Monday, April 9, 2012

The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma, translated by Nick Caistor



The book's description from the publisher:

Set in Victorian London with characters real and imagined, The Map of Time boasts a triple-play of intertwined plots in which a skeptical H.G. Wells is called upon to investigate purported incidents of time travel and thereby save the lives of an aristocrat in love with a murdered prostitute from the past; of a woman bent on fleeing the strictures of Victorian society; and of his very own wife, who may have become a pawn in a 4th-dimensional plot to murder the authors of Dracula, The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds, in order to alter their identities and steal their fictional creations.

But, what happens if we change history? Félix J. Palma raises such questions in
The Map of Time. Mingling fictional characters with real ones, Palma weaves a historical fantasy as imaginative as it is exciting, a story full of love and adventure that also pays homage to the roots of science fiction while transporting its readers to a fascinating Victorian London for their own taste of time travel.
The Map of Time is my first adventure with steampunk and it also convinced me to allow this genre more of my attention and maybe even to make it one of my favorite novel categories. However, this is a novel that must not be limited to steampunk. If you're a fan of alternate history (otherwise known as alternate universe), if you like literary fiction or like reading books set in Victorian England, I invite you to try The Map of Time. Felix J. Palma really had a great idea and followed up on it with fantastic writing (as opposed to some authors who despite having interesting ideas, can't quite put them on paper to create a successful novel).

I've read in some other reviews that readers didn't appreciate the three different plots which read more like separate novels rather than one, cohesive book but I suppose that's just a matter of personal taste. I like such a style if it's done well (which it is, in The Map of Time) and they all do come together at the finish line, so they're not really separate stories when they all play a role in creating one ending. And it's really written so well that there wasn't a minute of annoying confusion as to who did what or why.

I underlined the 'annoying' because (here comes the best part of Mr. Palma's time-travel, science-fiction work) the author managed to really play with my head. There was a point at which I really couldn't tell what was real and what was imagined, trying to guess in error where the reality ended and fantasy began. This wonderful 'guessing game' that Felix J. Palma served the readers, combined with intelligent, at times very lyrical writing, made it a true pleasure to immerse myself in The Map of Time.

Do not let the size of the novel discourage you. It might just be my personal preference since I do like long books but I really didn't think that even one paragraph was unnecessary. I like reading books to enter a different world and to lose myself in it and for that, it has to be a book with some 'meat' on it. Anything shorter and it seems to me that the story ends before it begun true and proper.
A note on the translator, Nick Caistor. He did a wonderful job of turning Palma's words into English. Nothing is 'lost in translation', I don't think a reader could even tell that The Map of Time was a novel originally written in Spanish. The 'soul' of the book is there and that's what the best translators do.

FTC: I received an ARC of The Map of Time from Atria, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, for a review.

Best news of the day: there's part two of The Victorian Trilogy (which began with The Map of Time), The Map of the Sky, coming out in September, 2012.

Links to visit: 

1) Felix J. Palma's website.

2) The Map of Time website. This one is a must if want to get a feel of the novel before committing yourself to reading it.