Reviewed by Steve Dean
I try to like this vanity printed stuff, I really do. I open each volume with the hope that I will one day find a book worth the life of the trees sacrificed to produce it. After reading this book, my search continues.
So, it seems there are two very special egg timers in the world, capable of transporting their owners to any time they wish. (I don’t know, try Amazon?) Loner Arthur Benjamin is given one by a mysterious shop owner, (no really!) which he uses to transport grand-duchess Tatiana Nicolaivna from imperial Russia to present-day South Africa. It turns out this kind of thing has been a regular occurrence over the years, and the pair set out to investigate.
This, right at the beginning, is where things start to go wrong. It’s a matter of not knowing where to start, as there’s not really anything that works here. The story is flat, unoriginal and predictable, with massive holes in the plot. And there are several incidents of the main characters knowing things they shouldn’t, things the readers know, but where the characters weren’t even present when the information was revealed.
Next is the dialogue, which doesn’t work at all. As I’ve said before, people don’t talk like that, like they’re writing a diary entry. And all the characters speak the same, whether modern English or imperial Russian.
Overall, the story is dull, passionless and far too long. And the price is far too high, but that’s obviously part of the whole vanity printing thing.