The Flowers of Time (3rd book of Lost in time series) by A.L. Lester
I received an ARC copy in exchange of an honest review
I first discovered A.L. Lesters books when I was looking for time traveller stories. I think the concept of time travel is fascinating and stories that use this plot device cleverly and effectively, appeal to people. Even when it’s used in easy-going manner it can be entertaining. But as with any instrument in a writers tool-belt it can be misused. In A.L. Lester’s books time travel is more like a form of magic or a byproduct of a magical ritual.
So the idea of not science induced time travel was thrilling when I first started to read the Lost in Time series. Despite of all the appealing facts, I had my doubts, because some stories use time travel or magic as a Deus ex Machina. They throw the characters in terrible situations, drag them down to hell and back, make them miserable, just to undo all of it in the end. It is sad to see good storylines go to waste, not to mention the long hours of reading with it.
When I came across A.L. Lester’s magic and time travel mix of a series – Lost in Time – I knew at first glance that these books incorporate the magical an paranormal aspects really well. In all volumes of the series (3 books and 1 short story) the characters adapt to situations and behave believably. The magical and paranormal is ever present while not becoming a remedy/solution for everything. It is only a tool and this is the key to a good series. So, let’s take a good look of the book (as spoiler-free as I can manage).
The Flowers of Time
🌺Short explanation of the story:🌺
Jones has spent the majority of her life in the Himalayas, with her father and her father’s indigenous friends. After her father’s passing, Jones returns to London in order to fulfill her father’s dying wish namely to reconnect with her family and learn about her roots. And to marry should she find someone suitable. She obliges and while carrying out her father’s last wish she realizes that the English society is not the one where she belongs and that she’s not the lady she should have been and that she never will be accepted in the Londoner society.
During an evening she meets with Edith (Edie) and her brother and befriends them. Then Jones and Edie meet again in Srinagar from where they depart on an adventure through Little Tibet in the pursue of rare flowers of the Himalayas, and Jones’ past. In the meanwhile uncovering their feelings for each other.
- This book contrary to the previous books of the series only uses the paranormal and magic as a plot forming tool but not the time travel. But this wasn’t an issue for me, the magic still complements the story very well.
- I liked Jones from the moment of her first appearance. She’s a flashed out character, easily relatable. She’s genuine, she has a complex personality along with her flaws, her actions have true motives and every time she does something it’s always believable and acceptable.
- The story is dense and has a rapid pace, the story skips weeks, even months of irrelevant events, like Jones’ travel to England and then back to the Himalayas. Due to these “jumps” the story is able to concentrate only on the important events that take the characters froward.
- The introduction of the magical/paranormal element is delayed in the book which may seem contradictory to the above mentioned rapid pacing. But its okay because there are plenty of hints the characters cannot explain by reason.
- The mysterious book is back from the other volumes, or even better to say, makes it first appearance because it’s the earliest part of the whole story.
Her full name is Frances Jones, but she goes with “just” Jones everytime she can. She’s a non-binary character not really fitting among the rules of the English fine-society. She’d grown up freely without the constraints of society and her father didn’t force her to become a delicate lady at home. Therefore her behavior patterns could be considered masculine and attributed to men at that time comes more naturally to her. She wasn’t brought up on fairytales and indoctrinating how to be a well-behaved girl and a young woman suitable for marriage. So she doesn’t want love, doesn’t want to be married especially to anyone she barely knows.
Why would she? She’s brave and strong, with a strong grip on her independence and self-reliance. The only one grabbing her attention is Edie, but she needs time to work through her own feelings and decide to act by them. This a slow burning part of the story, but nonetheless an interesting one. As readers we can see and observe what’s coming before the characters could even realize it.
Jones became one of my favorite characters. I liked Edie too, but she hadn’t had as big of an impression on me as Jones has.
Edith Merton is a sweet girl, well-behaved, soft-spoken, she’s everything the society requires from her. There is nothing unconventional about her, at least at the first glance. There is so much more in her, she’s an artist making paintings and drawings during their travels, she’s brave and can fend for herself even if she looks fragile and out of her element. Her modesty and humbleness were so cute and charming it seems impossible not to like her.
Growing up among strict social rules, she’s well aware what is expected from her equally in behavior and as a cog in the well-oiled machine of society. So discovering her feelings and everything hiding deep inside her, and bringing everything to the light requires different kind of bravery from her, but she manages to find it eventually.
🌺Magical/paranormal aspects and my opinion about the story:🌺
I really liked every word of the book. The story was well balanced, it had a really good blend of reality and supernatural, they complemented each other. Every bit of the mystery unfolded before our eyes with the exact same pacing as the characters uncovered it, there wasn’t even one moment when we readers were one step ahead the characters. And I liked it, liked the the tension, the wait the idle times too.
It was refreshing to witness Jones’ and Edie’s slow-burning transition from friendship to something more. It was full of sentiments and insecurities. It wasn’t scorching hot, but those genuine feelings and caring all but melted my heart several times. I liked the deep and heartfelt conversations between Jones and Edie, the way their perception of the world and beliefs collided, but they always managed to overcome their differences.
🌺How easy to read for a non-native English speaker: 🌺
The combination of a good plot and a very pleasant writing style, the pacing and the length of about 150 pages will mean you’ll blow through it in no time. The chosen time period is 1779-1782 so as a non-native english speaker I was curious how difficult will it be. It turned out to be a page turner and a really easy read. There were a few new word in it I had to check up in a dictionary, but it was nothing hindering the reading experience. So in my opinion it was a pleasant read not causing any headache for non native English speakers.
The Flowers of Time is a very good entertaining story, I recommend it to anyone who likes mysteries, magic and paranormal. You won’t be disappointed, believe me. The only reason I gave it four and a half stars is that I liked Alec and Lew from the other books of the series a bit better.
Source of the cover image: unsplash.com (Paul)