Meanwhile, Nicholas and Sophia are racing through time in order to locate Etta and the missing astrolabe with Ironwood travellers hot on their trail. They cross paths with a mercenary-for-hire, a cheeky girl named Li Min who quickly develops a flirtation with Sophia. But as the three of them attempt to evade their pursuers, Nicholas soon realises that one of his companions may have ulterior motives.
As Etta and Nicholas fight to make their way back to one another, from Imperial Russia to the Vatican catacombs, time is rapidly shifting and changing into something unrecognisable ... and might just run out on both of them.
The sequel to Passenger picks up almost immediately where we left it: Etta wakes up in the hands of the Thorns, along with supposed-to-be-dead Julian Ironwood. Meanwhile Nicholas and Sophia are on the hunt for Rose and more information on how to get back to Etta and find the astrolabe, and hopefully put an end to all this. Even though I did enjoy this, especially getting some answers, it felt really long, and had a pretty slow start as Etta and Nicholas were separated throughout time.
As with Passenger, there was a lot of jumping through time; the variety of different periods and places, both famous and normal, was fascinating. However, messing with the time line was totally confusing me! Etta and Henry go to Russia in 1919 and have dinner with the Tsar, who totally should have been dead for a year! Between this and Rose being a cagey, secretive know-it-all, I stopped guessing what was going to happen. Not that it wasn't thrilling all the same, because it was. But between the adventures there was a lot of family politics and that was both confusing and a little dull.
What Bracken did incredibly well here was the diversity; we already knew about Nicholas's troubles being taken seriously as a African American, but now we also had a subtle gay romance when Sophia has an her eye on another traveller. Speaking of, there was lots more to be understood Sophia, as we see a different side to her, more vulnerable, as she flirts with Li Min and lets some secrets go about her childhood.
While I enjoyed the story, I think it was the characters that really made me love this duology. Etta and Nicholas are in many ways complete opposites but they balance each other, find strength in each other, and it's quite difficult not to root for them. And then there's the secondary characters, Sophie, Li Min, Henry, Julian, Rose and of course the Grand Master himself, who made this book come to life with such complexity. I highly recommend this duology for fans of time travel, diversity, romance and swash-buckling adventures!
Published 12th January 2017 by Quercus. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for my copy in exchange for an honest review.