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Reviewed by Kyra Johnson
Opening sentence
Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time.
Time’s Raven is the second book in Eileen Merriman’s Eternity Loop series. After reading the first book in the series - Indigo Moon - I eagerly awaited the arrival of this book. Merriman managed to maintain the suspense from the first book with ease, while also incorporating the layer of time travel into the plot. This added another layer of complexity to the plot which further captivated the audience.

After breaking the rules of time travel, Indigo ‘Moon’ Hoffman impatiently awaits her punishment from the Black Spiral Intelligence. At her disciplinary hearing, she confesses to the extent of her time-travelling incidents. Despite all she’s done, Director-General Rudolph Underwood and the rest of the panel decide to clear Indigo of all charges. She and her best friend, Rigel Fletcher, think she is out of the woods, until the director ‘delivers the final nail in the coffin,’ and announces that Indigo has to spend a year in London rehabilitating. Meanwhile, readers gain insight into Billy Raven’s past, particularly when he was a depressed teen who fell in love with the mysteriously entrancing Aurelia Nightingale.

Three different stories - Rigel’s, Indigo’s, and Billy’s - throughout the book, but somehow all intertwined together. Rigel is determined to find his father, who went missing and was presumed dead. Also, Rigel makes a plan with Indigo to take down Billy Raven for good this time. This means that Indigo has to go back to Billy, back to the Time Vampire she thought she was in love with. The treacherous twists and turns of time spin Billy, Rigel, and Indigo through a spiral of events; they are stuck and unstuck in the Eternity Loop. Can Rigel and Indigo destroy Billy Raven, but also save mankind from the devastating effects of a new virus: Riva? When contracted, the Riva virus makes humans infertile. Billy Raven can give part of the solution, but to what repercussions?

For me, Time’s Raven was quite a step up from the first book in this series, in the sense of its overall complexity which came from the increased use of the time travel layer. To begin with, I was easily following the plot of the story, but by the time I was in the middle of the book, I have to admit I was a little lost at times. I found myself rereading certain parts so I could understand it better, which was actually rather helpful to me as I could make the connections which the author wanted. Also, I think the slight confusion increased the suspense of the story in a way which I would not previously expect. With three different but interconnected stories going at once in many different timelines, it is incredible how the author managed to maintain certain themes without revealing new plot details. In a way, Merriman’s deliberate disorientation is what kept me reading. I wanted to know how everything fitted together at the end - how were things going to pan out for the characters?

However, whenever I felt this disorientation, the author somehow managed to bring me back using a recurring theme. Merriman also favoured the use of a famous Slaughterhouse-Five quote: “Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time.” This links quite well with the Eternity Loop series because of the incorporation of time travel. I found it amusingly ironic how one of the Offspring’s rules in Merriman’s book is to never, ever mess with time. In short, there are so many different aspects of this book which are both perplexing and enticing, which altogether is how Merriman manages to sustain the allure of the story throughout.

This book is a must read for anyone who likes science fiction and time travel. I give this book 4/5 stars and recommend it for 15+ readers. For those who have read the Black Spiral trilogy, you should certainly check this series out; you will fall in love with Merriman’s characters all over again!

- Kyra Johnson lives in Greymouth
Publisher: Penguin
ISBN: 9780143778677
Format: Paperback
Publication: April 2023
Ages: 13+
Themes: Fantasy, time travel