The Chronologist by Ian R. MacLeod

The Chronologist by Ian R. MacLeod
Publisher: Tor Books
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

A boy, desperate to escape the drudgery of life in his small town, gets caught up in the machinations of a traveling time keeper, and slowly watches his town and his life unravel by the seams.

When time is slippery, every moment counts.

It was fascinating to imagine a world where time itself is unreliable. Imagine opening a soft-boiled egg to find a living chick inside or seeing a wheel of cheese turn back into milk because of fluctuations in how time flows in your community! These were just two of the unusual side effects the characters experienced, and they filled my mind with theories about how people learned to survive in such an unstable environment.

I would have liked to see more time spent on world building, especially when it was related to exactly what magical powers a chronologist does and doesn’t have. There were moments in this tale when I was confused by how the townspeople reacted to the arrival of a chronologist and why they seemed to be able to do things in certain towns that didn’t happen in other ones. Having clarity on these issues would have encouraged me to go for a much higher rating.

As soon as I met the unnamed main character, I liked him. He was a curious, mischievous, and intelligent boy who was determined to solve the mystery of where the chronologist went when he left town and what it would be like to visit other communities like the one he was growing up in. There were so many practical and magical obstacles in his path that I couldn’t imagine how he’d reach his goal, but I sure wanted to see him succeed!

The Chronologist was a wild ride.

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