David Higgins has reviewed the first three books of the Unelmoija Series. With his permission here is his review of Unelmoija: The Timeshifter, book four.
Boca continues to mix plausible modern-day characters with a magical world that doesn’t rely on stereotypes, to create urban fantasy that is both fresh and accessible.
This novel is the fourth in the Weeia series. Spoilers ahoy!
Amy’s past is literally catching up with her: sometimes when sleeping or under great stress, she finds herself back at significant moments in her life; she has her memories of what happened to help her navigate these revisits, but Weeia legend says that if something goes wrong a time traveller can become lost forever. And when she is in her own time, her powers are erratic and her health deteriorating.
The book opens with Amy already within the first relived event; but without any indication that it is the past. While this does create a sense of confusion for the reader that might enhance their sympathy for Amy’s struggle to understand what’s happening, the lack of flags as to when this is might leave some readers feeling denied facts the narrator knows.
This sense of concealed facts occurs occasionally throughout the book. At one point Amy refers to a movie as one she liked staring one of her favourite actors rather than using the name of either the film or actor; with no reason she wouldn’t use the names, this has an air of a riddle or concealment for the sake of it. However, for the most part, the narration seems trustworthy so this is not a major issue.
Ironically, Amy’s narration is sometimes too objective. Rather than describing what people are doing and leaving it to the reader to infer intent or emotion, she often provides a statement of what a character is thinking or feeling followed by her reason for that. This, combined with filtering language such as “She saw that…”, distances the reader slightly from the action, making the story potentially less engaging for those who enjoy trying to guess the answers to mysteries.
Although the plot does have both a ticking clock from Amy’s deteriorating health and a sense of threat from antagonists in the present and past, both Amy’s attempts to maintain a past that leads to her present and the overall investigative nature of the plot give the novel a slower, less active feel than previous volumes. This is compounded by Amy reacting to time-shifting rather than gaining a new advantage in the way she has during previous books.
Fortunately, Amy remains consistent with previous books and strives to overcome her new situation, making it likely that readers who have read this far will care enough about her survival to want to find out what happens.
The supporting cast are similarly both consistent and fully involved in events, adding further interest for those who have read the previous novels.
While this book does contain a complete arc from challenge to resolution, many of the events do rely on past matters that do not feature in Amy’s time-shifts; thus, this novel is unlikely to make a good entry point for new readers.
Overall, I enjoyed this novel. I recommend it to readers who enjoyed previous volumes.
Dave Higgins, speculative fiction author
(see it and other reviews on his website at https://davidjhiggins.wordpress.com/2018/06/01/unelmoija-the-timeshifter-by-elle-boca/
Click here to buy Unelmoija: The Timeshifter (Weeia Book 4)