The River of No Return
By Bee Ridgway
Published on April 23nd, 2013
Published by Dutton Adult
Published by Dutton Adult
“You are now a member of the Guild. There is no return.” Two hundred years after he was about to die on a Napoleonic battlefield, Nick Falcott, soldier and aristocrat, wakes up in a hospital bed in modern London. The Guild, an entity that controls time travel, showers him with life's advantages. But Nick yearns for home and for one brown-eyed girl, lost now down the centuries. Then the Guild asks him to break its own rule. It needs Nick to go back to 1815 to fight the Guild’s enemies and to find something called the Talisman.
In 1815, Julia Percy mourns the death of her beloved grandfather, an earl who could play with time. On his deathbed he whispers in her ear: “Pretend!” Pretend what? When Nick returns home as if from the dead, older than he should be and battle scarred, Julia begins to suspect that her very life depends upon the secrets Grandfather never told her. Soon enough Julia and Nick are caught up in an adventure that stretches up and down the river of time. As their knowledge of the Guild and their feelings for each other grow, the fate of the future itself is hanging in the balance.
This book is decidedly more adult than most of the books I have reviewed. I was interested in the book because the author actually teaches at Bryn Mawr College, which is close to where I live. I figured, hey, a hometown girl! Awesome! However, had I not know that she was a local, I definitely would have thought that Ms. Ridgway was Brittish!
And there is the central problem I found with this book: there are references that absolutely went over my head. I found myself lamenting that I was not more of a history student, having promptly dumped any and all schooling that did not relate to science. Oops. Little did I know that would actually matter later when I was reading good books. The River of No Return is precisely that - a good book!
As the summary says, the main character, Nick, accidentally jumps 200 years into the future and is taken in by the Guild. The Guild acclimates him to the now and tells him that he can never go back. Suddenly, he has lost his mother and two sisters, as well as his title: Nick is a marquess.
Wait... what the heck is a marquess?! Oh history! How little I know of you!
I know nothing Napoleon except that he was short and angry and exiled. They continually reference a place (battle?) called Badajoz. Apparently it was bad. I have no idea.
Unfortunately, this history factors prominently into Nick's personality, so there is a facet to him that I simply do not understand. I think if you would like to read this book, it might be helpful to have a little more background knowledge than I.
However, I still really enjoyed the book. I loved how it flipped back and forth between Nick and Julia's very different perspectives. Julia feels like a more modern girl raised in an era of confinement, and that is elucidated in the end, much to my delight. I actually really enjoyed the ending because it was both satisfying and exciting. It definitely left me wanting more. Towards the end of the book, things got a bit clumsy (in my mind) as the author was trying to tie everything together. I kept having to stop and think about who was who and what side they were on and what their motives were. I am still completely confused about the Talisman and how they figured out what it truly was. The author amply explained it, it just did not make sense to me. I am going to chalk it up to being confused about historical data.
Nevermind all of that though - this was a really enjoyable read and I would definitely recommend it for an adult. This is not really high school material, but college and up, sure. There is some "romance" (cough:sex:cough), so it would be inappropriate for a younger audience. It is not a supremely nerdy book either - it takes solid story plots (girl, guy, drama, bad guys, good guys, etc.) and adds the element of time travel to it. It makes the "paranormal" very accessible.
I hope I get to review the next installment!