Series: The Chronicles of St Mary's #1
Published by Start Publishing LLC on September 12th 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Science Fiction, Time Travel
Sexual Content: One non-explicit sex scenes and two attempted rapes.
Reviewed by: Kim
“History is just one damned thing after another” - Arnold Toynbee
A madcap new slant on history that seems to be everyone's cup of tea...Behind the seemingly innocuous façade of St Mary's, a different kind of historical research is taking place. They don't do 'time-travel' - they 'investigate major historical events in contemporary time'. Maintaining the appearance of harmless eccentrics is not always within their power - especially given their propensity for causing loud explosions when things get too quiet.Meet the disaster-magnets of St Mary's Institute of Historical Research as they ricochet around History. Their aim is to observe and document - to try and find the answers to many of History's unanswered questions...and not to die in the process.
But one wrong move and History will fight back - to the death. And, as they soon discover - it's not just History they're fighting.
Follow the catastrophe curve from eleventh-century London to World War I, and from the Cretaceous Period to the destruction of the Great Library at Alexandria. For wherever Historians go, chaos is sure to follow in their wake ...
While I was reading Just One Damned Thing After Another, I couldn’t stop thinking of another writer: Terry Pratchett. That has to be one of the highest praise I can give a book, and that was when I was only a few chapters in. It pressed all the right geeky buttons, while still managing to keep up the suspense and danger inherent in travelling back in time to observe critical moments in history.
Max is a brilliant character, the kind of character you root for, faults and all. She’s incredibly bright, very observant, and can be, when it comes to guys, totally clueless. It’s so lovely to have a main character with “darker” bits in her past, who is able to mostly overcome it and be a fantastically fun person to follow. She has some brilliant ah-ha! moments that me almost cheering out loud.
I loved the concept of History (with a capital H) as something that fights back. Early on in the book, on what is supposed to be a simple hop back in time, Max almost accosts someone in the street, History will take care of anything that might disrupt the status quo, with violent efficiency. This is why all the historians do is observe, although they do take videos and eventually make holograms of the places they visit, rebranding them as very precise, very clever computer simulations for the public. The description of the dinosaur hologram, as they show it to researchers and scientists, was a fantastic bit of writing.
The writing was witty and fun, and kept making me smile page after page:
Even as I opened my mouth to ask, there was a small bang from the second floor and the windows rattled.
“Hold on,” said Chief Farell. “I’m duty officer this week and I want to see if the fire alarms fo off.”
“That’s good, isn’t it?” I said.
He sighed. “No, it just means they’ve taken the batteries out again.”
This really was my sort of place.
There were a few moments in the book where things truly took a dark turn, and they were that much more powerful for being contrasted with the funny bits. I did feel there were some very dark bits that weren’t strictly necessary, they didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book.
This is a reprinting of a book from 2013, which means there are another six (!!) books in the series already, which is super exciting. I hope things go smoother in the next book, but like the blurb says, historians, and Max especially, seem to be disaster magnets. I wonder if they were disaster magnets to begin with, or if messing with History makes you more prone to random dinosaur attacks and budget cuts?Series Titles:
- Just One Damned Thing After Another
- A Symphony of Echoes
- A Second Chance
- A Trail Through Time
- No Time Like The Past
- What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
- Lies, Damned Lies and History
- For more alternate history fun, try the Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde.
- For something completely different but that had a similar funny fantasy feel, check out Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, or Johannes Cabal The Necromancer, by Jonathan L. Howard.