Ruby Red

(Edelstein Trilogie #1)
by Kerstin Gier
translated by Anthea Bell

Ruby Red cover

For Gwyneth, life is only a touch strange. She can see and talk to ghosts and her great aunt sees visions. Her cousin is also being meticulously groomed to be the fated member of the family possessing the ability to travel through time. Which is just fine with Gwen. Until, you know, it turns out she’s the one with the special gene.

Oops.

Now Gwen’s trying to figure out hoop skirts and determine the mysteries her family has always hidden from her.

Let’s start right off the bat with that ridiculously gorgeous cover. It is a freaking masterpiece. I don’t think, though, that it represents the book well. That cover says this is a Serious Historical Novel. It doesn’t speak to the fun that Ruby Red possesses, nor the lighthearted-ness of our narrator, Gwen. So, I’m actually not upset Henry Holt has opted to change the look for the rest of the series (even though my trilogy won’t match), but still. Gorgeous.

Onto the review of the information contained within that glorious wrapping!

So, I normally really struggle with translated books. They always seem to lack the spark I want or, usually, the dialogue seems stiff. And I did notice this with Ruby Red, specifically during the info-dumps and when a sarcastic/teenage moment dialogue section was going on. I think, for the most part, it can be really difficult to capture those moments in translation.

It does speak wonders to both Gier and the translator, Bell, that it wasn’t enough to put me off. (The same could not be said for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.) By the end of the book I was captivated by the mysteries that were unfolding. I also really, really liked Gwen and her friendship with Lesley. While I thought the interactions between the two suffered a lot in translation, the root of the friendship was spot on for me: you tell your best friend everything and she totally helps out as much as possible. Was it a little over the top? Probably. But it worked for me.

What confused me the very, very most was the family tree of the members of the time traveling society. This, however, appears to be at least semi-intentional, as a character in the book noted how impossible it was to keep track of where everyone fell in line. There was a lot of info-dumping throughout the novel, which was both good and bad. As the first book in a trilogy, I expect it, but I found some of the information to be confusing and not helpful. Judging by reviews of the later novels, though, many of these information mysteries seem to clear up, so that’s something.

The story arcs were interesting ones and I’m excited to see where they all end up leading. As I said before, I really liked the Big Mystery of who this society is and what they’re trying to do – I have my guesses, but honestly have no clue where that’s going. It doesn’t help that there are all kinds of mixed messages, brainwashing and secrets being kept from our lovely protag.

I’m hoping the romance arc doesn’t completely overwhelm the story in future books – it’s a nice touch, but the Mystery is WAY more important.

You always know a book is good when you get to the end and are outraged to find the next book doesn’t get released until OCTOBER. While I did find some of the translation to be sticky and stiff, on the whole I thought it was an exciting and funny time-travel book.

Where this book came from: my shelf
Published by: Henry Holt and Co.

p.s. I also have to give props to the quotes, charts, diary entries, etc., that are spattered throughout the novel. I LOVE when authors do this. Love, Love, Love.

p.p.s. SOMETHING HAPPENED IN THE EPILOGUE THAT IS DRIVING ME CRAZY. I cannot figure out if it’s a red herring or spot on. OMG.

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