Ruby Red (Ruby Red Trilogy #1)
By Kerstin Gier (translated by Anthea Bell)
Publisher: Henry Holt
Publication Date: May 10th, 2011
Format: Kindle ebook
Rosi and I are doing a week in which we celebrate all things Ruby Red and Kirsten Gier. First up is a compilation of our reviews of the first book in the series.
Gwyneth Shepherd’s sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for traveling through time. But unexpectedly, it is Gwyneth, who in the middle of class takes a sudden spin to a different era!
Gwyneth must now unearth the mystery of why her mother would lie about her birth date to ward off suspicion about her ability, brush up on her history, and work with Gideon–the time traveler from a similarly gifted family that passes the gene through its male line, and whose presence becomes, in time, less insufferable and more essential. Together, Gwyneth and Gideon journey through time to discover who, in the 18th century and in contemporary London, they can trust.
This book was fantastic and all kinds of fun. While not necessarily a work of great depth, it gets five stars for a lovely, humorous, and spunky main character and an expansive cast of minor characters with diverse personalities. The concept was also wildly unique, I have yet to come across a plot quite like it and approached with skill similar to Gier’s. She is able to make you fall in love with Gwyneth after only knowing her for a few days, book time, and feel immediate apprehension when meeting the intimidating and fairly scary Count Saint-Germain and his belladonna-imbibing sidekick Rakoczy.
I absolutely loved Gwyneth. She was spunky and hilarious, her comments about anything and everything could be completely off-the-wall but spot on at the same time. She was also not afraid to be herself, which I greatly appreciated since she lived with an aunt that seemed to constantly have a negative remark about her appearance or her smarts and a cousin who was no better. She has the small quirk of being able to talk to ghosts and has an interesting birthmark, both of which her aunt makes fun of and criticizes her for. Instead of molding herself into any semblance of a girl her aunt would approve of, she continues to talk to what everyone else sees as thin air and doesn’t let others opinions or her birthmark, her “funny little banana,” bother her.
The love interest needs mentioning, if only because it is a staple in YA these days, but I didn’t do any swooning for the arrogant Gideon. This might change, mind you, but so far his good looks, dark hair and greens, yes please, seem to be all that’s going for him as his personality was as pompous and arrogant as Gwyneth’s aunt’s and cousin’s. His expectation that Gwyneth would do as he told was also frustrating as was his disapproval when she was ill equipped for a situation that she had no chance of ever having prepared for.
Despite my irritation with Glenda, the aunt, and Charlotte, the cousin, and their annoyingly superior attitudes, the rest of Gwyneth’s family was delightful. I loved her younger siblings and her aunt Maddy and how much her mother wanted to protect her from the life of a secret society time traveller. Even Lady Arista, her grandmother, while having a rather superior attitude, also managed to convey love for her family beyond her rigid exterior.
I also loved the time travelly secret society built around Gwyneth and Gideon’s, and their ancestor’s, gift of a certain gene. The little excerpts at the end of each chapter, taken from the secret society’s “files,” were fascinating and helped build on the plot while also sometimes giving a new perspective of events that took place in the previous chapter or elucidating some of the more complicated aspects of the world building.
This book comes highly recommended for a light, fun read. The entire series, once started, is very quick to get through and highly addictive, with a unique plot that puts a new spin on the time travel concept.
Goodness, it’s really hard to know how to start this off. I mean, in the first place, all of the books seem to muddle together into one big story in my mind. They’re all very fast-paced, and it feels like the instant I get to the end of one I HAVE to race into the other one…but, for the sake of the reviews, I shall try.
We start by meeting Gwyneth, who on the outside appears to be a rather ditzy English schoolgirl, in a rather strange family whose entire structure revolves around a tendency for certain members to travel in time. Gwyn’s cousin Charlotte is the chosen one, and therefore the darling. Gwyneth and her siblings stand relatively on the outside of the family. Until, of course, it turns out that Gwyneth and not Charlotte has inherited the gene. Cue…well, chaos. Highly amusing chaos.
This book shows that you don’t have to be sophisticated and smart to be successful, which is a message I like. Gwyneth, although only knowing as much history as Hollywood is willing to show to her, still manages to deal with the 1700s and their crazy styles like a boss. She also deals with a highly secretive society and a rather arrogant boy as well as she can.
This is not a book for deep reflections. It is, quite honestly, more of a ‘delightful romp’ kind of book. Gwyneth’s actions will have you cracking up more often than not, and the time travel is more of a ‘let’s have fun with costumes’ time. Even the strange secret agency seems to have little malice in its rather bumbling heart. Or maybe it is that Gwyneth makes everything light and humorous for us.
But at the same time, it’s not quite all fun and games. There are scenes of intense action, where the characters make choices they then struggle with. The fast pace, while hiding some small plot holes, pulls you along for the ride. The love story just adds juiciness and interest. You will, I guarantee, finish this book already reaching for the next–better have it on hand!
Also, I want to have a moment where I just fangirl over Kerstin Gier. She’s a german author who has somehow EXACTLY captured what an English schoolgirl might think about (at least from the perspective of an American teenager, which admittedly might not be too accurate). And whoever translated these books did so skillfully and with deep thought towards how to best present the material. If I didn’t know it was a translation, I…well, I wouldn’t have known. Reason number 115 why Kerstin Gier, and this series, is awesome.
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Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us.