Originally published in Germany in 2009, Ruby Red is the first in a trilogy about a rather odd family whose lineage includes several time travelers. The story centers on Gwyneth, whose cousin Charlotte is the expected final traveler in the family and has been trained almost from birth to assume the role. Unfortunately for Charlotte, Gwyneth’s mother somehow managed to keep the actual date of her birth a secret, which means that Gwyneth is in reality the true time traveler. Unprepared and nervous, Gwyneth finds herself facing harsh, demanding members of a Time Traveling Society, who expect her to be able to travel back in history alongside her fellow traveler, the handsome and arrogant Gideon. All of this seems like good fun at first: the dressing of the part, the details of the era, the excitement of meeting people from the past. Good fun, that is, until Gwyneth is attacked and someone ends up dead.
Ruby Red is well written, if at times a bit confusing with all the time-traveling jargon and the mysteries of the Time Traveling Society. Gwyneth is a typical modern teen, thrust into an unbelievable circumstance, and Gideon admittedly doesn’t make things easy on her when she replaces Charlotte as his partner. The family dynamics are odd to say the least, but Gwyneth’s ability to adjust keeps everything from being too overwhelming. This is a fast, absorbing mystery, with innocent romantic interaction, likely to appeal most to the younger end of the young adult spectrum. I can definitely recommend this fun novel for the attraction of its spunky heroine, and the methodical set-up for the unveiling of more family secrets in future books in the series.