Book Review: The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma

For an eclectic ride through literary and historical fiction, look no further than The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma. This book, already a hit overseas, come to U.S. stores in a new translation on June 28th.

Palma employs a whimsical story-telling technique to combine fiction, with real-life figures such as H.G. Wells, Jack the Ripper, and others.

A Map of Time by Felix J. Palma. Set in Victorian London with characters real and imagined, The Map of Time is a page-turner that boasts a triple play of intertwined plots in which a skeptical H.G. Wells is called upon to investigage purported incidents of time travel and to save lives and literary classics, including Dracula and The Time Machine, from being wiped from existence. What happens if we change history?

Palma’s writing harkens back to the books of Wells’ era, and though perfectly employed in The Map of Time, readers accustomed to YA may find it difficult to get through. It’s a much slower, deliberate sort of writing style than the fast-paced, page-turning prose most YA readers are used to. (Though The Map of Time is an adult book, so this comparison isn’t really fair — I only mention it here because we usually feature YA literature here at Novel Novice.) For adult readers, simply take note of this: Palma writes in an old-fashioned style, so approach the book as if it were written during a bygone era.

The strongest part of The Map of Time is simply the creativity. The idea of combining fact, fiction, history and literature is not new — but it’s one I am continually fascinated by. It’s almost like high-brow crossover fan fiction. The fun of reading The Map of Time comes from waiting to see how Palma will tie together all the elements teased in the jacket copy: H.G. Wells, Jack the Ripper, Dracula, and others.

Likewise, the writing itself is beautiful — and much credit goes not only to Palma, but to translator Nick Caistor. (The book was originally published in Spain.)

The pacing of the story is quite slow, so you’ll need to be patient — and not all readers will be willing to stick with the story to get to the meat. But if you’re a fan of Palma’s old-fashioned writing style, and patient enough to read through his various tangents and side-stories, you’ll find yourself well-rewarded.

The Map of Time is in stores June 28th.

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