From Connie Willis, winner of multiple Hugo and Nebula Awards, comes a comedic romp through an unpredictable world of mystery, love, and time travel...
Ned Henry is badly in need of a rest. He's been shuttling between the 21st century and the 1940s searching for a Victorian atrocity called the bishop's bird stump. It's part of a project to restore the famed Coventry Cathedral, destroyed in a Nazi air raid over a hundred years earlier.
But then Verity Kindle, a fellow time traveler, inadvertently brings back something from the past. Now Ned must jump back to the Victorian era to help Verity put things rightnot only to save the project but to prevent altering history itself.
In 2057 Oxford, historical research is conducted through travel to the past. Unfortunately, Lady Schrapnell has commandeered all researchers to locate items to restore the Coventry Cathedral. Our intrepid time traveler, Ned Henry, has been sent throughout history to recover an obscure, and appropriately hideous, Victorian bird stump. Exhausted from too many jumps through time, he is sent back to 1889 Oxford to regroup, boat along the river, and return an item accidentally brought forward in time. Trouble is, Ned has no idea what he is supposed to do or why the enchanting Verity Brown knows about time travel. Together, Ned and Verity attempt to correct an incongruity that might collapse the space time continuum, while cavorting about literary Oxford. Throughout this amusing combination of mystery and science fiction, the time travelers refer to classic works of fiction based in Victorian England. Verity Brown, apparently related to Kivrin Kindle from Willis's The Doomsday Book (Spectra, 1993) attempts to solve the mystery by recalling the writings of Dorothy Sayers. Ned draws similarities between his situation and that in Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in a Boat, To Say Nothing of the Dog (Viking 1993, (c)1889). Those intrepid explorers, their boating trip along the Thames, and indeed their style of narration is skillfully echoed in this novel. The elements of historical accuracy, mystery, and the convoluted nature of time travel are well balanced and convincing. Like many early mysteries, the reader figures out plot twists that continue to elude the characters, but overall the effect is, well, charming stuff-and-nonsense. VOYA Codes: 4Q 4P S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses, Broad general YA appeal, Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).