John Wright does it again. This is the second book of collected stories I’ve read from him, the other being Awake in the Night Lands, and cannot recommend him highly enough. I’ve read, and watched, my fair share of time travel stories and Wright leaves them all in the dust, even Mull’s Grip of the Shadow Plague subplot which I had just read to my kids. His vision is far more expansive, far more human and far more frightening than what I’ve encountered elsewhere. Not only does he pursue the logical and moral ramifications of what unfettered time travel would entail and what that would do to those that master it, he also presents two sides, a heaven and a hell, the costs of each, and lets the reader decide which one he would seek.
Wright combines a healthy dose of historical references, the horror of being a pawn to inescapable forces without limit or remorse, and Christian themes of faith, sin, repentance, sacrifice and redemption. His stories point to something that exists which is more powerful than the build up of filth over eons from the Masters of Time seeking to satiate their base desires at any cost, including avoiding the personal costs. All this, and more, is deftly woven together; and, in high style of a book concerning time travel, the ending made me read the beginning again, because the thematic looping hits all the right notes.
He deals with the lack of cause and effect without descending into a mere fever dream. The logical chains of decisions and actions are consistent, even after stipulating anything that could be changed, has been and will be. Wright navigates all this with wonderful prose, a clever eye for the right details and seemingly without effort. It’s a clear sign of just how sharp he is when what could have been a muddled mess but is instead crystal clear.
He writes as if Ray Bradbury and G.K. Chesterton stepped into an oddly shimmering portal, fractured the timelines, and produced an amalgamation, bent on one thing and one thing only: to produce engaging and enlightening entertainment disguised as books. *Cue thundercrash and lightning strike*
– Review by Russell May on Amazon