Disclaimer: ARC read via Netgalley invite.
I am one of those readers who hated the Physic Book of Deliverance Dane. I thought it was stupid and idiotic, and the heroine was a complete twit who should have taken her dog to the vet. I also hated the Kate Mosse book I read. I’m really, really, really picky about time travel romance/mystery novels. It’s shocking that I actually liked some of the Outlander series.
You should know that in all fairness to Janet Eubank.
Crossover is not a badly written novel. Look at this description, “the house was like a woman of a certain age. There were still good bones and good manners and not a hint of embarrassment at being forced, after years of independence, to go to work in the world. The job might be demeaning and badly paid. Never mind; it was honest work and could be done with dignity and even some grace. Unhappiness was a private matter to be kept strictly inside” (Location 10).
And it gets better.
Description and setting wise the book does grab the reader. Meredith arrives at an English college to start her journey to her master’s degree. She is studying something vaguely 18th century; it’s never quite clear what English literature she is interested in and writing her essays on, but she is apparently brilliant according to her tutor. She finds herself getting stuck into some kind of time replacement, role switcheroo thing where she and a look-alike from the 18th century trade places. Meredith is determined to find more about the family she finds herself time placed with, and she uncovers a mystery featuring affairs and violence.
It’s sad, though, that I found the supporting characters of Sue and Tony, Meredith’s friends, to be far more entertaining than Meredith. Sue and Tony would make a wonderful romance novel; their relationship is interesting. Sue and Tony actually seem interested in scholarship and not just their tutor’s pants. They actually seem to work. Meredith’s relationship with her tutor, on the hand, is not interesting but simply pro forma. It just happens. Meredith seems to just happen.
The mystery itself is slightly more interesting than the time travel and the romance aspects of the novel. If this had been a simple straight forward gothic style mystery drawing on Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, it would have worked. The time travel aspect allows for modern detective work, but in some ways weakens the book. This could be because all of the people who help Meredith are men. She is given a chance to work a woman tutor who actually specializes in the area of Meredith’s interest, but she rejects it to work with her original tutor. The reason given is believable, but having Meredith being aided by one woman in the story would have alleviated the feeling of Mary Sue specialness that really means Mary Sue twit.
Yep, Meredith is one of those. You know, like you see in those books I couldn’t finish.
Now, granted the novel was first published in 1984 and that means the latter works come after and Eubank’s character is more original, possibly an influence on the others.
What separates this book from its followers is the simple fact that Eubank can write atmosphere extremely well. Place and mood are wonderfully conveyed. This is true regardless of the time period. It’s why I was able to finish it. It’s why if she writes a straight gothic book, I’m there with bells on.
In short, if you like Mosse, you should like this. It’s a better book.