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81 of 92 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Memorable & Engrossing Read
Attracted by the wonderful cover (which, IMHO, perfectly conveys the time and place and mystery of the story) and intrigued by the plot blurb, The Map of Time has been on my radar for some time and I'm happy to say it did not disappoint.

The Map of Time is different. It's interesting, engrossing and rather, well - odd. Even weird. It's unlike any other book...
Published on June 8, 2011 by Mary Kate

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67 of 76 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a favorite, but maybe you will like it more.
First, let me say that I did not personally like this novel very much, but that doesn't mean that every reader will feel that way. Consequently I will try to simply review what you will find if you chose to read the novel. This is one of those novels which are very hard to review because almost anything said about it has the potential to spoil the story. I will try to...
Published on June 26, 2011 by J. Lesley


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81 of 92 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Memorable & Engrossing Read, June 8, 2011
By 
Mary Kate (Wisconsin, USA) - See all my reviews
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Attracted by the wonderful cover (which, IMHO, perfectly conveys the time and place and mystery of the story) and intrigued by the plot blurb, The Map of Time has been on my radar for some time and I'm happy to say it did not disappoint.

The Map of Time is different. It's interesting, engrossing and rather, well - odd. Even weird. It's unlike any other book I've read and while I didn't close that handsome cover thinking - Dang! That was the best book in the history of ever! - I liked it. In fact, I liked it quite a lot.

Author Felix Palma has crafted an original and intricately-plotted novel set in Victorian London and peppered with appearances by some of the well-known persons of the day. Bram Stoker. Jack the Ripper. Joseph Merrick (the Elephant Man - and yes, he WAS call John Merrick in David Lynch's 1980 film). But it's Palma's use of H.G. Wells as a central character that particularly drew me to the book and that, once reading, most captivated me. Certainly Palma's depiction of Wells in these pages has made me want to learn more about the real Wells and has prompted me download some of his novels - last read during my junior high years - to my Kindle for a re-read.

While I found Wells to be the most fascinating character in the story, he is not the only one who is well-drawn. In what I feel is one of the strongest elements of The Map of Time, several of Palma's many characters are nicely fleshed out. As a specific character's depth and complexity were gradually revealed through the course of the book, my feelings toward that character continued to evolve. And that evolution drew me deeper into the story.

Wells and the paradoxes of time travel are the strongest of the common threads Palma weaves through the three parts of The Map of Time to help to tie the whole book together. In Part One, a young man struggles to deal with the murder - by Jack the Ripper - of the woman he loved. In Part Two, a woman unhappy with the strict social conventions of the Victorian age seeks something else in another time period and in Part Three, a Scotland Yard detective comes to believe that someone from the future is responsible for a series of murders.

Palma's writing is good but somewhat uneven. Passages that I found simply wonderful sat alongside those that rambled for far too long, those that were somewhat confusing and those so cluttered with minutiae that my eyes would begin to glaze over. Though "he" didn't bother me to the degree other reviewers have mentioned, the narrator was, on occasion, annoying. But once I was sucked into the story (which happened early enough on to rope me in for the duration), I could cope with the aspects of the writing that I found less than stellar.

The Map of Time has mystery, romance, sci-fi, history and murder, all set in an atmospheric Victorian London and garnished with steampunk elements. Characterizations are strong and the interesting and intricate plot has twists galore. Despite its flaws, I found The Map of Time well worth the read. I know it will stick with me. And should the sequels I've read rumors of materialize, I'll be reading them.

Recommended.

Notes:
Translation of The Map of Time to English from the original Spanish was done by Nick Caistor.
Many of H.G. Wells novels are available free of charge for Kindle download here on Amazon.
2005's The Infinite Worlds of H.G. Wells is an entertaining (and attractively priced!) 4-hour miniseries that may appeal to those who enjoy The Map of Time. Stars include Tom Ward, Katy Carmichael and Nicholas Rowe.
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67 of 76 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a favorite, but maybe you will like it more., June 26, 2011
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First, let me say that I did not personally like this novel very much, but that doesn't mean that every reader will feel that way. Consequently I will try to simply review what you will find if you chose to read the novel. This is one of those novels which are very hard to review because almost anything said about it has the potential to spoil the story. I will try to be very careful.

