So far, I’ve reviewed 73 time travel tales on this blog. Middle grade novel Sent: The Missing: Book 2, by Margaret Peterson Haddix, (2009, 308 pages) offers something fresh. Namely, the most richly imagined description of ghosts I’ve ever read.
Summary from Goodreads:
Jonah and Chip have barely adjusted to the discovery that they are actually the missing children of history when a time purist named JB sends them, along with Katherine and Alex, hurtling back in time to 1483. JB promises that if they can fix history, they can all return to their present-day lives. Now Chip and Alex have to reclaim their true identities—as the king and prince of England. But things get complicated when the four discover that according to the records, the princes were murdered. How can they fix history if it means that Chip and Alex will die? Margaret Peterson Haddix is the author of Found, the bestselling Shadow Children series, Uprising, Running Out of Time, and many more.
Sent is the second in the Missing Series of five books with brilliant punchy titles: Found (’09), Sent (’10), Sabotaged (’11), Torn (’12), and Caught (’13). I never read Found. I was confused at times by the plot of Sent, but I don’t think it was from lack of background information. This seems to be a series into which you can jump at any point.
I loved all the historical details in Sent, and 1483 England is not even a setting that intrigues me. I can’t be sure, but judging from the fascinating descriptions in the book, and the Author’s Note, it appears Haddix well researched the time period. Love it when a time travel story writer takes the time to do that. I feel like I learned a little history. Yay. The plot climaxes in a battle scene that the author brings to life in full color. Although this book is one in a series of six, I didn’t feel that the author scrimped on the richness of the story as I have felt when reading some other books from a series.
Brother/sister pair Jonah and Katherine are the main characters in this book, with Chip and Alex playing smaller roles. Jonah and Katherine are believable, likeable and funny. I laughed out loud several times, especially at Jonah and Katherine’s attempts to talk in the proper dialect of the time, and their attempt to impersonate angels when someone mistakes them for heavenly beings.
So, turning to the ghosts. Alex and Chip were originally snatched out of time. 1483 was their stomping ground. So when the four go back to the past they see Alex and Chip as they used to be, at about the same age as the modern Alex and Chip. The four time travelers interact with the people of 1493, interfering with the”natural” course of events. Whenever they cause the old Alex and Chip to depart from what they would naturally do, the 1483 Alex and Chip appear as ghostly translucent “tracers” although they can be right beside or even merged with the modern Alex and Chip. The tracer effect even applies when a character from this period says something different than he would otherwise say. His lips get all “tracer-like”. Okay, it’s kind of hard to explain. But I’ve never seen characters get so up close and personal with (sort of) ghosts, and it wasn’t creepy at all. It seemed to make sense.
I would definitely read another one from this series, and can recommend Sent to all without reservation.