BOOK REVIEW: The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas

A fascinating novel with lots of pace and tension. Part murder mystery, part sci-fi, where you half expect Doctor Who to turn up on the next page!

1967: Four women invent time travel, changing the world forever.

2017: Bee, one of the pioneers, receives a strange newspaper cutting detailing an elderly lady’s death. In 9 months’ time.

2018: A student discovers a body in a locked room; it can only have been murder.

In a world where time is a commodity and the future is known, can anyone really make a difference?

Where to start with this book! It’s utterly fabulous and fascinating, with a gripping murder mystery at its heart and timelines crisscrossing throughout. I hardly knew whether I was coming or going half the time, unsure of where in the sequence I was reading, which led to a dizzy headiness that perfectly captured the time-travelling world Mascarenhas has created.

One of the best things about this book is that is all about the women (hurrah!). The timelines you follow are all of different women, putting them in the past, present and future leading the charge in scientific progression. And the best thing is, it doesn’t feel forced in any way because they are the driving forces in the plot(s). You don’t even notice that there’s barely any page-time for male characters, which is refreshing and wonderful to see in a time when it is still considered a ‘statement’ to put a female character at the forefront. Perspectives are written in first person adding immediacy and pace to the viewpoints as you dip in and out of their lives at different points in history, seeing the changes they undergo as time passes by. You also encounter ‘Green’ and ‘Silver selves’ (past and future selves) of various characters, almost providing a completely new character, as if they were all separate people, rather than a single person at different points in their timeline. Mascarenhas also does away with certain paradoxes, creating a world where multiple selves can meet and pass on knowledge. Like I said; it’s a dizzy and awesome concept.

I am also a big fan of time-travel as a plot device, probably because it adds so much scope for imagination within a recognisable world. It also adds a level of difficulty that, if not properly thought out, can lead to a confusing mess of a plot, so I always feel like authors have achieved something wonderful when they pull it off! Mascarenhas certainly does so, and wields her time-travel science with an expert hand, drawing you into a whirlpool that still makes perfect sense. Grounding her exploration from a psychology perspective is also incredibly novel and I was captivated by the idea of pre-destiny that she employs within those time travellers’ psyches. Crossing this idea within a murder mystery is also incredibly absorbing as you begin to see the problems with investigating such a thing when the future is known – can you stop it? Should you?

If you enjoy timey-wimey plots and a dash of science fiction you’ll find this novel gripping, stimulating and utterly entertaining. If you don’t enjoy that genre, I think you’ll still adore the remarkable world Mascarenhas has created!

The Psychology of Time Travel is published by Head of Zeus and is available here.

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Kate Mascarenhas

Kate Mascarenhas is a part-Irish, part-Seychellois midlander. Since 2017, Kate has been a chartered psychologist. Before that she worked as a copywriter, a dolls’ house maker, and a bookbinder. She lives with her husband in a small terraced house which she is slowly filling with Sindy dolls. This is her first novel.

Reviewed by Amber Mears Brown

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