The Time Tider

The Time Tider
Sinéad O’Hart
Little Tiger

Time tiding – the art of locating and capturing a warp of unspent time lies at the heart of this fantastic book.

Constantly on the move, twelve year old Mara and her father Gabriel live in a battered old van, packed with glass vials and other strange items. This is how Mara’s life has always been, though she has never understood why. Her only bedroom is a bunk, she’s never been to school, or made any friends. It’s something to do with her father’s job, although Mara doesn’t know what that really is, though he often hurries off to secret meetings. On such occasions he returns with sufficient money for half a tank of petrol or a visit to a cafe; but what he’s traded she knows not. With their travelling lifestyle, often moving by night, the two are able to avoid those her father suspects are following them.

One morning having woken to find her father out, Mara comes across Gabriel in the middle of one of his meetings: the transaction she sees and what ensues immediately, trouble her deeply. She really HAS to know what her father actually does: after all, people ‘don’t just vanish do they?’ On his return she starts to question him but he tells her very little before their van is under attack. Telling his daughter to drive, Gabriel hastily gives her some instructions and jumps out.

Finding herself abandoned with his old bag in which is a handbook containing a strange set of instructions, ‘For the Attention of the Newly Appointed Time Tider’, it’s up to Mara to attempt to do as her father said, the first thing being to find someone called Lenny, of whom she has only a very vague recollection.

Then she encounters a boy called Jan who tells her that he knows Lenny but has bad news about the man and other things. The two become friends, Jan joins the search, which grows increasingly dangerous; but it’s hard to know who can be trusted so the pair rely largely on their instincts.

As the plot twists this way and that, the author poses a number of important questions for readers to consider about power and how it can corrupt, and the lengths one would go to for somebody you love. There’s also the issue of how isolating fear and grief can be with the result that your focus is on what you’ve lost at the expense of what you still have.

With Sinéad O’Hart’s skill at world building, the story is hugely exciting and compelling. Mara is such a credible character – hugely determined and despite her self-doubt, very capable.

I’ll say no more, rather I’ll leave you to ponder : If you could extend your life or that of a loved one, no matter how the possibility arose or the consequences for others, would you do so?

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