Book Review: The Psychology of Time Travel

Author: Kate Mascarenhas
Publication Date: 
1 August 2018
Harper Collins
Courtesy of the Publisher

The Psychology of Time Travel is the debut novel of Kate Mascarenahas and it was definitely something a little different, I thought it was quite a unique story and I really enjoyed it. It is going to be interesting to try and review so I’m going to sit here and do it before I pick up another book.

I haven’t read widely of time travel, I think my main references would be Back to the Future and the time turner sequences in Harry Potter; neither of which are anything like this. So I say that I found this very original and unique but that’s just in my experience.

Four female scientists successfully invent a time travel machine, pioneers opening up whole new worlds. Until a public breakdown puts it all at risk.

The timeline for this one is understandably quite fluid. The chronology is extremely jumpy but I think it has to be in this tale of time travel, at least it matches the life chronology of the characters.

I love the premise here. It is 1967 and four female scientists are about to change the shape of the future as we know it. The entire novel is very female oriented, there are male characters but they are well and truly outnumbered.

I think the part of this whole concept I had the most issue with is my preconceived ideas about what happens if you meet yourself in a different time; a paradox is created if two versions of you exist in the same moment of time. Mascarenhas has imagined this completely differently, to simplify (greatly) it’s like a whole new version of you is created with every trip through time. I’m not sure I can quite get my head around the way that it works even now that I’ve finished. Quantum physics is totally not my thing so I didn’t really try to understand the how and I didn’t find myself trying to suspend disbelief as such because I don’t know how time travel should work. I found myself trying to concentrate more on the characters and the mysteries than the actual travel.

Mascarenhas has built an intricate world where the introduction of time travel has affected the very basics of human interaction and emotion for those who travel. Time travel is all centralised to the Conclave in England and an entire society grows there. The nature of time travel is such that the Conclave ends up more like an embassy, with it’s own judicial system amongst other things.

The end of the book has a glossary of time travel terms and all of the psych tests time travellers need to complete. It was good to get the extra understanding, but it meant I had less book than I expected.

A very mysterious murder takes place in 2018 and we spend the book jumping back and forth in time to try and unravel the mystery, not only of how the murder was carried out but also who was murdered. The cast of characters expands as we move further out from the four pioneers.

The character cast is quite diverse with a range of races and orientations. Time travel has changed the way travellers view many things and morality has been affected across the board, and the questions that arose actually made sense to me. Mascarenhas has explored relationships quite intimately from perspectives that we can’t fathom but still relate to situations we face, balance of power in a relationship can be quite one sided even without considering that one party can travel through time and know exactly what is going to happen.

The Psychology of Time Travel was fascinating on so many levels, it wasn’t just the idea of time travel that made it so. The relationships, the effect that travelling had on the psyche and the whole murder mystery had me captivated. This is a complete story that wraps up quite well, loose ends are tied and most of our questions are answered but there is still so much scope for this world to be built upon and I would be interested in seeing what other stories Masceranhas could bring us.

This is a convincing debut that captured my interest and has certainly put Masceranhas on my radar for future releases. It is intriguing and I think would appeal to a range of readers, it offers something very different for lovers of a good mystery.

Kate Mascarenhas can be found on her Website and Twitter.

The Psychology of Time Travel is available through Harper Collins, Angus and Robertson, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

Thanks to Harper Collins 20 of our lucky Beauty and Lace Club Members are also reading The Psychology of Time Travel and you can read what they thought here: BOOK CLUB: The Psychology of Time Travel

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