A Tale of Time City


by Diana Wynne Jones

Published 1987

I really, really enjoyed this Jones novel (definitely more than A Sudden, Wild Magicwhich is the last title of hers I had read).  This book had lots of time travel, which is always fun when done well.  I got a serious Doctor Who vibe off of this book, that definite sense of time being “wibbly wobbly.”  In this story, Vivian is being sent out to the country to avoid the London bombings of WWII.  She’s kidnapped by a young man at the train station – kidnapped right out of time.  She and her kidnappers end up bonding together to try and save time, which is falling apart.

As with so many of Jones’s books, the fun is in the details almost more than the story itself – little snippets of this new and different world.  I loved the idea of time being circular especially.

Overall, I’ve often been disappointed in the endings to Jones’s stories – I feel like they frequently have a fantastic build-up, but then sort of fizzle out at the end.  However, A Tale of Time City felt like a real ending, one with actual conclusions, and I really appreciated that.  I’ve also noticed a tendency of Jones to have the majority of her adults be selfish and cruel, using the children involved for their own ends.  Refreshingly, A Tale of Time City‘s adults mostly made the mistake of not paying close enough attention to what the children were saying – overall, I actually really liked all of the adults involved in the story, which was a really nice change of pace.

This book was an easy 4/5.  It falls short of the full 5 stars because there still felt like some glossed-over wrap-ups at the end, but I can definitely recommend this fun and lively story of time-travel and friendship.