Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Sarah Woodbury - Daughter of Time

Daughter of Time tells the story of a young widow, Meg, healing from the pain of a brief, unhappy marriage, who falls through time into the Middle Ages-and into the arms of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, the last Prince of Wales. He saves her, and she in turn saves him, thanks to her knowledge of future events. Although powerful forces seek to divide them, by working together, Meg and Llywelyn have a chance to navigate the dangerous and shifting alliances that constantly undermine his rule and threaten the very existence of Wales-and to create a future in which Llywelyn's death does not come too soon.

Comment: I saw a positive recommendation on this book somewhere and since it wasn't too expensive and the very first in the series, I decided to take a chance on it, but sadly I feel the execution wasn't up to my taste.

In this time travel novel, the prelude of an apparent long series (17 books according to GR), we meet Meg, a young woman and mother who has a car crash and somehow falls into a time warp with her daughter. They wake up in Wales, in the 13th century but how can she explain this to those who rescue and help her? Even more so, she meets the last prince of Wales, Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, whom she knows is ambushed and killed, forever impacting the story of what is now the UK. However, Meg doesn't give up and she tries her best to help her daughter adapt to this new reality, going as far as to start falling in love with the prince. It also seems the sentiment can be reciprocated, but she knows there are social and historical obstacles in their way, especially because the prince's life is in danger...

This is not the first time travel story I read and, often, I tend to like them because of the fun idea that is to think of how someone with modern ideas and knowledge could ever adapt to a different era or to deal with the challenges or difficulties to be found there. Of course, these stories are fantasy but I like it when authors think on everything properly and offer interesting ideas as to how time travel can happen and, even better, when they add romance content, whether the couple remains or leaves that time period. I fondly remember my favorite comedies by Sandra Hill of her time travel novels....

This author chose to take her heroine to medieval Wales. I don't know much about this time period and setting, so it was interesting enough to learn a few things, mostly geographical and in terms of people who were key then, and her research shows even without reading her notes. However, my reading experience wasn't a very good one with this book and while the use of historical facts wasn't something I disliked, at some point the focus was quite a lot on military strategy and the more social aspects started to look a little bland (it could be related to any place during this century and not just Wales alone), except the confusing use of names, that no matter how accurate, still make for a harder read.

At first I was actually enjoying this story and I felt the author would take things slowly, not only when it came to Meg and Anna (her daughter) adaptation to their new life, but also the romance. Until a certain point, the elements all seemed to go well, even the tone of the story: quiet, although with the feel something bad could happen, war wise, but that was a given, considering Meg knew the prince would be attacked sometime. However, after a specific scene where Meg's life is in danger, things change radically and they assume their love right away. I can't understand how this happened, or why we should believe their feelings went that direction! Even with some minor inner thinking in this by both of them, how could they have reached the idea they were in love? Nothing convinced me of this!

Obviously, from this moment on, the story started to lose appeal. I just didn't appreciate how quickly the relationship came to be and to be honest, there was no clue they were in love, the characters' lives didn't seem to go through any evolution nor complex steps, they said it and that was it. Also, for those around them, both those who knew she traveled in time (how could medieval people ever accept such a thing) and those who didn't, would simply recognize Meg as an important person not knowing who her family is, where she came from? I feel the story took on very confusion paths and looking at the blurbs of the other books, it probably only gets more so.

I think the author had a plan with this story and wanted to tell it as smoothly and as quickly as possible, so things could go from point A to point B. I can accept this, but whereas some authors take too long, mrs Woodbury didn't take enough to contextualize and create enough to support the plot moves. Everything felt...static and we didn't have any showing to let us think out own ideas on what was happening, which the "tell" choice of writing showcased and the alternate first person narrator only badly accentuated.

I see this is a prequel, perhaps the other stories have a steadier narrative or more complex characters but as tester, I was not sold on this one. I could overlook some of the content and artistic choices if the writing was engaging and consistent, but I don't think this happened. I believe I won't continue with the series.
Grade: 4/10

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