“The Little Shop of Found Things” by Paula Brackston

Finally! As I mentioned in my last blog I was currently reading three books, so I finally finished one. When I read the jacket of this book, I thought, ooh, fun, a time travel book. I haven’t read many time travel books, but it sounded intriguing and I was looking to step outside my reading niche.

I was a little disappointed that it had ghosts; I’m not a fan of ghost stories, but (thankfully) that was a pretty small part of the story. I also didn’t realize that this was just one in a series of books; while I enjoyed this book, I’m not sure I liked it enough to invest more time in the series.

The rundown is this: a young woman (Xanthe) has the ability to “hear” objects, specifically she can hear objects that have a story to tell about their previous owners. She doesn’t hear words, but they sing to her or vibrate, or something like that. It is this ability that draws her to a particular piece (a chatelaine) — I had never in my life heard of a chatelaine, so of course I looked it up. It was a basically a decorative tool belt for women used during and prior to the Victorian era (I’ll post a photo below).

So anyway, this chatelaine calls to her… turns out it’s somehow connected to a ghost that threatens her if she doesn’t help her daughter… in 1605. So Xanthe takes up the ghost’s daughter’s cause (because that’s not confusing) and travels back in time. Shenanigans ensue. I won’t spoil the book any further by detailing said shenanigans, you’ll have to read it yourself to find out exactly what they are and how they play out.

I liked this book. It was generally lighthearted, somewhat of a mystery (though I didn’t find some of the resolutions totally satisfying), with just a hint of romance for good measure. The writing itself was good; although I find that to be so subjective (for example, I, very typically, love Jane Austen. However, my extraordinarily well-read friend, Katherine, cannot stand Jane Austen). So when I say a book is well written, what I mean is that the story makes sense; there aren’t a ton of overtly glaring plot holes; the grammar is fine; it’s written well regardless of how I feel about the story… wowee, I am off on some tangents today.

Back to the subject at hand… For a book that switches back and forth between modern times and 1605, I think the continuity of the storyline was pretty good. I understand the concept of time travel, but I was a little perplexed by some of the logistics of it as it plays out in this book’s universe. For example, if she (Xanthe) is able to travel through time, why is she limited to a linear progression in the 1605 timeline that she enters? Why does she always return later in the timeline rather than just return right when she left? And why is there such urgency from this dang ghost when all of this has already happened?

Anyway, I don’t think the characters are as well developed as they could be, but, since this is a series, it’s possible (hopeful??) that the author would flesh them out more in the following books.

Overall I would recommend this book for an escape from reality with some lighthearted fare. And who can’t use a little bit of an escape from the dumpster fire that is 2020, am I right?

A Victorian Lady’s Chatelaine

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