2023 Reading Challenge

2023 Reading Challenge
Jill Elizabeth has read 5 books toward her goal of 265 books.

Book Review: Million Eyes by C.R. Berry

Last year, I raved and raved about this exciting new time travel world that was first presented to me via Million Eyes: Extra Time, a collection of short stories. Anyone who knows me knows I’m normally NOT a fan of shorts – but this collection wowed me from the opening salvo and my interest in the forthcoming books in the trilogy was more than peaked as a result. Well, the first book is now available and I’m pleased to report that it was a delight to read and offered a marvelous set-up to events to come.

The first in the series, Million Eyes, is a wild ride that whip-cracks back and forth through time, following a mysterious book that heralds a truly horrifying event that has the English monarchy in an uproar nearly from the very birth of the nation. There is time travel, history, alt-history, conspiracy theory, corporate greed, and a host of characters that range from the hapless to the harried to the horrible. It’s a helluva ride – incredible yet all too believable at the same time. Time travel as a concept is one of my favorites; the possibilities for paradox, predestination, free will and quantum mechanics never cease to amaze me and offer so many fabulous story-telling options. Add in the ability to cover real AND possible history, and you’ve nearly always got me at hello. Put those tools into the hands of a talented writer, and magic usually follows.

I must admit that I found the pacing of much of the book to be slower than I anticipated, based on the short story collection I’d read previously. There are a lot of events presented, here and now and then, and they’re action-packed, don’t get me wrong, but yet somehow I still felt a slight distance from them. I really enjoyed the way Berry took on history’s mysteries and gave them resolution through the time travel – it definitely led to some of the most intriguing bits of the story for me to see, for example, where the Princes in the Tower *really* went – but even those bits read a little slower and more methodically than I anticipated. It worked, given what I have gleaned of Berry’s writing style so far, but surprised me nevertheless.

Ditto the characterization – there are a slew of people presented, in all timelines presented, who play a significant role in the events of the novel and I never really developed a connection to the vast majority of them. (Two notable exceptions – the excellent characterization of Princess Diana, who jumped off the page for me, which is strange since I have never before felt so drawn to her, and the horrifically corporate-evil queen Erica Morgan who felt like a perfect amalgamation of every corporate CEO I’ve ever known combined with every Disney villain-queen I’ve ever encountered.) I was VERY surprised by this, since the exceptional characterization and connection I felt to the disparate members of the various tales, was such a significant feature of the short stories for me – a feature that made the book so resonant for me because it was such a departure from how my experience of short stories usually goes. The primary reason I usually don’t enjoy shorts is the lack of connection to the characters that is derived from the short-form limitations on character development. Berry did an AMAZING job of this in Extra Time, writing a series of tales that seemed unconnected until the entire collection had been read, at which point all of the overlaps became apparent and the whole thing became so much more than the sum of its parts.

In Million Eyes the novel, I never quite hit that point – but as it’s the first book in the trilogy, I’m not worried about that (yet) based on my experience with the slow-building connectivity that was so masterfully handled with the short stories. The connections are coming – of that I’m certain – and when they do I have a feeling they’re going to knock my socks off. The only question is how long it’ll take to get there – and how long I’ll have to wait for the next two books to find out!

Many thanks to the publisher and the author for my obligation-free copy of this book. And here’s hoping the next installment comes out sooner rather than later. And in the meantime, while you’re waiting, check out Berry’s website AND the Million Eyes site. You’ll definitely learn a few things… And make sure to check back Wednesday, for a guest post from the author, C.R. Berry, about conspiracies and writing!

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