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Book Review: Elsetime by Eve McDonnell


'It's January 1928, the day before the great flood. There's a snowstorm and the river is about to burst its banks-fourteen souls will be lost. Can Glory an orphan with only one hand and her time-travelling friend Needle and their pet crow change the future? Is there anyone among all those people entombed in the snow-shrouded town who will listen?'


Elsetime is a beautiful tale set in the 1900's which tackles sexism, ableism, abandonment and much more. Eleven year old Glory has already lost her hand and her parents to fever when she and Dee-Dee are threatened with eviction. Glory sets out to finish school and get a job to help with the rent, and eventually own a jewellery emporium, but everybody doubts her because of her wooden hand - most girls do not get jobs anyway, let alone young girls with a missing limb, but Glory is not deterred.

A year later, Glory has proven everyone wrong as she now works in a Jewellery emporium with her secret crow friend, a fascinating corvid capable of finding treasures a magpie would be envious of. Days before the Great Flood of London, a boy called Needle time-travels from 1864 into 1928 Inthington. It so happens that Needle is a mudlarker who with the help of Glory's crow friend, finds treasures in his timeline that his mother sells at market. It turns out the crow is a time traveller, and assists both Glory and Needle in warning ambivalent Londoners of their impending doom.

Inspired by the events of the real Great Flood of London, Elsetime does a fantastic job of hooking the reader in with superb characterisation. Both characters have fleshed out pasts and immense struggles which adds believability to the circumstances and makes you worry for them in perilous situations. The imagery and metaphor throughout are consistent and add to the themes, with references to needlework and weaving that tie into the interwoven timelines of Needle and Glory. This story is a fantastical time-flip extravaganza!

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