The novel takes place in 1888, in London, with the first section taking place primarily in the Whitechaple district. After deciding to commit suicide Andrew Harrington is given the opportunity to utilize Murray's Time Travel to go back eight years to change one specific thing which has haunted him and made him wish to end his time on this earth. Ultimately he has to seek the help of writer H. G. Wells to try to accomplish his goal.

The second portion of the novel focuses on a young woman of that time who is extremely dissatisfied with her life because of the many restrictions put on her simply because she is a woman. Her dream is to utilize Murray's Time Travel to go forward in time where she will be able to use any talents and intellect she has to make a better world. Once again love plays the predominant part in this story and it is once again up to H. G. Wells to reconcile the past with the future.

The third section puts the emphasis on Wells himself and how the time travel phenomenon has an impact on his past, present and future.

This novel is written in the style where the narrator can't keep himself from commenting to the reader on what is going on in the story. I actually don't mind that usually, but I certainly don't think I've ever read a novel before when it was utilized so often. This narrator was often found popping up to tell me that he could see everything and be everywhere at once so he would fill me in on what had just happened, either on or off the page. It really lost it's appeal quite quickly and became an irritant to me. All three of these novella type segments are intertwined, basically with the presence of H. G. Wells, but also with Murray's Time Travel and with other characters who appear throughout. This had a tendency to lead to a high degree of repetition. I don't like that much repetition in a novel. It makes me feel as if the author doesn't trust that I am intelligent enough to grasp what they are saying the first time which irritates me. A circle! And, by the way, this novel is also a circle. Did it matter where it began? Not for me. My personal favorite section was the middle because that seemed to be much more along the lines of a fully completed story.

Ultimately I decided to assign the novel a three star rating because I did enjoy the second section and it is really quite an inventive book. I just wish I could erase the mental picture in my mind of the author possibly sitting out on a sun drenched patio, drinking a glass of wine, and smiling at how gullible readers can be. Have we been gulled? I certainly felt at times that I was. To my mind, if any kudo's are deserved for this novel they should go to Nick Caistor who translated it. Whew! What a task this must have been.
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32 of 39 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This book is the first part of a trilogy? Oh, my God!, July 6, 2012
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This review is from: The Map of Time: A Novel (Mass Market Paperback)
Book report: The Map of Time, by Felix J. Palma

It's all my own fault. I couldn't resist a book with a title like "The Map of Time." Plus, the idea of [SPOILER ALERT!] H. G. Wells using his secret time machine to hunt down and defeat Jack the Ripper in Victorian London is wonderful. But, boy, does this book need pruning!

For example, even before reading this book, I was aware that Jack the Ripper was a bad guy. I don't need 84 pages about how the main character, who was in love with one of the murder victims, was affected by the crimes for me to come to the conclusion that preventing said crimes would be good. I also don't need a complete biography of H. G. Wells from the age of 8. Nor do I need a thorough plot summary of The Time Machine, which I've read several times, and seen both movies of, and whose events don't really pertain to the present story. And I really don't need an exposition on how the main character's father made his fortune by selling toilet paper.

What I do need is the actual adventure, which occupies only about 11 pages out of the first 236 pages of the book. So, what this really is is a fairly well-written and moderately clever short story that's been padded out to 236 pages. I say "236 pages," even though the book is actually 512 pages long, because that's where I stopped reading. I'm sure it gets much better on page 237.

I say "fairly well-written" because it does have some nice turns of phrase, but it's also a translation, so I don't know whether to chalk the writing up to the author or the translator. Even giving the author the benefit of the doubt, against this you have to set some weird plot holes, which you can't pin on the translator. For example, why does the main character, so distraught by the murder of his one true love, wait 8 years to kill himself? Because, dear reader, that's how long it was between the Jack the Ripper murders and the publication of Wells's The Time Machine. If he did it any sooner, there wouldn't be a plot. So, the main character does something totally contrary to human nature because it's dramatically necessary. My writer's group would never let me get away with something like this.

I say "moderately clever" because I guessed the twist by page 77, and I'm not that good at guessing twists.

I will admit that I liked the part where H. G. Wells meets Joseph Merrick, the "Elephant Man", in yet another scene that has nothing whatsoever to do with the plot.

I'm sure that I'm missing all kinds of allegorical and symbolic meaning in this book, but I'm not that clever at such things. No doubt, others will spot all kinds of fascinating items that I missed.

I just looked at the book's web site on Amazon and found that this book is the first part of a trilogy. Oh, my God!

