Release date: January 5, 2016
n one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles, but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.
Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods-a powerful family in the Colonies-and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, his passenger, can find. In order to protect her, Nick must ensure she brings it back to them-whether she wants to or not.
Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are playing, treacherous forces threaten to separate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home forever.
Dimensional travel boos are my weakness, whether they pertain to jumping through time or space. Passenger is about time travel in a single flowing timeline, a universe in which changes extend from a ripple created by the travelers journeys. Canonically, their travel is limited to the passages already present, which kept Etta safe and oblivious for all these years since there wasn’t a passage to her time. But on the day of her first big performance, she is taken by the Ironwoods, a family of time travelers who want her to retrieve a stolen object. Along with her is Nicholas, who is indebted to the same family, and has to serve to earn his freedom.
The plot being largely character-driven, the pacing is quite slow in the first half. There is canon being established, the rules of the traveling explained, and a budding attraction between Nicholas and Etta being set up. He finds her personality fierce and her a strong girl, while Etta is marveled by the gentleness she finds in a such a stoic exterior. Etta wants to save her mother, her tutor and keep the object out of the hands of the Ironwoods. Nicholas’ primary driving force is the fact that he is a person of color in a time when they were slaves – so his mistrust of people in general is explained, but not his quick reflex of violence. He constantly feels that they have no future, because they are from different eras and she keeps fighting this. Theirs is a slow burn kind of romance which exponentially flames, as they pass through WWII London, Angkor Wat in the 18th century, then Paris in the same, and finally Damascus in the 16th.
As the world building goes, Bracken has done an excellent job with the canon and the different eras. I had a few doubts regarding how a traveler is exactly but into exile, but I’m guessing we will see that in the next. The characters are richly imagined, and have depth to their personalities. One big trait that Etta showed was adaptability – she had to work situations to her advantage, learn how to blend in. At the start, she fumbles but soon she settle into it like a seasoned traveler. The title makes an interesting play into the storyline itself, as it signifies the role she is playing, and how she can be more than that. The finale, in particular, left a lot of uncertainty but a lot of excitement for the sequel. This has truly been a good start to this series.
Received a free galley from Disney-Hyperion via Netgalley; this does not influence my opinion or the review.
Oh, and I loved this trailer so much: