Now this is one of those books that I’d heard good things about back at Dublin2019, and never got around to it. I did love another Heartfield short story, in a Shakespeare anthology some years ago, and I also own her novel, Armed in her Fashion (still on my TBR) so I had an idea that I’d enjoy it, but never got around to it. I found the audiobooks on Scribd back in late August, and listened to the two of them in a row.
A disillusioned major, a highwaywoman, and a war raging across time.
It’s 1788 and Alice Payne is the notorious highway robber, the Holy Ghost. Aided by her trusty automaton, Laverna, the Holy Ghost is feared by all who own a heavy purse.
It’s 1889 and Major Prudence Zuniga is once again attempting to change history―to save history―but seventy attempts later she’s still no closer to her goal.
It’s 2016 and . . . well, the less said about 2016 the better!
But in 2020 the Farmers and the Guides are locked in battle; time is their battleground, and the world is their prize. Only something new can change the course of the war. Or someone new.
Little did they know, but they’ve all been waiting until Alice Payne arrives.
It’s a fun adventure series, maybe a bit short for the scale of what it’s trying to do. I especially felt like it was missing something in-between the two novellas.
The audiobooks were great, I quite enjoyed the narrator, and at the same time I felt like I’d have needed a paper copy to be able to leaf back through it and piece things together more easily. Time travel usually wrecks my brain and it turns out when you can’t double check what just happened to help you keep track, it’s even harder. But the narration was well worth it.
What can I say, I also enjoyed the characters, all three main one – Prudence, Alice, and Jane. The dynamics between Alice and Jane are… strange at times, at the limit of toxic, and I’m not sure if that was intentional or not. I found it a lot more enjoyable in the second book, where they’re more respectful of each other, and both have a lot more agency/ Jane can be a lot more active and so feels less frustrated by it. With the usual disclaimer that as a white woman I’m not the best placed to judge this aspect, I did find that the choice of two Black women as the leads, especially in times like the late 1780s, and in places like England and America, gave more depth to the story and was well handled.
And highway women robbing rapey and abusive men to get back at them? sign me the eff up!
I did have some… plot related issues with the time travel, like I think at times it did not fully respect the own conventions/rules that were set (e.g. characters remembering things they would have normally forgotten, that kind of thing) and I feel that maybe a longer format would’ve been easier to manage. But as much as I like scifi shenanigans, I still read mostly for the characters, and I was not disappointed in that respect.