It was the launch of Pair Alleles, book 4 in this Derivatives of Displacement series by Jennifer Ellis, on 19 September, that prompted me to catch up with book 3. You can read my reviews of A Pair of Docks and A Quill Ladder first, if you like, but if this review piques your interest you should definitely go and start at the beginning of the series – they are all linked, more of a serial than a series.
A Grave Tree
by Jennifer Ellis
To know, to will, to dare, to keep silent…
Abbey’s parents are still missing, possibly trapped in a parallel universe, and the adults around her won’t give her any answers. So when she and Caleb once again travel to a possible future—one in which Coventry City is very much not as it should be—it’s up to them, and their neighbour Mark, to try to find her parents and set things right.
But it won’t be that easy. Abbey and Caleb become separated, the stones themselves seem to be breaking down, Mark encounters odd ghosts and his half-sister Sandy beneath the Granton Dam, Ian and Sylvain continue to lead them astray, and a powerful witch named Quinta is reshaping the futures to mysterious ends.
To save the future—or at least get everyone home—science-minded Abbey may have to perform magic. And to do so, she will have to believe…
If you’ve read my previous reviews, you’ll know this is a seriously mind-bending, twisting and turning story involving hard science and the possibilities that future science might bring upon us. Apart from that it has some seriously geeky kids, a young man (Mark) with Asperger’s syndrome, and various people from the past or future in various shades of bad. Thankfully I can keep up with who’s who from Mark’s nicknames for them.
In this book Jennifer Ellis continues to explore the power of the mind – especially Abbey’s mind, and she’s a 6th grader taking 10th grade subjects, or something along those lines – utilising the physical attributes of the time travel system discovered in A Pair of Docks. The shift to a future world, which does not seem to be in line with the one they thought they would be visiting, causes all manner of new theories to assault Abbey’s mind, and she, her twin brother Caleb, and Mark, all end up in serious trouble in the bowels of a dam. That’s just half of it. There are some seriously hair-raising adventures in this episode, whether climbing down slippery mountainsides, rafting along whitewater rivers, or keeping your distance from a panther that’s stalking you in the woods. It’s fast-paced, with great tension, a confusing array of baddies – or are they, thanks to partial messages that Abbey has received in the past – and a mind-blowing description of particle physics.
And it all makes sense.
That’s the greatest strength of Ms Ellis’s creation – it could be so much gobbledygook, mashed together to make a fantastic story of no consequence. What Ms Ellis does is turn the fantastic into the maybe, the what-if, the ‘what could our futures be’, and ‘could it really be this easy to change it all – for the worse’?
If you haven’t started this series yet, do.
And if you have – don’t leave too long between episodes. Pair Alleles is next on my list!
Summary (or at least, an immediate reaction)
Book 3 continues the series – or should it really be a serial? Yes, episodes end, but there is always more to sort out. It worked better for me than book 2 (these are really complex plots with multiple streams and many people involved in multiple futures) and a 10-16 year old brain will cope much better than mine. I have, however, discovered that if I concentrate on Mark, I can keep up with everyone involved. Mark has Asperger’s, so what does that say about me?
Now out – Book 4: Pair Alleles
What could go wrong when you use a wormhole to travel to a different universe? Abbey has many hypotheses, but nobody wants to use the scientific method to find out.
So Abbey, Caleb, Simon, and Mark plunge blindly through the wormhole in search of their parents…
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