River of Time #2
By: Lisa T. Bergren
Paperback, 399 pages
Publish Date: June 1, 2011
WHAT THE BACK COVER SAYS: Mom touched my underdress - a gown made six hundred years before - and her eyes widened as she rubbed the raw silk between thumb and forefinger. She turned and touched Lia's gown. "Where did you get these clothes?"
Gabi knows she's left her heart in the fourteenth century and she persuades Lia to help her return, even though they know doing so will risk their very lives. When they arrive, weeks have passed and all of Siena longs to celebrate the heroines who turned the tide in the battle against Florence - while the Florentines will go to great lengths to see them dead.
But Marcello patiently awaits, and Gabi must decide if she's willing to leave her family behind for good in order to give her heart to him forever.
*Spoilers are present below if you haven't read Waterfall or Cascade*
My Review: The amount of research and time that must've gone into writing this series is incomprehensible. Every little detail has been carefully planned and everything fits like a perfect little puzzle. It's easy to picture yourself right there in medieval Italy along with Gabi and Lia. From the clothing, the lingo, the events taking place; it's all very concise and Bergren's writing style never falters.
When I picked up Waterfall, the first in the series, I didn't know that the series technically falls into "Young Adult Christian Fiction". While I have absolutely nothing against Christian fiction, it's just not my thang. Luckily the series so far isn't preachy in the least, and the comments that are typically made are more along the lines of Gabi praying for something to happen, or not happen, or to keep someone safe. It's almost things that people would say in everyday life - it's just that Gabi says it with more conviction. It's easy to skim over these parts and take them at face value without reading into them too much if it's not your typical genre either. Plus, it's easy to accept it because religion was such a strong devotion for people in medieval Italy as opposed to modern day.
One thing that is conflicting for me is that there is a religious presence but the fighting and wars are so barbaric. A scene early on finds Gabi given the option to sentence Lord Paratore to either death or bargaining with him, sending him into exile in order to get Sienese prisoners released from Firenze prisons. Gabi spares his life, but opts to have his ears cut off instead. Throughout the book you see Gabi making many decisions to take lives, Lia as well and even their mother - who joins them in the past this time around. While it is an accepted fact that this was the way of life in the fourteenth century it's difficult for me to read about Gabi savagely sword fighting the enemy while Lia picks off enemy soldiers with her bow and arrow and then two sentences later Gabi's praying for Marcello and Luca to be safe.
The narrative is in the first person, which sometimes I have issues with when it comes to connecting with characters. This book had it's ups and downs. Most of the time I can feel the love between Gabi and Marcello; Gabi and her sister, Lia, and mother; and her overall strength and courage. There are many times where Gabi is wishy-washy (for lack of better terms) about staying in fourteenth century Italy with Marcello "her man"; or returning to her "old life" in the present. There are scenes where the conflict between a fourteenth century Italian knight and a twenty-first century teenage girl are well known. When Gabi tells Marcello how in 2011 guys and girls sometimes don't marry but have babies, or even get divorced; these events are unfathomable to Marcello. These scenes are both endearing yet also put in your mind, how could these two make it work?!
While in Siena this time, the Black Plague is beginning to sweep through Italy. When the Firenze release the captive Sienese prisoners; they release the ill, sick, and diseased prisoners. While helping Signora Gianninni, a Sienese woman, tend to her vineyards while her husband is held captive, Signore Gianninni returns home as he is one of the released prisoners. After hugs and kisses and handshakes, Gabi notices the first symptoms and signs of the plague upon Signore Gianninni. Immediately she forces everyone away and explains that they need to be quarantined. This is what takes them from Castello Forelli, leaving it open and vulnerable to the impending overthrow planned by the Firenze and Lord Paratore.
Another story line is the miraculous recovery of Fortino Forelli; who has regained his health thanks to Gabi's knowledge of twenty-first century medicinal practices. Fortino is now betrothed to Lady Romana Rossi, who was Marcello's intended . . . until he met Gabi that is. Foreshadowing tells us that Gabi doesn't trust Lady Rossi, and her feelings are correct - the Rossi's are betraying the Forelli's and are working with the Firenze to overthrow them.
And then there's the topic of bringing Gabi and Lia's father back. If they can just go back in time to before he died then they can save him and bring him back to the past with them and he'll have never died. I don't know how I feel about this, or how it'll end. So until I finish the third and final book - I'll leave this alone.
I've left out a lot because I've given away quite a bit, but want to leave a lot hidden still in case you are interested in reading the series and haven't yet.
Overall I think this was a very good read. It's got history, romance, time-travel, and decent heroines in the strength and courage departments. The writing style is good, there's tons of nonstop action, and I can't say that I ever had any bored moments or lulls. It's very fast paced and keeps you wanting to read just one more chapter when you'd planned to stop reading half an hour ago.