5-stars for ‘Then,’ by Carol Marrs Phipps and Tom Phipps
Combing genres in a story, though common today, is challenging with many writers failing at the very premise.
Carol Marrs Phipps and Tom Phipps, in their Timewalker series, have again delivered a fascinating and fun story that carefully mixes pure fantasy with futuristic dystopian science fiction – something few writers would even attempt.
If you enjoyed ‘Wham,’ the first book in this series, you’ll certainly find enjoyment in ‘Then,’ book two. With the same cast of characters and similar themes, the authors have sketched yet another enchanting tale that will take you on a delightful fantasy journey.
The concept of ‘Timewalking,’ is nicely handled with the progression of simultaneous stories, Tess, the main character from Wham in the Fairy past, and Nia, her sister, in the distant future, still the captive companion of the manipulative and divisive Potentate, Pandora.
The story moves quickly, which demonstrates, in my opinion, intentional respect for the reader, and there is enough character development to generate engagement and plenty of sentimentality to create empathy – the most important feature in all storytelling.
In addition, the goals of the main characters (No spoilers here) are established early, as are the obstacles. For me, someone who gauges a book on: Level of engagement, pace of the read, clearly established goals and obstacles for the hero or heroine, level of conflict and whether I felt empathy for the characters, I found Then by Carol Marrs Phipps and Tom Phipps to be a thoroughly satisfying read.
What I liked most:
The Hero’s journey:
Though cliché, I’m someone who needs a clear through-line, and a well-developed hero or heroine on a clearly defined journey to remain engaged.
Tess’ voyage is established early, as is Nia’s, and one can easily empathize with their plight when viewing the formidable obstacles they must face.
This is an ensemble piece with three, often four, different, intertwined storylines moving simultaneously. I like the complexity of this design and applaud authors who can pull it off without confusing the reader.
I had no difficulty following the varying paths laid out by the Phipps team.
For this type of story, world-building is an essential component. I’ve often felt the measure of the world-building to be as follows: Would the story be interesting if you subtracted the main characters?
Would the JK Rowling books be intriguing without Harry Potter? Would George Lucas’ Star Wars be interesting without Luke Skywalker? And my answer would be a strong resounding yes to both.
Similarly, both the fantasy and futuristic worlds painted by the authors of Wham and Then have been done so with creativity and precision.
Take Nia and Tess out of this story and you would still have a wonderfully imaginative, captivating world.
I have one, and nothing that would lessen my 5-Star rating or a high recommendation.
The authors included many characters in this piece. This can challenge the reader. I did, at times, find myself reading back to reacquaint myself with a specific character and their significance to the story.
Faster readers, and readers who aren’t typically reading two or three books and an assortment of screenplays simultaneously, while writing would probably not experience this difficulty.
Summary and Recommendation:
Then, Timewalker Book 2, is a creative Fantasy / Adventure with heart, realistic dialogue and a nice dose of sentimentality that is well-written and engaging.
I give Then, the second instalment in the Timewalker series by Carol Marrs Phipps and Tom Phipps, 5-Stars and my highest recommendation.
Review by TE Mark – Writer / Screenwriter