Gwen’s life has been a rollercoaster since she discovered she was the Ruby, the final member of the secret time-traveling Circle of Twelve. In between searching through history for the other time-travelers and asking for a bit of their blood (gross!), she’s been trying to figure out what all the mysteries and prophecies surrounding the Circle really mean.
At least Gwen has plenty of help. Her best friend Lesley follows every lead diligently on the Internet. James the ghost teaches Gwen how to fit in at an eighteenth century party. And Xemerius, the gargoyle demon who has been following Gwen since he caught her kissing Gideon in a church, offers advice on everything. Oh, yes. And of course there is Gideon, the Diamond. One minute he’s very warm indeed; the next he’s freezing cold. Gwen’s not sure what’s going on there, but she’s pretty much destined to find out.
Let’s start with something nice. This cover is beautiful, isn’t it? I think I like is more than the first one. Okay, so there’s the nice. But right off the bat, I want to say I wish Gwen wasn’t so silly. I wish she read books, even though every YA heroine loves books and it’s become this stupid trope. She just seems a lot weaker because of it, and she annoyed me a lot, at least at the beginning. However, it’s not really fair of anyone to expect Gwen to know an entire line of kings or how to fence, so I took it easier on her than I otherwise would have (thought I sort of despise her, she really is kind of stupid). Gideon continues to be an unconscionable jerk who deserves none of the attention he gets from Gwenyth (which is the whole book, start to finish, Gideon, Gideon, Gideon). The prologue was extremely intriguing this time though, more so because we know Lucy and Paul at the beginning of this novel, and I was just dying to know what the deal was with the Count. Gwenyth is starting to learn things that freak her out, implicating her in a betrayal of the Guardians. She meets her grandfather in the 1940s while elapsing, and they team up to try and figure out why Lucy and Paul stole the cronograph. Gideon’s theory is that the couple stole the chronograph for their own ends, which is why they emerged during G&G’s supposedly random visit to Lady Tilney. For the blood of the Diamond and the Ruby. I doubted this explanation from the beginning, as Gwenyth’s mom was pretty sure Lucy and Paul were afraid of what would happen if the circle was closed and the secret was revealed. I’m with Gwen here, all the cryptic verbal tiptoeing about the circle and the secret was incredibly frustrating, not to mention Gideon’s constant insistence that Gwenyth need not know anything important. Glenda and Charlotte continue to be absolutely awful human beings as well. It’s kind of amazing to me that no one seemed to acknowledge the likelihood of revenge on the parts of Glenda and Charlotte. They very obviously dislike Gwen and her mother and make very blunt criticisms of them both, which seem to go unchallenged by everyone. I was starting to think either Glenda or Charlotte were working with Lucy and Paul in the past, just to spite Gwenyth and Grace.
The best part of this novel, and Gwen’s saving grace for the definitions of words she doesn’t know and the like, is the demon-possessed gargoyle named Xemerius. He’s super annoying and never shuts up, but Gwenyth was somewhat useless without him, and he is a good foil. There’s a lot of focus on how perfect and beautiful Gideon is in this one, but the plot doesn’t seem to suffer, even if we don’t really learn anything new. I treated the romance as something to be tolerated and it was fine. Gideon is a bit of a jerk, but I’ve dated arrogant men before and so can see the draw. Whatever. The focus at the opening of the second third of the novel is the mysterious Count. Gwen’s mom is still not saying everything, and she’s still terrified of the Count, but we get to see some nice family bonding moments with the Shepherds and Great-Aunt Maddy. Xemerius has a lot to say about the tendency toward the supernatural in Gwen’s family, and it’s pretty interesting, hearing things from a perspective outside our protag’s head. Things really start moving along in the second half of the book, even though the plot seems to be stuck in the background. It’s like something is happening, but Gwenyth doesn’t know what it is, so we don’t know either. A little frustrating, as mentioned above. The snippets from the Annals are starting to make sense though, so that was appreciated and something I enjoyed as well. We also eventually learn the secret of Gwen’s magic, the “magic of the raven,” but really, you should already know what it is. It’s been obvious from the beginning, in my opinion. There were a few instances where I felt we were supposed to be surprised, but really I’d known all along what would happen, which is unfortunate, because Gwen really is embarking on an adventure we’ve never seen before.
Which makes it that much more unfortunate that she chooses to moan about how Gideon doesn’t love her for innumerable paragraphs. It’s only been a week, Gwen. Give the man a chance, huh? Luckily Lesley is there to tell her she’s being dramatic and to steer the conversation back to the important stuff, like, you know, time travel. Gideon acts like a creepy jerk in the second half of the novel, so really, it should be easy for her. His motives are questionable, and he’ll even go so far as to sabotage one of the circle to prove Gwenyth is the traitor. He’s very tiresome in this one. Near the end, all we hear about is how Gideon is beautiful, Gideon is so talented, Gideon has every reason to treat Gwen like crap because he’s beautiful and the mission is important and nothing is more important that the mission. Ugh. Shut up, Gwen.
So I liked this one, but definitely not as much as the first. Ashley was kind enough to grab me an ARC of Emerald Green at ALA, so you’ll be seeing that review here sometime in October!