at first hand, and uncovers some very dubious goings-on. And drinks a lot of tea. There's an ending which concludes this part of the story, but sets the scene for future books in the series (A Symphony of Echoes, already available for Kindle). There are also hints at Max's back-story which I'd certainly like to know more about.

Just One Damned Thing After Another is sheer fun. It does have a few grammar / typo problems (stray commas and 'postrophes, homonyms, et cetera), but there was nothing that threw me out of the story. An immensely enjoyable read: I'm reminded of how the first Kage Baker book (In the Garden of Iden) made me feel, though Taylor's setting and premise differ considerably from Baker's Company.

Highly recommended, even if it's no longer free!

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