A Rip Through Time by Kelley Armstrong

What would you say about a story that claims to combine time travel with mystery, romance, and fantasy? All of these elements sparked a flash in me and I said, YES, PLEASE! Thank you to Raincoast Books for the ARC and to The Miramichi Reader for A Rip Through Time by Kelley Armstrong. Admittedly, my first thought was: These are big chunks of story-telling features to claim – could author Kelley Armstrong carry this off? Let’s take a look at how the story unfolded.

A Rip Through Time begins on May 20, 2019, when we meet our protagonist, Canadian homicide detective Mallory Atkinson, while on a trip to Edinburgh. We discover quickly that she’s there to spend time with her ill grandmother, the prognosis being very grave.

“This book kept me guessing and turning the pages well into the night.”

From the opening page, we jump right into the story. “My grandmother is dying, and I am getting coffee. I can tell myself that I’m treating the hospice nurses. I can tell myself that Nan is sleeping, and I can’t do anything right now. I can tell myself that even if she woke, she would never begrudge me a fifteen-minute break. It doesn’t matter. I crossed an ocean to be at her side for her final days … and instead, I’m standing in an Edinburgh coffee shop, ordering lattes and chais as if it’s just another midafternoon caffeine break, as if the doctor hadn‘t told me, thirty minutes ago, that the person I love most in the world will be dead before the weekend.“

The book begins with Mallory on a break to pick up coffee and take in a brief jog, when she is attacked in an alleyway by an unknown assailant.  Mallory loses consciousness and awakens in a strange room. Believing she has been carried off by her attacker, she soon realizes that she is in fact inhabiting the body of Victorian housemaid Catriona Mitchell, and the date is May 20, 1869! Mallory believes that through some rip in time, she and Catriona, while both suffering at the hands of an attacker have crossed paths on the same day, some one hundred and fifty years apart! 

Mallory, as Catriona, must quickly acquaint herself with the workings of Victorian Scotland, as a housemaid to Dr. Duncan Gray, his sister, and their staff. She soon discovers that Dr. Gray is an undertaker, and he also “moonlights as a medical examiner”.  A body has just arrived featuring the strangulation of a young man.  Mallory/Catriona is intrigued with the case, even more so once she realizes the body appears to share similarities to her own attack.  Her hope is to find out who is the murderer so she can perhaps discover a lead to get back to her own time. Time being of the essence, Mallory wants to return to her grandmother’s bedside before she passes away without her being there. She is pressured to maintain her cover as a housemaid, but must find out as much as she can about the killer, and a possible route back to her time before it’s too late!

All through this story, I was intrigued by the book cover’s promise of time travel, mystery, romance, and fantasy: I wondered, could best-selling author Kelley Armstrong pull this off? The answer in one word is a solid YES! This book kept me guessing and turning the pages well into the night. There was so much to uncover – so much intrigue with Victorian Edinburgh beautifully described, the façade as a housemaid compared to a modern police detective, observations of the preliminary study of forensic medicine, and the delightful commentary inside the main character’s head! Yes, she tried many times to reach for her cell phone!

When Mallory as Catriona states, “…I feel as if I’m about to wade into shark-infested waters trying to find the one shark who did this. I stare at the ceiling, mentally sorting through data and feeling pulled in twenty directions while working with both hands tied behind my back.” I could in so many instances relate to Mallory/Catriona’s feelings and efforts. 

I loved these characters and felt that the story being told from the POV of Mallory, in the first person, really added depth, especially with her quick-witted internal talk, and her need to remember her place as a woman-in-service, in this new time within which she finds herself. The historic descriptions of “1869 Scotland written by a 2021 Canadian” are extremely interesting and keep the story burning along at a fast pace.

Kelley Armstrong includes an Author’s Note at the beginning of the story offering an invitation to her readers: “If you share my interest in this time period, you’ll find both a selected and more complete bibliography on my website. The selected version is primarily books written for a general audience, while the complete includes scholarly articles and primary sources.”

As a reader and a writer, I enjoyed A Rip Through Time by Kelley Armstrong. There is so much in this story, and in the hands of this capable best-selling author, I was swept away to Victorian Scotland, cheering for Mallory, despising the murderer, and living alongside all of the characters. I was not ready to say good bye at the end of this book. Fortunately, A Rip Through Time is book one in Kelley Armstrong’s new series and I cannot wait for the second book! A Rip Through Time is out everywhere May 31, 2022.

Kelley Armstrong graduated with a degree in psychology and then studied computer programming. Now she is a full-time writer and parent, and she lives with her husband and three children in rural Ontario, Canada. She is the author of the Rockton mystery series featuring Detective Casey Duncan, which begins with City of the Lost, and the novel Wherever She Goes. She is the editor of the young adult anthology Life Is Short and Then You Die.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Minotaur Books (May 31 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 352 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1250864895
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1250864895

Managing Editor

TMR’s Managing Editor Carrie Stanton has a BA in Political Science from the University of Calgary. She is the author of The Jewel and Beast Bot, and picture books, Emmie and the Fierce Dragon and The Gardener. Carrie loves to write stories that grow wings and transport readers everywhere.  She reads and enjoys stories from every genre.

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