Title: A Coin for the Ferryman
Author: Megan Edwards
Genre: Science Fiction, Historical Fiction
Published: March 1st, 2022 (Imbrifex Books)
Synopsis: The story can now be told.
In 1999, an elite interdisciplinary team headed by Nobel laureate Andrew Danicek gathered in California to carry out a ground-breaking time-travel experiment. While the rest of the world remained unaware, Julius Caesar was successfully transported from the last day of his life to a specially-constructed covert facility. Four days of conversation with historians and Latin scholars were planned, followed by Caesar’s return to the moment from which he was extracted. But despite the team’s meticulous efforts to maintain secrecy and plan for all possible exigencies, a kidnap attempt plunges Caesar into peril. Fully aware that the future of civilization may hang in the balance, one team member must summon strength she didn’t know she possessed to return Caesar to the Ides of March.
The shocking details of Caesar’s visit and its effect on subsequent events have been protected by draconian nondisclosure agreements…until now.
Thank you to the publisher, Imbrifex Books, and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Nobel Laureate Andrew Danicek gathers a group of elite researchers and scholars to work on a top secret project at the IDES lab in California – a time travel experiment to bring Julius Caesar from moments before his assassination into the present for four days. They plan to use this time to learn as much as they can from him, but despite the tight security and detailed planning, someone has learned the details of the goings on at the lab and attempts to kidnap Caesar. It falls into the hands of Cassandra Fleury, the youngest of the team, chosen for her ability to speak fluent Latin, to keep Caesar safe from their pursuers and bring him to the lab in time so that he can be returned back to the Ides of March. Missing their deadline to send him back could have grave consequences for the future of the world.
I can never say no to a time travel book, and when you add in Ancient Rome and Julius Caesar on top of that, well I requested this book before I even fully read the synopsis. This take on time travel was a really interesting one, not least because it was reverse time travel which I’ve never read before. It starts off in a setting that is academic with all the elements of a tense and groundbreaking research project in progress, and then pivots into thriller territory that kept me turning the pages. It’s a combination I haven’t come across before, but it definitely works in this case. It doesn’t delve into the science part of it all a whole lot, which I would have loved to know more about, but chooses instead to focus on the background of each of the IDES team, showing the reader glimpses of their lives and their mindset going into the crucial final stage of the project. However, the fact that the whole experiment involved them bringing someone into the present from the moment of their death instead of them travelling through time posed some fascinating ethical dilemmas involved in the process, something that Caesar’s final moments with the team makes the reader consider.
The IDES team is a diverse group of characters, and the story takes time developing each of their arcs to some extent. Most of the story is narrated from Cassandra’s POV so hers was the easiest to understand and follow. Julius Caesar’s perspective too was an interesting one, and useful too, because his initial interactions with the team weren’t anything earth-shattering, and getting inside his head gave a better idea his character. I was also surprised at the way the author chose to portray Caesar for the most part, showing a more human and flawed side to him rather than how history perceives him, but it was a smart choice, I think as it made the story that much more realistic. While I’m a huge fan of detailed character development, I don’t think this book needed quite so many POVs. Some of them barely had two chapters and there was nothing particularly momentous in them that could not have been conveyed through a different character’s POV.
The beginning of the book, close to 40% actually, was painfully slow. The only reason I kept reading was because I could see it was heading somewhere good, but I don’t think quite so much time needed to be spent on introducing characters and setting the stage. One thing that didn’t make much sense to me was that this 20-something undergraduate student was more of an expert in Latin than the two professors with PhDs and decades of experience on the team. I also thought that the ending was too rushed – apt, but it would have been nice to see it through Cassandra’s eyes like most of the rest of the book instead switching the POVs of other characters, that too set several years in the future. The tension level was really high during the last chapter and the tone of the concluding pages was just so different that it fell flat.
Overall, this was a fun time travel adventure, and a unique one, though it does take a little patience to get through it. This was a very enjoyable read and I would recommend this for any history fan.
A Coin for the Ferryman releases on March 1st, 2022.
Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!