Synopsis: When Vivian is evacuated from London in 1939, she expects to be staying in the countryside. Instead, she is whisked away to Time City – a place that exists outside time and space. It is a strange and remarkable place, where technology rules – yet important events of both past and future are marked by the appearance of mysterious Time Ghosts. Here, a Time Patrol works to preserve historical events – but unknown rogue time-travellers are plotting to take control and are stealing the wards that protect the city. If they succeed, Time City and History as we know it will both be destroyed. Jonathan and Sam are convinced that Vivian can help to save their home – for, astonishingly, she appears as a Time Ghost herself in a forgotten part of the city. But how can she possibly know what to do, when the important event hasn’t even happened yet?
Book cover: There's a couple of editions I really dislike, but I think this one's quite nice, and the picture actually depicts something that happens in the novel.
As a child, A Tale of Time City was one of my very favourite novels. I'm glad to discover, therefore, that I still greatly enjoyed it reading it again as an adult.
The writing style is fun and easy to read. The plot, while a bit nonsensical (and is it fantasy or science fiction? - I can't really tell as it certainly doesn't try to explain anything much) is thoroughly entertaining, with some interesting and unexpected twists toward the end.
The characters are perhaps its weakest part, unfortunately. The children are a bit overly silly at times - treating major danger (not to mention kidnapping somebody) as just a game doesn't really endear me to Jonathan or Sam, I don't think children are really that stupid. I also think that Vivian adjusts far too quickly to being removed from her planet, time period and parents - she isn't even all that upset really... but on the other hand too much anger or misery might have harmed the fun of the novel. She is the most likeable one, too.
Despite its flaws, it's still a great story. If and when I one day have children, I'll definitely be introducing them to it - and in the meantime I'll probably reread it a few times myself.