Recommendation: stay away
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52 of 68 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Massive disappointment, June 30, 2011
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I'm a fan of sci-fi tales, particularly the time-travelling variety. Temporal paradoxes, alternate realities and the grand web of time thrill me in much the same way catnip excites my cat. When offered a chance to preview The Map of Time, I literally jumped at it. I mean, just look at that gorgeous cover!

Set in Victorian London, the story mixes together elements of science fiction, historical fiction, romance and a dash of mystery. Instead of one cohesive tale, Felix J. Palma offers three interconnected stories, each featuring H. G. Wells.

The writing is occasionally brilliant and because this has been translated into English, I won't quibble about the random clunky sentence. I will say that, at times, the author gets a bit longwinded, providing details that are superfluous to the already long and convoluted plot. Also, throughout the book, the author directly addresses the reader. Personally, I liked the technique. But I can understand why others might find it annoying as it does bring the narrative flow to a screeching halt.

I really wanted to love this quirky book. But I didn't

The story started out rather grimly with a young man contemplating suicide and, to be honest, things don't get much cheerier. There are some pretty grisly descriptions of what Jack the Ripper did to his victims.

There's also a lot of nonsense about a tram that can take people to the year 2000 and a very silly romance. About page 400 I realised that I didn't like any of the characters and didn't care in the least what happened to them. I skimmed the remaining 200 pages, but didn't see anything that made me want to resume reading.

Overall, this book was a massive disappointment. If I had a time machine, I'd go back and tell myself not to bother with it.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Stupendous Reading Experience, June 24, 2011
FIRST SENTENCE: Andrew Harrington would have gladly died several times over if that meant not having to choose just one pistol from among his father's vast collection in the living room cabinet.

The Map of Time is really a narrative consisting of three interconnected stories wrapped around the novelist H. G. Wells and the concept of time travel. Time travel is portrayed as an event where traveling back in time and changing an event appears to create a parallel world.

We have a third party narrator who sometimes engages the reader directly (for some reason, I tend to love this writing style), with cameo appearances by Joseph Merrick (aka the "Elephant Man" - I found a lovely site that chronicles his life here), Bram Stoker, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Henry James, wrapped around events and places: The Great London Fire of 1666, Jack the Ripper's reign, and 50 Berkeley Square (the most haunted house in London).

Some character sketches:

Andrew Harrington - 26 years old and still broken-hearted over the murder of the woman he loved, who would do anything to change the course of history.

Gilliam Murray - an oversized but graceful huckster who has brought time travel to the masses (those who can afford it, that is).

Herbert George Wells - 30 years old, who has recently published The Island of Dr. Moreau and is married to his second wife.

Claire Haggerty - A 21-year-old society girl, and extremely bored with her life.

Tom Blunt - son of a grave robber, whose mother died of cholera before his 6th birthday, soon followed by the drowning of his father.

To avoid spoilers, I can't really supply a synopsis, as the way the book unfolds leaves the reader wondering about this and that until the questions are answered with further reading. There is a rather Victorian feel to this novel and readers of Steampunk would like it, even though there aren't gears and steam-powered contraptions :). The translation of Palma's work seems to be spot on, and even though the novel is BIG (the ARC weighed in at 609 pages), it is so enjoyable to read that the pages seem to fly by.

I think this could be the break-out hit of the summer. Here is my caveat on that: For readers who like a straight-forward story that you don't have to think about - probably not for you. For readers who like a bit of a puzzle - definitely for you. Historical fiction, Victoriana, murder, mystery, romance - there's a bit of each element here. I thought it was superbly written, with fascinating details and a true "feel" for the characters. In short - a stupendous reading experience - I loved it.

QUOTES (from an ARC; may be different in finished copy):

(I had so many quotes down for this that it was hard for me to pick the following , but I hope they give you a feel for the novel):

He doubted whether either of them would ever decipher the true message concealed in his gesture (that he had preferred to die as he had lived - alone), but for Andrew it was enough to imagine the inevitable look of disgust on his father's face when he discovered his son had killed himself behind his back, without his permission.

Assuming you stay until the end of this tale, some of you will no doubt think that I chose the wrong thread with which to begin spinning my yarn, and that for accuracy's sake I should have respected chronological order and begun with Miss Haggerty's story. It is possible, but there are stories that cannot begin at their beginning, and perhaps this is one of them.

