Literary Links: Time Travel

The concept of time travel opens a whole world of possibilities and complexities. If you could change the past, would you change a key moment in history or maybe just in your own life? What might the consequences be? Time travel in fiction ranges from fun, almost frivolous adventures, to stories that raise serious questions about the potential disasters that could await even the most careful time travelers.

Here are some books that explore different kinds of time travel. Some try to answer big questions, and others just have fun with it.

To say nothing of the dog by Connie Willis book coverI had to start off this list with an older title and a personal favorite of mine: “To Say Nothing of the Dog” by Connie Willis. It combines many elements I love: time travel, romance and historical fiction, all with a dash of zaniness.

In “To Say Nothing of the Dog,” Oxford historians travel through time to study history. Promised funding in exchange for helping the demanding Lady Schrapnell rebuild a historically perfect Coventry Cathedral, Ned has spent too much time in the past searching for a particularly hideous creation known as the bishop’s bird stump. Suffering from severe time lag, and desperate to escape Lady Schrapnell, Ned is sent to Victorian England for a rest. He just has one simple task to do first: correct an incongruity related to fellow historian Verity Kindle. Victorian hijinks ensue, involving jumble sales, table turning and a cat… to say nothing of the dog. If you love this, there are others in the series. Technically this is book two, but you can definitely start here.

In Mike Chen’s “Here and Now and Then,” it’s 2142, time travel is a reality and Kin Stewart works for the Temporal Corruption Bureau, trying to protect the timeline from changes. Kin finds himself stuck in the 1990s for years, eventually settling into his new time and building a family. But when rescue finally comes, his past and future collide, placing his daughter’s life at risk.

The 7/5 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle book cover

When Evelyn Hardcastle is murdered, Aiden Bishop finds himself caught in a time loop, repeating the day over and over until he solves the murder in Stuart Turton’s “The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle.” But, there’s a twist! Each time the loop repeats, he wakes up in the body of a different guest at the house party.

Another time travel mystery is “A Murder in Time” by Julie McElwain, in which FBI agent Kendra Donovan finds herself at Aldrich Castle in 1815. As she struggles to blend into the past while solving the puzzle of how she ended up there in the first place, she’s drawn into a murder investigation. Only now she doesn’t have any modern inventions to help her solve the crime.

What the Wind knows by Amy Harmon book coverIn another instance of mysterious time travel, Anne Gallagher visits her grandfather’s childhood home in Ireland after his death and is pulled into the Ireland of his stories in “What the Wind Knows” by Amy Harmon. Ireland in 1921 is a dangerous place as the struggle for Irish independence intensifies. Dealing with grief, and mistaken for someone else, Anne begins to find love even as she must figure out where, or when, she truly belongs.

Combining time travel, fantasy and ghosts in the first of a series, Paula Brackston’s “The Little Shop of Found Things” finds Xanthe transported to the 1600s. Xanthe’s always been able to sense some of the history behind antiques, but one day she encounters an item that sparks a stronger reaction. Sent into the past, Xanthe is confronted by a ghost who demands she stop an injustice. To do so, she’ll need the help of an architect who may give her a reason to stay in the past.

Twice in a lifetime by Melissa Baron book cover

A text message from an unknown number changes everything for Isla Abbot in “Twice in a Lifetime” by Melissa Baron. The text is from a man named Ewan, who claims to be Isla’s husband from the future and offers a wedding photo of them as proof. Still skeptical, Isla begins texting back. As they grow closer, Isla learns that Ewan is trying to prevent a coming tragedy, but in doing so he’s risking their future together.


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