The Time Travelers, by Linda Buckley-Archer, for Timeslip Tuesday

The Time Travelers (Book 1 of the Gideon Trilogy), by Linda Buckley-Archer (2006, Simon and Schuster, middle grade, 400 pages)

Peter and Kate, two ordinary 21st century English kids, had become acquainted before their visit to Kate's father's lab ended with them falling into the clutches of an anti-gravity machine--somehow they activate it, and travel back in time. In 1763, Gideon Seymour, cutpurse and gentlemen, watches with amazement as the two children and the strange machine appear out of nowhere. Someone else sees it as well--a villainous figure nicknamed the Tar Man. And before Katy and Peter realize what has happened to them, the Tar Man has made off with the device--taking with him their only way home.

Fortunately, Gideon comes to the aid of the young travellers. With his help, Kate and Peter might be able to find the machine again...but first they must survive being plunged into the 18th century, with all its smells, strange foods, and, most alarmingly, its ruthless highwaymen...Kate and Peter slowly overcome their culture shock, although they long to return home. But Gideon has his own problems, seemingly insurmountable. He is on the run from his own demons--and the ruthless Tar Man is after him, determined to bring him back into the past he wants to leave behind.

On the road to London, and their confrontion with the Tar Man, Kate and Peter fade back and forth between past and present, giving Katy's father the information he needs to save them...if he can get to them before it's too late. But first, there's the small matter of meeting King George....

Excellent time traveling here. The author makes clear the overwhelming different-ness of the past (bringing in all five senses very nicely) without drowning the narrative in Lots of Detail. She offers a generous dollop of social history, without the book becoming at all didactic. And most importantly, her time travel strikes just the right balance with regard to plot. The timeslip is essential to the story of both the modern and the 18th century characters, but is only one part of that story. And it's not just some isolated and unexplained phenomena; its tensions--the push and pull of past and present-- are felt throughout the book. Those ongoing tensions, both emotional and practical, are what make the best timeslip stories outstanding (and this is one of my favorites of the sixty odd or so I've reviewed here). Although, that being said, I never formed a deep emotional connection to any of the characters. But you can't have everything...

Highly recommended to all who enjoy timeslip stories, and/or historical fiction, but especially to readers with a fondness for the villainous romantic highwaymen of the 18th century. I am now very curious indeed to see what will befall Kate, Peter, Gideon, and the Tar Man....


  1. I really liked this one when I read it, although I haven't read the sequels. It's interesting that they re-named the book when the second one came out. Did you know it was originally called "Gideon the Cut-Purse"? I don't think that title worked well for the publisher because no one knew what a cut-purse was! I thought the author did a really good job of showing how different living in the 18th century was from today.

  2. I completely agree with your review of this one. A very enjoyable read with a nice balance of detail. I read it way back when it was called "Gideon the Cut-Purse"--because I guess I'm the sort of person who sees a book in the library and thinks, "hmm, cut-purse! Must be interesting." :D

  3. I didn't know that about the title--it's clear the author is awfully fond of Gideon, but I think the re-titling was a good move, cut-pursing aside--it's the kids who are front and center.

  4. So glad you reviewed this one (I think I've told you that before!) I've seen it several times at the bookstore and wondered if it might be a good one. Glad to hear it is!

  5. It makes me happy when you say that, Jill! thanks!


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