"Behind this door awaits the most horrific-looking creature you have probably ever seen or will ever see; it is up to you whether you consider him a monster or an unfortunate wretch."
Wells felt a little faint.

It took him almost two hours to persuade his superior to sign an arrest warrant for a man who had not yet been born.

"In that case, forgive our reticence, but you will understand that murdering three innocent people in cold blood with the sole aim of drawing our attention leads us to doubt your philanthropic intentions," retorted Wells, who was just as capable, when he wanted, of stringing together sentences as tortuous as those of James.

Writing: 5 out of 5 stars
Plot: 5 out of 5 stars
Characters: 5 out of 5 stars
Reading Immersion: 5 out 5 stars

BOOK RATING: 5 out of 5 stars
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably one of the most enjoyable books I've read in a long time., August 9, 2011
If you were to walk the streets of London at the end of the 19th century, the topic of conversation you'd most likely hear people discussing would be either the recent grizzly killings of prostitutes by the elusive Jack the Ripper, or time travel. The later is all the rage due to two things. First, is the recent publication of a book by a first-time novelist named Herbert George Wells called The Time Traveler. The second is all of the handbills currently circulating throughout the city advertising actual trips in time to visit the year 2000. They're advertisements for a company called Murray's Time Travel which claims to have created the actual machine described by H. G. Wells and have now begun taking people to visit the future.

Andrew Harrington couldn't care less about time travel. He's the son of a wealthy business owner and has just fallen in love with Marie Kelly. Unfortunately for him, the mortality rate for people in Marie's line of work has been rapidly increasing due to The Ripper. When Marie becomes the latest of Jack's victims, time travel takes on a whole new meaning to Andrew. Is it really possible now to travel backwards through time and is it possible that he could do it and save the life of the woman of his dreams?

The story that ensues is fantastic! Felix J. Palma is a Spanish author and I think this is his first book translated into English and published here in the U.S. I can't tell you how pleased I am that he was picked up by a publisher here. He has written a book that defies an adequate description. The book contains three parts, each with its own set of loosely associated characters and a storyline surrounding time travel. Andrew's and Marie's is only the first of the three. My description of the story makes it sound like this is a science fiction book, and would only be enjoyed by those who read that genre. It's definitely much more than that. To say much more would give too much away. So I'll just say that I highly recommend this book to everyone. It's a tremendously fun read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I Go With Those Who Say: Huh?, July 19, 2012
This review is from: The Map of Time: A Novel (Mass Market Paperback)
A talented writer, but one pretending to present a fantasy, so I go with those who feel a bit duped. Although the author does at last present a time travel "piece" by the end, it's too little too late, and what kind of ending is that? The ending leaves the reader thinking another "Huh?" The cleverness, the tricks (pulled on the reader) and some of the writing will have some critics drooling but if you're looking for a nice fantasy tale for some escapism reading, then this is not the book for you.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MUCH MORE THAN THE FLY-LEAF CAN DESCRIBE., July 24, 2011
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Books can be deceiving but descriptions of them even more so. I first noticed this book at small bookshop in Buffalo, NY and decided not to buy it at that time ($). For some reason though, forgetting its title, I searched the Web upon my return home, found it and purchased it. I am not sorry I did. There is much more to this work than the book cover or online reviews reveal. Not having yet finished it, I felt compelled to write this review based on a passage I just read that I will not identify here. Suffice it to say that Palma lays out a story that is evocative, riveting and entertaining in a dignified and erudite manner. I have read many books set in Victorian England. This work rivals one, The Meaning of Night by Cox,that is one of my favorites. Finally, I have found another that stands solidly up to it. Highly recommended.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Original and Imaginative, July 27, 2011
I was given a copy of this book by a friend and I am so thrilled it came into my life. It was wildly imaginative and creative! I could recommend it to readers with varying tastes. It offers historical and science fiction, magical realism, and has a remarkable gothic atmosphere. The storytelling is whimsical yet pragmatic (I know that's contradictory, but you have to read it to see what I mean) and I enjoyed the self-aware, all-knowing narrator. There are often digressions, stories within the main narrative that quite effectively add layers and depth to the book as a whole.

