Pages: 324 (hardcover)
Published: May 2011 by Henry Holt in the US
Recommended for: those who think they would enjoy an engrossing and fast-paced start to a fun and acclaimed time-travelling series
Sixteen year old Gwyneth Shepard has always known about the family secret: the time-travelling gene which manifests in a precious few of the women in her family. Her cousin Charlotte, as the next of the family prophesied to inherit the gene, has been groomed her entire life in preparation for time-travel via horseback riding and history lessons, fencing and language lessons... and, of course, Charlotte is privy to all the most secret of the time-travellers' secrets. Yet it is Gwen, who is more apt to spend her days watching movies and munching on popcorn with her best friend Lesley than studying or fencing, who finds herself unexpectedly transported to another century.
The members of Gwen's family are alternately outraged and thrilled that she, rather than Charlotte, is the true time-traveller: the 'Ruby' who, it was foretold centuries ago, will prove to be the most powerful of all the twelve time-travellers throughout history. But Gwen is far from delighted to meet her fellow time-traveller, Gideon, whose arrogance and condescending manner towards her doesn't prevent her from falling in love with him a little bit. As Gideon shows his true colors and Gwen muses that he might not be so bad after all, the two of them set off on a journey to the London of the 18th century to meet the famous Count Saint-Germain, the founder of their secret organization whose ruthlessness Gwyneth has been warned about as often as she's heard stories of his charisma and greatness.
This was an instantly engrossing and always entertaining read-- I really think it could hold the most reluctant readers' attention. (Note to self: give this book to little sister.) Ruby Red is also a book which can be enjoyed by all ages, from tweens to adults. Its sparkly cover seems to hint that it is marketing to younger readers in the US, at least, but anyone would enjoy this intriguing and unique world of magic, clandestine secrets, and, of course, time travel. The translation from German to English is smooth and flawless-- which is only to be expected, seeing as it was translated by Anthea Bell, who also translated many of Cornelia Funke's German books for the English-speaking masses.
I totally enjoyed this book-- my only real beef were the limits placed on time travel in Ms. Gier's particular magic system. Time-travellers can only travel back a few centuries, eliminating the prospects of my favorite time periods: Ancient Egypt and Augustan Rome. They can also only spend a few hours at most in a different time, and cannot travel within their own lifetimes. The biggest issue which arose from reading this book is how I'm going to learn to read to German-- for I simply cannot wait a year for Sapphire Blue to be released in the US!
Cover: 3/5 (meh)
Plot: 5/5Overall Rating: 4.5/5