Books – and all stories – that involve time travel are always walking a delicate line. The perception of readers today is so great that any inconsistency within the way the actual act of time travel works in the book will be immediately pick up on and can be used to disregard the other qualities of the story. And yet, anything that tries overly hard to overcomplicate the processes also risks alienating the reader by making the whole topic overly confusing.
So, any writer who attempts to pull off a book where the capers involved all come about through time travel either deserves plaudits for bravery or for someone to have a chat with them to see if they’re feeling okay. It’s certainly not something for the faint of heart; which is why it is exceptionally thrilling to read something where the whole device works so effortlessly, and brings with it so much joy and fun (things which sometimes seem in short supply these days).
Million Eyes by C.R. Berry does just this – taking readers on an adventure across the ages on a time travelling crime caper where we meet ancient kings and courtiers, but also to members of a suspicious organisation who have had a hand in royal assassinations and other key historical events throughout the centuries.
It’s a fast-paced thriller and one in which you feel the author is always in total control of the time travel dynamics behind it. You’d expect nothing less, of course, as Berry has already written an extensive article on the various time travel devices available to authors – and the different pitfalls and challenges that must be navigated when using each one.
The attention to detail Berry brings to the time travel plot device is also brought to the way the author brings to life the different historical periods readers encounter as we zip along different timelines. Whether that’s reimagining the medieval English forests where King William II met his untimely end, or the mid 1990s – and the car crash that killed Princess Diana. It’s an admirable skill and clear that Berry has devoted a lot of hours of research to make sure all the details not only fit together for the story, but wouldn’t be called out by any forensic historians (time travelling or otherwise).
The speed at which the pace of plot moves along is refreshingly fun – you can zip through this book very quickly and it’s a fine way to spend a weekend under coronavirus lockdown. But it does mean that, with so many different characters to keep track of, it can be a struggle to emotionally connect with them all. Fortunately, there’s a lot of dialogue which helps bring the characters we meet to life and, while there are times the conversations don’t entirely feel fully true, it does help you orient yourself within the “timey-wimey” twists and turns of the plot.
There’s a touch of both Mantel and Philip K. Dick to this story; and the theory of altered timelines with a mysterious book at the centre of the plot certainly brings to mind the latter’s masterful Man in the High Castle. While Million Eyes doesn’t quite reach the same lofty heights as these titans, there’s certainly something in this book for fans of both historical fiction and sci-fi to enjoy. Indeed, it’s a book for readers from all places (and indeed, all times), and perfect for anybody in need of a few thrills, and lots of fun.
Million Eyes by C.R. Berry is published by Elsewhen presshttps://elsewhen.press/index.php/catalogue/title/million-eyes/