The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas, Review: Original

Kate Mascarenhas’ The Psychology of Time Travel is a very modern and highly original take on time-travel fiction.

The Psychology of Time Travel - Kate MascarenhasThe Psychology of Time Travel Synopsis

In 1967, four female scientists worked together to build the world’s first time machine. But just as they are about to debut their creation, one of them suffers a breakdown, putting the whole project—and future of time travel—in jeopardy. To protect their invention, one member is exiled from the team—erasing her contributions from history.

Fifty years later, time travel is a big business. Twenty-something Ruby Rebello knows her beloved grandmother, Granny Bee, was one of the pioneers, though no one will tell her more. But when Bee receives a mysterious newspaper clipping from the future reporting the murder of an unidentified woman, Ruby becomes obsessed: could it be Bee? Who would want her dead? And most importantly of all: can her murder be stopped?

Traversing the decades and told from alternating perspectives, The Psychology of Time Travel introduces a fabulous new voice in fiction and a new must-read for fans of speculative fiction and women’s fiction alike.

(Crooked Lane Books, February 2019)

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There is much to like about Kate Mascarenhas’ debut. It is no surprise to me it garnered such buzz on its release earlier this year.

Time travel has largely been a male-dominated zone, and so The Psychology of Time Travel featuring a highly intelligent and strikingly independent female character set is refreshing to say the least. Refreshing too is the exploration, and in large part normalisation, of diversity in several other respects, e.g. romantic, socio-economic, cultural.

Life’s better with a few risks than a lot of regrets.

But Mascarenhas has not simply bucked the trend with respect to character selection and dystopian world-building. She has re-written the time-travel rule book. I will not spoil this novel’s surprises by revealing how exactly. But I will note the ramifications of doing so was considerably greater plot complexity than I had anticipated.

I’ll admit to feeling a little at sea on occasion… switching back and forth across time and different character viewpoints. This was unusual for me – I normally revel in narrative time jumps and particularly enjoy multiple narrative structures. Eventually, I realised the root cause of this mild seasickness was my mind’s habitual reversion to standard time-travel assumptions.

On the flip side though, Mascarenhas’ rewriting of the time-travel rule book is what created scope for the exploration of the psychological effects of time travel. This theme, and the character learnings that flow from that, really struck a chord with me.

When you go, you want to have people you love to think about. You need enough money to feed yourself, and a sense of purpose is nice. But the rest is superfluous.

While I did not connect with Mascarenhas’ character set as much as I would have liked, I really admire the cleverness and originality of the story she has told in The Psychology of Time Travel. An author whose career I will follow with great interest.

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

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Genre: Science Fiction-Fantasy, Drama, Romance, Mystery

About the Author, Kate Mascarenhas

Kate Mascarenhas is a half-Irish, half-Seychellois midlander. Since 2017, Kate has been a chartered psychologist. Before that she worked as a copywriter, a dollhouse maker, and a bookbinder. She lives with her husband in a small terraced house which she is slowly filling with Sindy dolls. The Psychology of Time Travel is her first novel.

* My receiving a copy from the publisher for review purposes did not impact the expression of my honest opinions.