H.G. Wells was perfectly suitable in his role as life saver, mollify-er, and would-be time traveler. He gets himself embroiled in various plots, one of which involves Jack the Ripper. The schemes and hoaxes abound and nothing is as it really seems, and yet everything is connected. Not only does the author present this "Butterfly Effect" paradigm, but then he throws in the idea of space/time continuum. There are so many fun "Ah-Hah!" moments and others that made me want to shake my finger at Palma and say, "Ooh, boy, you really got me there." This was a wonderfully clever and thoughtful novel that will resonate with me for a long time. Bravo!
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Imagination and its "infinite capacity", June 28, 2011
The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma succeeded for me in so many levels that it will be a challenge, albeit a pleasurable one, to adequately explain how satisfying it was. Curiously, my admiration for its execution has increased the more I reflect upon it.

If you're a science fiction fan, most especially an H.G. Wells fan; if you love time travel stories; if you love Victorian novels (the way novels were written in the Victorian era and novels set in that time) - this is the book for you. The Map of Time is a dazzling, entertaining read for the summer ... or for all time.

I must caution, however, not to pay too much attention to the official synopsis. While it is not technically misleading, it only applies to a quarter of the book. If you read with the synopsis in mind, you'll read most of the novel wondering where it's going.

The Map of Time is roughly divided into three main story arcs which at first seem very loosely interwoven. Set in 1896 London, the first part of the book is about the doomed love affair between a young society gentleman, Andrew Harrington, and the beautiful prostitute Marie Kelly. On the brink of suicide over the way the affair ended, Harrington seeks the services of Gilliam Murray's Time Travel company, which claims the ability to transport those willing to pay a fortune to London in the year 2000, for a brief glimpse of the future. Of course, once we hear the description of what the world is like in the year 2000, we immediately know that the Time Travel company is a sham, but the novel detours from Harrington's tragic story to Gilliam Murray's adventurous tale in how he was able to find the hole in the fabric of time. From Murray's Time Travel Company, the desperate Harrington then ends up at the door of H.G. Wells himself, the famous author of The Time Machine, to demand that he help him travel back in time.

The second major story arc involves a surprisingly poignant romance between one of Gilliam Murray's hired hands, handsome but poor Joe Blunt, and a young society lady who falls too successfully for the Time Travel Company's sham, Claire Haggerty. If you're a fan of the movie, Somewhere in Time, like I am, you will love this part.

In addition to H.G. Wells, other figures of that era enliven the narrative, Jack the Ripper, John Merrick the Elephant Man, Bram Stoker, and Henry James.

For about two-thirds of The Map of Time, the author plays around with the idea of time travel, setting up extraordinary scenarios before drawing the curtain aside to reveal wizardry at work different from magic or science. The final, and most breathtaking, part of the novel is where all the themes of the tangential storylines merge and the uniting figure of H.G. Wells, the father of time travel fiction, takes full, center stage. And just to encourage all of you hard core science fiction fans to persevere through the seemingly picaresque parts that come before - this is where all the playing around comes to an end and we get the full time travel treatment in concentrated form - parallel universes, loopholes in the time continuum, alternative histories, as well as the truth of the titular, elusive Map of Time.

"'What would the world really look like in a hundred years' time?' he wondered...It was a pipe dream of course, but there was nothing to stop him from pretending he could do it, he told himself, settling back in his seat and ceremoniously pulling the lever down, experiencing the inevitable frisson of excitement he felt whenever he performed the gesture.

"However, to his astonishment, this time when the lever had come to halt, a sudden darkness fell on the attic. The flecks of moonlight shining through the window seemed to withdraw, leaving him in total dark. Before he was able to understand what was going on, he was overcome by a dreadful feeling of vertigo and sudden giddiness. He felt himself floating, drifting through a mysterious void that could have been the cosmos itself. And as he began to lose consciousness, all he managed to think was either he was having a heart attack or he really was traveling to the year 2000 after all."

I got my science fiction fix by the end, but The Map of Time also offered some fascinating thoughts: that love, in a sense, is an equal or greater force than the mythical ability to cross time. Love can bridge distances and transcend obstacles time travel cannot; it can change a predestined future as powerfully as going back in the past to render a different outcome in the present.

And, as The Map of Time involves several characters as writers, would be ones and real-life ones, even the power of one's imagination, its "infinite capacity," is comparable to time travel. The novel ends aptly, with H.G. Wells pondering on the miraculous experience of reading - that we, as readers are not merely spectators, but in having reading a book set in 1896, have also, in a way, journeyed through time and space ourselves.
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The Map of Time: A Novel
The Map of Time: A Novel by Félix J. Palma (Mass Market Paperback - June 26, 2012)
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