Saturday, 1 September 2012

Review: TimeRiders: City of Shadows by Alex Scarrow

Liam O'Connor should have died at sea in 1912.

Maddy Carter should have died on a plane in 2010.

Sal Vikram should have died in a fire in 2026.

But all three have been given a second chance - to work for an agency that no one knows exists. Its purpose: to prevent time travel destroying history . . .

Hunted by cyborg assassins from the future, the TimeRiders must abandon New York and go on the run. They escape to Victorian London and the streets where Jack the Ripper roams. But, before they can establish their new base, they make their most shattering discovery yet - and it will change everything . . .

Are you a fan of Alex Scarrow's TimeRiders series? If the answer is yes and you have not yet got your hands on a copy of the sixth book in the series, City of Shadows, then you must do so immediately. And if you have not yet read any of the books in this series then go out and get the first TimeRiders books as you have one hell of an exciting ride ahead of you.

Over the course of the first five books in this series Alex Scarrow has gradually woven an incredibly intricate plot, creating a multitude of seemingly unrelated threads. This does at times make reading each new book something of a challenge when six months have passed since the publication of the previous book, as the plots are so complex that remembering everything that has gone before is not always easy. For those five books we have been very much like Scarrow's trio of teen protagonists, very much in the dark as to the real nature of their task and finding things out as the story progresses. For those of you desperate to find answers to some of the questions that have been bugging you for so long then prepare to stunned. And shocked. And amazed. City of Shadows is the game changer for the whole series.

The significance of Sal's teddy bear?
The man who gets merged with a horse in The Eternal War?
Who sent the team of assassins after the TimerRider team in Gates of Rome?
Foster's story?

By alternating the story between a variety of different periods in time, and especially the future where we meet Waldstein properly, in this book Alex Scarrow provides answers to all of these questions, although staying true to form, he then goes on and creates even more questions for his readers. In fact, just like the characters we continue to be led to believe one thing, and then suddenly discover that we may have been wrong all along. Yep, this book will seriously mess with your head.

I feel it is only fair to add a small extra comment on this book for those fans who, like me, were looking forward to a story set predominantly in Victorian London, featuring Jack the Ripper. In actual fact, less than a third of the story is set in this era, with most of the narrative being devoted to 2001, and the actions the team have to take immediately following on from the end of Gates of Rome. This books is less about rectifying contamination events in time, and much more about how the characters survive as they have to cut themselves loose from their Brooklyn base. However, I don't think you will be disappointed with the story - I certainly wasn't.

I remember when the first TimeRiders book was published, another author told me that she had wanted to call one of the books in her series Time Riders, but her publisher had asked her to choose an alternative title as they felt that books with the word 'time' or 'time travel' in the title didn't sell. I don't know why they believed this - perhaps they had market research findings that suggested, despite the popularity of Doctor Who on TV, that children and young adults did not find time travel stories particularly cool or exciting? If that was the case then Alex Scarrow has single-handedly injected both of these elements into the genre and made it a very hot property indeed.

The seventh TimeRiders book is scheduled to be published in February 2012, so not too long to wait. Alex recently revealed the title and cover on the official TimeRiders blog and I'm already looking forward to reading it.

Relocated to Victorian London, the TimeRiders joy-ride back to 1666 to witness the Great Fire of London. In the ensuing chaos, Liam and their newest recruit, Rashim, find themselves trapped between the fire and the Thames. They escape onboard a river boat, only to be confronted by an unscrupulous captain with his heart set on treasures of the high seas . . .

Back in 1888, Maddy and the rest of the team are frantically trying to track them down. But with limited resources at their new base, can Liam and Rashim survive the bloodthirsty and barbaric age of piracy long enough to be rescued?

My thanks go to the lovely people at Puffin for sending me a copy of City of Shadows.


  1. Gr8 when does it come out

  2. Alex Scarrow, you astonish me with your books.

  3. the books time riders they extremely good
    sory I m not good speak English
    I am French

  4. I love time riders
    Is very very good book

  5. time riders book 1 is very interesting because he tell relly history with imaginary

  6. why does it say this book is for boys?

  7. This is very good! I am reading this right now.
    Also I am a girl and have read to book 5 and reading book 6! I do tend to read books that are classed as boy books. It is just sexist!