Time Windows, by Kathryn Reiss

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Time Windows by Kathryn Reiss, (1991, 260 pages), shown here with three different covers from over the years, is a great time travel/ghost story, with just the right amount of creepiness for a

young YA reader. I have read mainly middle grade time travel books, so the creepiness was new to me. Judging by all the zombie YA books out there, none of which I’ve read, I imagine the creepiness level of this one may actually be low by today’s standards.

From Goodreads:

When Miranda moves with her family to a new house in a small Massachusetts town, she discovers a mysterious antique— dollhouse. Through the windows, she is shocked to find what seem to be living people in the tiny rooms, and gradually she realizes that scenes from the lives of the big house’s past inhabitants are being replayed there. “With numerous deftly sketched characters, including a sympathetic boy next door, an intriguing plot, and such dividends as a secret room used to hide escaping slaves, this should keep readers interested. Well wrought and entertaining.”— Kirkus Reviews

Basically, the house is possessed. It has an evil spirit that makes the women who live there act unlike themselves in that they lash out at their children. This aspect of he book was actually scarier to me as a mom than it might have been to many teen readers. Imagine if you’d never so much as spanked your child and suddenly you found yourself slapping your child across their face… Shudder.

A pet peeve of mine is that SO MANY time travel stories begin with a move to a new (old) house, but I have to admit in this case it really worked. I shared Miranda’s excitement as her family explored their new home, and their apprehension as they began to wonder if something was “weird” about it. Miranda is no pushover, though, and she’s determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, even as her own mom turns on her.

Poking around in the woods behind our house today, my kids and I found the remains of an old refuse heap, dozens of differently-shaped glass bottles from decades ago. I was seized with a curiosity to see the people that used these everyday items. (I don’t need to go to ancient Egypt or another exotic locale if I’m given the chance to time travel!) I loved the fact that the time travel in this book was all “local”, having to do with the history of one house. The glimpses into the past that Miranda experienced when she peeked into the dollhouse were satisfying as the author used period details to make these settings come alive for the reader.

Other middle grade time travel stories with related themes include The Castle in the Attic, reviewed here, or The Sixty-Eight Rooms, reviewed here.


About Susan

I blog about middle grade and YA time travel books. I'm the author of Time Jump Coins.
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1 Response to Time Windows, by Kathryn Reiss

  1. Pingback: List: Toys Come Alive Time Travel Books |

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