MARKING TIME by April White, Book Review: Entertaining escape

Marking Time Synopsis

Marking Time by April White

Seventeen-year-old tagger Saira Elian can handle anything… a mother who mysteriously disappears, a stranger who stalks her around London, and even the noble English Grandmother who kicked Saira and her mother out of the family. But when an old graffiti tag in a tube station transports Saira to the 19th Century and she comes face-to-face with Jack the Ripper, she realizes she needs help after all.

Saira meets Archer, a charming student who helps her blend in as much as a tall, modern American teen can in Victorian England. He reveals the existence of the Immortals: Time, Nature, Fate, War and Death, and explains to Saira that it is possible to move between centuries – if you are a Descendant of Time. 

Saira finds unexpected friendships at a boarding school for Immortal Descendants and a complicated love with a young man from the past. But time is running out for her mother, and Saira must embrace her new identity as she hides from Archer a devastating secret about his future that may cost him his life. 

Genre: Young Adult, Thriller, Adventure, Sci-Fi-Fantasy, Romance, Historical

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Marking Time is the first title in a planned young adult urban fantasy series ‘The Immortal Descendants’ by author April White. I’m not normally attracted to the young adult genre but I do have a thing for time travel, so that along with the complexities eluded to in the synopsis tipped the scales for me.

There is much to like about White’s lead character Saira – she’s tough and independent, has street-smarts and a good dose of teenage attitude (enough to get herself in a few scrapes but not enough to turn me off).

I heard the hiss of spray paint just as I turned the corner. Two bangers in respirators were throwing up tags, and though their drawings were decent, it was all gang signs and territory markers. Bangers are sheep with fangs as far as I’m concerned. Anyone who needs to belong to something that badly doesn’t have the confidence to stand alone.

What particularly appealed to me though was an underlying sense of maturity and acceptance of responsibility for those she interacted with in her time travel. While her physical dexterity was more than a match for many would-be assailants, it was her courage and willingness to sacrifice her own happiness to protect innocents that really added depth and made this story so compelling. All in all, a great role model for its target audience.

I didn’t even think, I just ran… toward the screams. I’m not the hero-type. I don’t think it’s my duty to save people, but I can’t stand bullies. This flies directly in the face of my need for camouflage, but there are some times it just isn’t right to blend.

The settings in this novel were fantastic. How could you go wrong with the Victorian England culture clash and a Jack the Ripper tie-in! And the descriptions of the gothic maze of the boarding school in modern England evoked a sense of the sinister and mysteries lurking around every corner. I can just imagine Marking Time on the big screen.

I think the time travel element was executed well (not always the case), the fantasy powers assigned to many of the ensemble cast quite cleverly utilised, and while ever present and very sweet, thankfully the romantic element was not the sole driver of the plot.

The prose is not perfect and there is a stereotype or two at play, but overall Marking Time by April White is a highly entertaining escapist read, sufficiently complex to hold the interest of mature readers. Should a second title in the Immortal Descendants Series be published, I will certainly be getting a copy…

BOOK RATING: The Story 4 / 5 ; The Writing 4 / 5

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Related Reads:
The Book of Lost Fragrances by MJ Rose  /  To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis  /  The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger  /  Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen  /  The Collector of Dying Breaths by MJ Rose

About the Author, April White

April White has been variously a film producer, private investigator, bouncer, and screenwriter. Marking Time is her first novel, and she lives in Southern California with her husband, two sons, their dog, and various chickens.

* My receiving an ebook copy of this title from the author for review did not hinder the expression of my honest opinions above.