Don’t forget your toothbrush.
First Published: 1st August 2012
Date Reviewed: 20th March 2013
Alex was pulled back in time, and all she was doing was heading to a presentation. Landing in the countryside, the 1600s version of where she was when her car stopped, she meets Matthew. Matthew is on the run from jail and agrees to help Alex, intrigued by her looks and story. Alex has family in the 21st Century, but there’s something about Matthew, and soon, despite the hardships that await her in Stuart Scotland, she might start to wonder whether the idea of returning is the opposite of what she wants.
A Rip In The Veil is a time travel novel with a twist. Here we have a woman who has fallen back in time to land in the Scottish Commonwealth, meeting a man who is on the run, and later trying to discover what happened to her mother.
Belfrage has done a good job of using her characters and plot to detail the time periods and their differences. Where others might info-dump she has Alex tell Matthew about what will happen in his own lifetime in order to help him understand what is happening. Belfrage has created a character that knows enough of history that means she doesn’t freak out when events occur – she does worry, because anyone would in the situations – but she has the knowledge and modern methods of, for example, fighting, to last the day.
The issue is that the characters aren’t developed enough. They are stereotypical and it would be difficult to describe them well if you were asked by an interested party. Alex is a career woman, has a child she didn’t want, knows some history, and has a multi-cultural background, but beyond that there is little to say. And the case with Matthew is similar.
This would actually be okay if the plot was not full of holes – because it’s obvious that Belfrage wanted a plot-driven book and there is nothing wrong with that. But there are major issues with the plot, such as Alex, someone who is otherwise very aware of how unhygienic 1600s Scotland is (she is always wishing for a toothbrush, understandably) beginning a sexual relationship with Matthew without any mention of STDs or contraception. One can assume that Matthew may have only been with one other woman before, but the way Belfrage presents Alex leaves no room for unprotected sex. And there is a lot of sex and lust in this book. Indeed there is also the issue of Alex saying how much she loves John, back in the 21st Century, whilst she lusts after Matthew. That can happen, but in this case it does not add up.
And for all her knowledge, Alex isn’t good at accepting the differences that come with being in Matthew’s era. She rallies against some occurrences, as would any woman from a modern western society, but some of her arguments, considering the way she is otherwise, sound at best impolite. And when you’ve a career woman not finding a problem with the relative boredom of a woman’s lot in the 1600s, it doesn’t come across well. Neither does the agreement to burn and give up the possessions that have accompanied her in time travelling. But that’s the issue; Belfrage is very good 50% of the time detailing time differences in regards to characters, and completely forgetful the other 50%. She’ll constantly highlight changes, and then has Alex tell Matthew she thinks she pregnant a few weeks before she suddenly realises she’s pregnant, for example.
The writing is okay, and Belfrage is able to use both old styles of speaking and, of course, modern day slang. However there is this odd element employed where every character tends to end questions with “no?”, as though using broken English. It works for the truly foreign characters, but is out of place and distracting otherwise.
The mystery of Alex’s mother is compelling, even if the sections on the men involved are less so. The violence is extreme and repetitive but it doesn’t stop the story moving forward. But reading the book, it can be difficult not to feel like the premise and various ideas were not taken advantage of. A lot more time could have been spent on Alex’s thoughts of home, especially as she is presented as so modern, and after the initial set up has been established, the characters in the 21st century are abandoned where they could have provided a good balance and more intrigue.
A Rip In The Veil has a great premise and a lot of unique ideas, and for all the issues it is difficult not to want to keep reading. But it must be noted by the prospective reader that threads are left hanging and the unrealistic can take precedent (besides the concept of time travel). It is the start of a series, so there is the possibility that Belfrage may fill in these holes later on.
I received this book for review from the author.
March 22, 2013, 10:01 am
Shoot. I usually like books with time travel but this sounds like a not very well done copy of the Outlander books.
March 22, 2013, 1:06 pm
Don’t forget your toothbrush ;) This book doesn’t sound like one for me but that little quote of yours cracked me up! lol
March 22, 2013, 2:52 pm
I have read a couple of books recently with a similar premise to this ‘time travel with a twist’ and have really enjoyed them. The premise of this book really intrigues. I’m sorry to hear that it had a few flaws but I think I might still consider reading it.
March 22, 2013, 3:32 pm
The idea sounds good fun. If the author has done enough research it could be very interesting reading about the differences between then and now.
March 22, 2013, 5:07 pm
It is impossible not to compare with Outlander sagas, isn’t it?
I have to say it has really caught my attention for that reason and I think I can like the book since I’m not very demanding with books in English.
The questions finished with “no?” is so typical Spanish, hehee, for me it sounds good, but I know you have to say “right?” or “isn’t it”. And in your reviews I always learn new words, like “lust”, for example :P
March 23, 2013, 4:28 am
I usually stay away from time travel books unless they are really exceptional. There is something about them that annoys me and seems so implausible. This probably won’t end up on my TBR :-/
March 27, 2013, 3:13 pm
Another fabu review — as I said in my previous comment, am working on my own review and feel as you do. Lots of promise and some problems. While the plot is similar to Outlander, the books feel very different to me.
April 2, 2013, 6:28 pm
Beth: Outlander – I knew there was a book out there in this vein (I forgot Outlander). Yes, you could be right.
Jennifer: I can’t for the life of me remember where I got that quote, but I’ve heard it from somewhere!
Jessica: If you like the genre then you might enjoy this, to be honest I think going into it without expectations might help.
Judith: Yes, I’d say she has done the research, or picked a time period she already knew about. That part of the book is very strong.
Isi: I’m thinking you’re correct (I’ll have to trust you and Beth on that because I only know the basic plot of Outlander). That’s the thing – the “no?” for Spanish characters sounds alright, it sounds more realistic (from what I know, at least), but for the Scottish characters, “aye?” would be more appropriate. And the author used “aye?” but not as much. “Lust” is a useful word to know if you’re reading historical novels in English, definitely :) So much sex in history.
Anbolyn: Yes, there is so much that needs to be done right for time travel to work, so many details and complexities to them. I’m afraid in the case of this book I wouldn’t be trying to change your mind, your wanting to read exceptional ones is quite understandable.
Audra: Thanks! I need to read Outlander, but I think I can see where the differences would be – I’m guessing Outlander has a bigger focus on the history, for example.