Book Review: Marking Time (The Immortal Descendants #1) by April White

16122623Title: Marking Time (The Immortal Descendants #1)

Author: April White

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Age Group: Young Adult

Rating: 5 stars

Review copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Seventeen-year-old tagger Saira Elian can handle anything… a mother who mysteriously disappears, a stranger who stalks her around London, and even the noble English Grandmother who kicked Saira and her mother out of the family. But when an old graffiti tag in a tube station transports Saira to the 19th Century and she comes face-to-face with Jack the Ripper, she realizes she needs help after all.

Saira meets Archer, a charming student who helps her blend in as much as a tall, modern American teen can in Victorian England. He reveals the existence of the Immortals: Time, Nature, Fate, War and Death, and explains to Saira that it is possible to move between
centuries – if you are a Descendant of Time.

Saira finds unexpected friendships at a boarding school for Immortal Descendants and a complicated love with a young man from the past. But time is running out for her mother, and Saira must embrace her new identity as she hides from Archer a devastating secret about his future that may cost him his life.

Marking Time is one of the best books I’ve ever read. Ever. Seeing as this comes from the girl who averages between 150 and 200 books read a year, that’s saying something. April White has a remarkable talent for creating strong, realistic characters, amazing fantasy settings and intriguing, surprising plots. Needless to say I’m more than a little amazed by the author’s ability to combine all three of these elements into one book. I read Marking Time in about three days, in the middle of university exams, so that’s saying something. I longed for my breaks simply because I wanted to read this gem.

Our main character, Saira Eilan has it tough. Her mother vanished into thin air, but that’s not what she’s worried about, since her Mom happens to do this approximately every two years. No, she’s worried about a strange fellow chasing her around while she’s exploring the catacombs underneath Vienna. She’s worried about the strange but somehow familiar symbol she finds there. As a tagger and free-runner, the city has been her playground for years, but in one night, it turns into a jungle, and she becomes the prey. When she runs into the police who takes her home only to find her home ransacked, her Mom nowhere in sight, she knows she’s running out of luck. The only way to escape child protective services is to hang out with her grandmother, a woman she barely knows and who kicked her Mom out while she was pregnant.

Traveling to London brings more secrets than answers for Saira. Not only does she discover her family is filthy rich and lives in one of the most gigantic old mansions she’s ever seen, she also finds out she’s different than she could ever imagine. When the same guys who chased her in Vienna turn up in London, she barely escapes with the help of a handsome stranger who introduces himself as Archer and claims he’s no stranger at all. But even with Archer’s help, Saira runs into the wrong crowd again, and this time she ends up in London…in 1888. The London of Jack The Ripper, a terrifying, gloomy version of the London she’s come to know. Having no clue what’s going on, Saira bumps into Archer again. Except he’s now Archer in this time, in the nineteenth century, and he has no clue who she is or what she’s doing this far away from home. What’s even worse is that, just before she managed to travel back to the present using a strange marking on the wall, she sees her Mom, dressed like a proper Victorian lady.

For Saira, the secrets pile up, burying her underneath. Who is she? Why can she travel to the past? She hopes to find answers with her family, but is instead sent to an Academy for Immortals, where she meets two Seers who can see into the future, and can instantly predict they’ll be friends. She also meets a friendly teacher, Mr. Shaw, who can transmorph into a bear. And at the academy, she reunites with Archer, now a Vampire, who’s been waiting for her since they first met in London 1888.

But if Saira wants to rescue her mother, who is being held captive in the folds of time, she’ll have to find a way to travel back in time and meet an ancient evil. But doing so may risk Archer’s life, and the lives of her new-found friends.

As you can see even from the brief synopsis I tried to give, this book is long. Long and complicated, and kick-ass awesome. Let’s start by taking a look at the main character, Saira, who isn’t your typical girl. She prefers to stay as far away from others as possible, mostly keeping to herself. It’s been her and her Mom against the world for as long as she can remember, yet she adapts quickly when necessary. She’s witty and sarcastic but not in an over-the-top way. She’s brave, but not foolish, and she’s intelligent enough to figure out what’s going on. She accepts she’s traveled back in time the moment actual proof is given, which to be was a big bonus. Nothing worse than a character complaining about their powers and how this can’t be happening when they have heaps of proof it is happening. All this together makes Saira quite unique, a refreshing, well-developed, multi-dimensional character I would love to read more than one book about.

Secondly, the other cast of characters. Archer was amazing, except I would’ve liked him to have a bit more backbone. I mean, he loves Saira, and tells her. Great. But I expected, if we went back in history, to see more explanation for this. Of course I understand he liked her back then, but it takes a lot to keep on loving someone for over a hundred years, so I would’ve liked a bit more explanation there, or a bit more love. Anyway, apart from that, Archer totally ruled. As a human in 1888, he’s your typical charming gentleman who blushes when he thinks about sleeping in one room with a girl. In the present, he’s a bit more badass, and I liked the constract. It’s not often that we see a book portraying the changes a human goes through when turning into a Vampire, and what hundred years can do to one’s personality and beliefs. I loved this addition here.

Then there’s Adam. All right, I have to admit, I was kind of cheering for Adam and Saira to end up together. But hey, more books, more hope. Adam is a bit arrogant, a bit cocky, but all in all, a good guy. He knows he’s good looking and charmin and isn’t afraid to use it to his advantage, but that’s all playful and innocent. Underneath is the kind of person you can trust upon, the kind of friend everyone wants to have. And he’s a Seer. I mean, what’s cooler than being able to see the future (except wandering back in time of course). Right, nothing! So Adam definitely has my support. With this, I’d also like to give a thumbs up to Mr. Shaw, who wins the teacher of the year award for saying no to all the rules and doing what he thinks is right. Then there’s also Ringo. I loved him. He’s so genuinely good, especially for a ‘street rat’. I wish I would’ve seen a bit more interaction between Saira and her mother though. I had the feeling we didn’t once see her Mom, only heard about her.

The setting was, of course, amazing. How could it not? We have Clockers who travel back in time, Seers who see the future, and age-old family lineages intertwining and fighting. We have a hatred for mixed bloods, which kind of reminded me of Harry Potter, but was still freakingly awesome. The people with special abilities are descendants of time, and I loved the entire legend behind how they got their powers. I also really liked how the author used the names of streets in London, and used an actual historical figure, namely Jack The Ripper. It made me feel like I was actually thrown back in time.

The plot ruled. When you throw all these awesome things together, it can’t go anywhere other than awesome. I was genuinely surprised by how much this plot sucked me in. I was glued to the book until the very last page, and whenever I couldn’t read, I wanted to read. Badly. That’s what an amazing book will do to you, and Marking Time definitely belongs under the category ‘amazing’.

I can’t wait to read the second book in these series. If I could hold Mrs. White’s pen myself and make her write, I would, that’s how good this is. If you want to read one book and one book only in the new year, pick this one.


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