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Please Leave A Message At The Tone

A review of The Messenger's Handbook by Pamela DuMond, a book that offers the can't-lose combo of time travel and romance.

Please Leave A Message At The Tone

BOOK REPORT for The Messenger's Handbook by Pamela DuMond

Cover Story: Show Off!
BFF Charm: Eventually
Swoonworthy Scale: 5
Talky Talk: A Chicago Teen In King George's Colony
Bonus Factor: Time Travel
Relationship Status: I Won't Turn Down A Second Date

Cover Story: Show Off!

Pretty, isn't it? It looks a lot like a middle grade fantasy a la Angie Sage's Septimus Heap books, but that's not a bad thing. The colors are bright, the typeface is interesting, it has something to do with the book, and there's nary a lame stock photo in sight. Too bad it's an ebook and there's no opportunity to show it off!

The Deal:

16-year-old Madeleine Blackford is terrified of just about everything, especially heights. Of course, since her mother disappeared after a death-defying car accident that left tiny Madeleine dangling from her booster seat from the top level of a parking garage, that's understandable. So it's also understandable that she's going to be a little freaked out when, days after receiving her mother's mysterious scrapbook for her birthday, she falls from an el platform and wakes up in 1675, in the bloody aftermath of a colonial massacre. Madeleine is a Messenger -- she has the ability to time travel and the duty to carry sacred Messages -- although she doesn't know it until it's almost too late.

BFF Charm: Eventually

It took a little while for me to warm up to Madeleine. It was hard to watch her have dozens of panic attacks and sit back and take bullying abuse from a gross teacher and bitchy kids in her class. Even harder was watching her goof around in 1675 without making the slightest effort to blend in. It was so self absorbed and irritating -- I got it when she thought she was dreaming, but once she realized what was going on, I REEEEEALLY was dying that she kept stubbornly acting like a 21st century teenageer. However, teenagers are often rebellious, and often simply out of contrariness. Anyway, as the book went on and Madeleine started to learn more about her gift and her past, she got a lot more likeable, and by the end, I was getting a bicep workout from all the fistpumps. 

Swoonworthy Scale: 5

Madeleine meets Samuel in 1675 -- a half-Wampanoag, half-colonial orphan boy being raised by Angeni, the local wise woman. Samuel is a Healer, another mystical character, and Madeleine's soul mate. According to Angeni, souls can be immortal, can reincarnate, or can disappear forever; true soulmates follow each other from life to life. It's a way to explain instalove, I guess, but I need to fall for the love interest in order to really up the swoon scale, and I just didn't get to know Samuel well enough. He was physically pretty hot, though. Preeeeety smokin' hot.

Talky Talk: A Chicago Teen In King George's Colony

The first-person narrative means there's a lot of chafing at the bit of the 17th century world. Madeleine has no clue about colonial Rhode Island, so as she discovers what's going on in then-current events -- King Phillip's War is the big one, and means Madeleine and her colonial buddies are all locked up in a military garrison and no one trusts Samuel. Madeleine also has no clue how to talk like a colonial girl, so she's always using slang -- and stuff we don't even think of as slang, like "stuff" -- and sneaking off to the barn to do yoga. Totally existed at the time, just not in North America. DuMond has a chance to really explore some feminist issues by casting a modern girl into the past, and she does a little bit, although the book falls into a few of the pits of self publishing. There were a few plot points that could have been teased out, and I would have liked more character development, but overall it was a runaway train of a book -- definitely in a good way.

Bonus Factor: Time Travel

Time travel! There is almost nothing I love more than time travel books, especially (embarrassingly) time travel with romance. And Madeleine! I totally would have KILLED IT in 1675, pretending to be a colonial girl. KILLED IT. You and me need to have some study sessions, girl, because I LOVE that time period.

Casting Call:

Shailene Woodley as Madeleine

Shailene Woodley would make a great Madeleine -- slightly nerdy, shy and timid, and well-versed in modern teenspeak. Woodley would probably never get the hang of talking like a colonial girl if she were kicked back to 1675, either.

Relationship Status: I Won't Turn Down A Second Date

This book and I totally hit it off and had a lot of fun together. I'm not ready to declare true love, or even true lust, but I did let it walk me to my door and kiss me goodnight. I'm leaving Friday night free in case it calls for a second date, and I'm dying to hear the rest of the story it started telling me right at the end of the night.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my review copy from the author.  I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!).The Messenger's Handbook is available now.

Meghan Miller's photo About the Author: Meghan is an erstwhile librarian in exile from Texas and writer for Forever Young Adult. She loves books, cooking and homey things like knitting and vintage cocktails. Although she’s around books all the time, she doesn’t get to read as much as she’d like.