The Queen Must Die (Chronicles of the Tempus, Book 1), by K.A.S. Quinn, for Timeslip Tuesday

Some time travel books are most enjoyable for the fun of the time travel, others are best enjoyed as historical fiction.  The Queen Must Die (Chronicles of the Tempus, Book 1), by K.A.S. Quinn (Atlantic Books, 2010, upper middle grade), falls into the later category--it's one I'd recommend more to people who enjoy reading about Queen Victoria and her children than to people who enjoy clever time travel.

It's the story of a modern girl, Katie Berger-Jones-Burg (lots of step-fathers) who one day finds herself transported back to Queen Victoria's palace while reading the letters of her daughter, Princess Alice.  Alice is remarkably unfazed by having a time travelling New Yorker show up, and welcomes the diversion, and the friendship that grows between them.  Katie is plenty fazed, but it's not the time travel as such that concerns her, but the fact that she's been seeing visions, and the fact that there are sinister plots afoot in the past...Princess Alice and her family are in serious danger from anarchists who have infiltrated the palace.   And even more alarming, 19th century London has been infiltrated by sinister supernatural agents who might well want to kill Katie, and the two other time travelling children who have also made their way their, to serve their own purposes.....

It all got kind of complicated, the sort of complicated that happens when the main characters themselves have no clue, and the big revel, when it came, didn't quite make everything clear to me, and seemed to be sort of shoehorned onto the story.  And why wasn't more made of the two other time traveling kids who were basically shadows we never met?  It also felt that the author had to stretch a bit too much to make her emotional conclusion to the story tidy (Katie realizes that her neglectful mother loves her at the end, despite having no more evidence of this than she ever did....)

But I did enjoy Princess Alice and her family, and Katie and Alice, and Jamie, the son of the palace physician, becoming friends and trying to work things out and foil the anarchists' plots; even though their goings on stretched credulity quite often, I found them believable as individuals.  It was also fun seeing Prince Albert caught up in the building of the Crystal Palace, and as a result of google searching inspired by the book I now know a lot more about what happened to Victoria's children, which I guess is good viz me being an educated person....Alice, for instance, was the mother of Alexandra, Tzar Nicholas II's wife, and it was rather sad to know that her own life was not going to be all that happy....

It wasn't a book I loved, but I didn't mind reading it despite my confusion......and in as much as it felt like a book in which ground was being laid for the sequel, and in as much as I liked Alice lots, I will probably seek out book 2.....And like I said, it is one I'd recommend to those seeking fictional visits with Victoria et al.

Here's a longer, and rather more actively favorable, review from the Guardian.


  1. And I love the names Alice and Katie! So it sounds like a fun read for me!

  2. Haven't heard of that one yet, but you make it sound so nice. Maybe it's worth a look, I'll definitely add this one to my Goodreads.

    Jen @ The Bookavid


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