Review – The Art of Stealing Time (Traveller #2) by Katie MacAlister


Publisher: Signet (Penguin)
Publish Date: 9/3/2013
How I got this book: eARC from the publisher

Experts in the art of stealing time, Travellers live on the edge of both mortal and immortal realms. But a few fight their outlaw instincts…

Gwenhwyfar Byron Owens learned everything she knows about potions and spells from her two Wiccan moms, who are forbidden by Otherworld laws from teaching magic to mortals. But when their latest transgression results in the kidnapping of a mortal woman, Gwen figures the only place to hide them all is in Anwyn, the Welsh afterlife…

But Gregory Faa—a member of the Watch—is hot on their heels. A Traveller who has stolen time, he’s eager to prove himself worthy of the Watch, only he has a past with the dark-eyed Welsh beauty he’s been charged with bringing to justice. He’s tempted to just let Gwen disappear into Anwyn, until he realizes that she’s being pursued by a squad of goons and death’s minions.

Gwen is used to taking care of her moms and herself, so she can’t give in to her heart’s demand to trust Gregory, despite the fact that he’s as handsome as the day is long—and the days in Anwyn can last centuries…

*blurb from Goodreads

        I really didn’t know what to expect when I picked this book up for review. Although new to the series, I found the glossary at the back useful and didn’t have much trouble following this book. It seems some characters from the first book make a cameo, but the focus is primarily on a new couple, Gwen and Gregory. I do recommend reading the short-story included with the book (for me, it was located in the front of the eARC) as it details when Gwen and Gregory first met. I think the story itself would be confusing without this bit of introduction.

        The narrative takes a mad-capped, farcical tone throughout, which while fun at times, makes it difficult to provide any sort of analysis of the plot or its characters. I don’t think its meant to be taken quite so seriously. The plot plays it fast and loose, introducing new elements at every corner to suit the purpose of the scene. It felt a bit like taking a trip down the rabbit hole.

        There were some delightful aspects to this book. I enjoyed the distraction of Gwen’s two mothers. They constantly got themselves into sticky wickets leaving Gwen to clean up after them. It made for some funny scenes as Gwen tried to get them out of their latest kerfuffle as chaos rained down around them, all the while the two mom’s kept up this sort of distracted patter as if nothing out of the ordinary was occurring. Gwen’s dialogue was also quite amusing at times as she tended to ramble a lot when nervous or excited, something which I could relate to. Some of the banter between Gwen and Gregory was laugh-out-loud funny. I enjoyed the way MacAlister paired these two and how she created classic moments with just a look.

        On the whole, there just wasn’t much for me to hold on to. The relationship that developed between Gwen and Gregory fell into that insta-lust-to-love trope, which I suppose works for such a lighthearted romp of a story, it just didn’t work for me personally. The majority of this story takes place in Anwyn, the Welsh afterlife, which provided an anything-goes type of setting. It was an odd place where nothing made a whole lot of sense. The leaders were distracted narcissists who made decisions on a whim. “You’re a spy! No, I’m not! Oh, well in that case, now you’re one of my trusted soldiers.” Dungeons turned out to be five-star accommodations complete with picture-taking tourists. The battlefront, where two opposing armies had been going at it for a millennia, had set up camps on opposite sides of the same river within visible distance of each other. There was a downed tree that crossed the river, over which anyone it seemed could pass back and forth between the two camps. No one seemed to take the war all that seriously — each side would send out a single soldier to a battlefield to fight each other in two hour shifts, after which they shake hands and return to their respective camps. Both the King and the leader of the opposing side were too distracted to pay much attention to what was going on around them. Somewhere in all this was a loose plot line that had Gwen and Gregory running around while being pursued by multiple baddies. It was just crazy pants and nothing made a lot of sense. Again, I kind of got the sense that was the whole point.

        While the story itself wasn’t bad, it just didn’t work for me personally. It had some shining moments with dialogue and character reactions. There just wasn’t enough to hook me in and ground me to the story or its characters.

        I give The Art of Stealing Time a C.

3 thoughts on “Review – The Art of Stealing Time (Traveller #2) by Katie MacAlister”

  1. I have tried some Katie McAlister as well, and her writing style and sense of humor are just not for me. My best friend enjoys her dragon books.

  2. I’ve read many of her books and while I enjoyed her style at first, it becomes stale and unfunny really fast. I find many of her “humorous” characters really annoying and have basically given up reading her stuff.

  3. @xaurianx: This was my first book by this author, and I think I’m in agreement with you going by this example. Too bad — there was some potential there.

    @Anne: I can see that. The initial scenes captured my interest, but sadly the story didn’t hold it. Some of the things I enjoyed about the characters at first, I found irritating later on.

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