I received a free copy of this story to review from NetGalley, on behalf of the publisher. It will be released 25 February 2014.
The last time I wrote about a short story was as an undergraduate. I am obscurely worried that this review will be longer than the story. GoodReads says the printed edition will be 90 pages, but that’s a short story to someone who used to only buy books that had spines one inch or wider.
When I saw that NetGalley was offering The Time Tutor by Bee Ridgway, I leapt at the chance to read it. I adored her debut novel, The River of No Return. I wanted to learn more about the world she created, in which some people are born with the ability to travel up and down the River of Time. You will need to have read The River of No Return to fully understand this story. Ridgway doesn’t waste word count on explaining how the time travelling ability works or who the Guild or the Ofan are. This is an incredibly fast read, so there’s almost no time to pick things up from context, either.
The Time Tutor opens on Alva Blomgren giving in to a man who has been pursuing her for months. It’s very late (or very early in the morning) after a party thrown by their mentor, a high ranking member of the Guild. Alva desperately wants to learn to use her native time travelling talent. Unfortunately, her mentor, Hannelore, keeps stalling and putting her off. The morning after the party, Hannelore offers Alva the chance to take the next step, but only if she can unmask the Ofan traitor in their midst.
Once Ridgway sets up the premise, she is off and running. Ridgway has her heroine uncovering plots and secrets left and right, travelling from the eighteenth century to the twelfth to the twentieth and back again—all in the so-skimpy 90 pages. All this and Ridgway also has Alva meet and fall in love, too. The Time Tutor is a blur. It ended before I was ready for it, even though I could see my kindle app ticking down paragraph by paragraph.
I think The Time Tutor would have been much better if Ridgway had let it grow into a novella or a novel. With more length, characters could have been more developed. The blur of events could have expanded into plots twists and wonderful set pieces. There just aren’t enough words in this story.