Wayfarer – Alexandra Bracken

ISBN – 9781460752050
Publisher – HarperCollins Australia
First Published – 2017
Pages – 544

All Etta Spencer wanted was to make her violin debut when she was thrust into a treacherous world where the struggle for power could alter history. After losing the one thing that would have allowed her to protect the Timeline, and the one person worth fighting for, Etta awakens alone in an unknown place and time, exposed to the threat of the two groups who would rather see her dead than succeed. When help arrives, it comes from the last person Etta ever expected—Julian Ironwood, the Grand Master’s heir who has long been presumed dead, and whose dangerous alliance with a man from Etta’s past could put them both at risk.

Meanwhile, Nicholas and Sophia are racing through time in order to locate Etta and the missing astrolabe with Ironwood travelers hot on their trail. They cross paths with a mercenary-for-hire, a cheeky girl named Li Min who quickly develops a flirtation with Sophia. But as the three of them attempt to evade their pursuers, Nicholas soon realizes that one of his companions may have ulterior motives.

As Etta and Nicholas fight to make their way back to one another, from Imperial Russia to the Vatican catacombs, time is rapidly shifting and changing into something unrecognizable… and might just run out on both of them.

Warning: Spoilers ahead if you haven’t read Passenger!

Wayfarer is the magnificent and beautifully layered sequel to Passenger, and the finale of her duology that takes readers on a time travelling treasure hunt woven together with threads of love, vengeance and loyalty. It’s a story I’ve anticipated the conclusion to since I first picked up Passenger and saying farewell to this series is a bittersweet feeling (and an odd one – most of the books I read lately tend to be part of much larger series, so it feels strange to be departing this rich world so soon.)

Like Passenger, I found Wayfarer went for more of a slow burn approach, leading you into the story carefully. I’ll admit, it took me a while to get back into the story and since I don’t have the best memory, there were quite a few aspects of Passenger that I didn’t remember, leaving me somewhat confused at times. This is a hefty novel at just over 500 pages, so there was very little room for recapping I’m sure, but I do feel that if you have a shonky memory like mine, you may want to read a few reviews of Passenger or perhaps even indulge in a re-read before heading into this one.
I feel the length of the novel at times was a little overwhelming, particularly as I felt there were several long stretches of description that did leave me a little out of touch with the action and adventure I expected. However, Bracken’s level of intricacy and historical detail is nothing short of stellar and she spares no detail in making you feel as if you have stepped through a passage into another time and place.

Wayfarer really lives up to its name as our beloved characters take a step away from being merely passengers in the wake of history and the events thrust at them, to navigating and forging their own destinies. Etta and Nicholas are separated by most of the book, and they both face challenges that force them into difficult decisions. However their character growth is delightful to watch and you can’t help but to ache alongside them as they choose to work towards something greater than themselves. Bracken continues to challenge societal norms, both historical and present, through her storytelling and this is a perfect undercurrent to an already complex novel.

I found Ironwood’s character to be the most perplexing as his personality changes dramatically from the formidable and cold man we first met in Passenger. I didn’t entirely understand his full 180 and would have like to explore this more. Did his obsession consume him? Why, and how? I was also fascinated by the character of Julian and was delighted that we got to see so much more of him in this novel. There are several other new character additions in Wayfarer, but I’ll leave you to discover those for yourself. Whilst this sounds odd when discussing a novel based around the premise of time travel, the story definitely takes a more ‘fantastical’ turn. We begin to see the threads over something sinister come together and the origins of the astrolabe become clear. It was definitely not where I expected this to go and I’m definitely glad for the surprise.

If you’re a fan of anything remotely historical, love a good treasure hunt or just need more Alexandra Bracken in your life, do yourself a favour and delve into Wayfarer (or Passenger, if you haven’t read that yet… and I hope you didn’t read all these spoilers!). I’m going to miss this wonderful world and it’s beautifully diverse cast.

Rating (out of 5):

But we are, all of us, also wayfarers on a greater journey, this one without end, each of us searching for the answers to the unspoken questions of our hearts. Take comfort, as I have, in knowing that, while we must travel it alone, this journey rewards goodness, and will prove that the things which are denied to us in life will never create a cage for our souls.

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