Trick of Time is a great novella that probably could have done with a better release date. Not that the book isn’t wonderful in so many ways, but because of the length, to me it feels like a light summer read while on vacation. That’s just how I tend to like my books though. Longer ones in the winter when you have to spend more time inside, and shorter ones in the summer that are simply there just for the pleasure. That’s not to say I don’t do detailed work in the summer, I just would like to be able to read that way.
Anyway, I first picked up Trick of Time because of the delightful play of words in the title. Because it’s a time travel historical with a rent boy and the time traveling itself is rather like its own entity, complete with a rather morbid sense of humor. Automatically, the story gets points just for the clever title.
As to the plot, well, it’s a novella, so there really isn’t much to it, but what does exist is incredibly well-written. Ted recently lost his parents and partner in an accident that also left him with incredibly bad headaches. While he doesn’t actually need a job, he wants something to do with his time, so his friend offers him a position at the theater. One night, Ted steps outside for a cigarette mid-production only to discover that he’s stepped into Victorian London, where he meets Jem, a charming little street worker. Some more time-jumping, and Jem and Ted start a cute little relationship in spite of Jem’s profession. Unfortunately, Ted isn’t exactly sure how the time travel works, and there’s always the change he will either get stuck permanently in Jem’s time or he might return to find Jem is no longer there.
The payoff scene takes up a large portion of the novella, so if you’re reading this just because you like m/m romance (which, you probably are, let’s all just admit it now), you won’t be disappointed.
Perhaps the greatest thing about the story, however, was the dialogue. If you read writer’s guides, they’re always telling you to make sure that your characters sound different from each other when they talk. Admittedly, that’s not always the easiest thing to do in the world, especially when you start getting a cast of thousands. Not to mention there are some authors out there who believe that by simply changing a character’s name, you’re changing the character. This is not the case with Merrow’s book, where Jem and Ted have very distinct voices. If there was an entire page of nothing but dialogue, you would not be confused as to who was talking when. It’s a superb mastery of craft that was quite refreshing to read.
Trick of Time would have to be rated as a bubble bath, a nice way to relax at the end of the day.