This review is part of the blog tour for this book! Please check out the other stops on the tour!
I am always intrigued by time travel narratives and this one has to be one of the more conceptually inventive I've read. It doesn't hurt that it is also a beautiful multitude of stories all featuring female protagonists of different backgrounds—women of color, queer women, those from all different social and geographical backgrounds—and these women make up the main fabric of this book.
So often—in real life and in fiction—the achievements of women have been overshadowed by those of men. But Mascarenhas has her pioneers (the people who invent time travel) all be women, which means their contribution can't be erased. Perhaps that is one reason so many women are drawn to time travel in the book, as there seem to be many more women than men who take up the reigns.
As with any book where you're messing about with time, there have to be rules, and the slow uncovering of how time works and what the time travelers are able to do and not do is one of the true pleasures of this book. There are several time periods and many characters at play between the chapters, but I didn't have trouble keeping the narrative threads straight at all. It felt great to see all the plot points fall into place—some just how I'd guessed and others that truly surprised me. This book is nothing if not expertly plotted and paced.
Yes, this is pitched as a murder mystery, which is definitely true, but it is also a deeply interior and psychological tale exploring the impact that time travel has on people. What can it do to your body, your mind? How might it impact your relationships with your loved ones, with yourself? When you know too much about your own future and those of the people you are close to, how do you cope? There are so many questions that the narrative not only brings up but (in my opinion, more importantly) explores.
The murder mystery segment is definitely an integral part of the forward motion of the plot, being what brings characters together, forces them out of their comfort zones, and makes things happen. But it really isn't the point of the book. I found myself much more interested in the development of the characters, their relationships, how they moved through life and through time, found each other and coped. The mystery is just something that touches all of them and starts raising those important questions.
If you like books about time travel, this one is obviously for you. But I think this feminist and literary examination of relationships, psychology, and science will appeal to many. It's going to be a book I think about for a long time. It's hard to say I've already found a book that might be a favorite of 2019 when 2018 isn't even over yet, but keep your eyes open for this one!
My thanks to Crooked Lane Books for my advance copy to read and review.
The Psychology of Time Travel publishes 2/12/19.
Associate editor, amateur photdographer, bibliophile, and occasional sleuth.