The Map of Time - the title holds all sorts of possibilities as well. The word ‘map’ indicates travel to exotic and mysterious destinations and the word ‘time’ – well, obviously, there’s some time traveling going on inside those pages. How fun is that!? Waiting for this book to arrive in my mailbox, I felt that shiver of anticipation I always get when I know it’s only a matter of time before I’ll be lost in a great story.
I had all sorts of imagery running through my mind about angels and ghosts but as it turns out I’m very bad at puzzling plots out based on covers! Happily, despite my incorrect assumptions, I quite enjoyed The Map of Time. The book is divided into three distinct, yet connected, parts and there is a nameless narrator (the figure on the cover?) who addresses the reader directly, and at times, humorously, at the beginning of each section and occasionally within the sections. Time travel and H. G. Wells figure prominently in each and one or more of the protagonists in one part will make an appearance in another. It always fascinates me when an author manages to tie a plot together using this story-telling device. It must be difficult to pull off but Mr. Palma does it exceedingly well.
Each character is well-fleshed out. There is background story and context and motivations are clear. The story is filled with the atmospheric squalor that was sometimes Victorian London. Prevailing attitudes regarding women are spot on and speculation by the characters about what the distant future would be like was interesting and sometimes quite funny.
If I were to categorize this book I’d put it in with Drood by Dan Simmons and The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova – just for the attention to detail and the ability of the writer to take a reader on an adventurous journey not soon forgotten. The Map of Time is loaded with atmosphere and imagination and I highly recommend it.