Book Review: Nick of Time

Well, it's been a while since I've done one of these, so I figured it was high time I did one. Onward!

Nick of Time
Ted Bell
Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction (well, sort of but not really)


The setting is England, 1939, on the eve of war. Nick and his younger sister, Kate, live in a lighthouse on the smallest of the Channel Islands. Nick and Kate come to the aid of their father who is engaged in a desperate war of espionage with German U-boat wolf packs that are circling the islands. The information they provide to Winston Churchill is vital as he tries to warn England of the imminent Nazi invasion.
One day Nick discovers an old sea chest, left for him by his ancestor, Captain Nicholas McIver of the Royal Navy. Inside, he finds a time machine and a desperate plea for help from the captain. He uses the machine to return to the year 1805. Captain McIver and, indeed, Admiral Nelson’s entire fleet are threatened by the treachery of the French and the mutinous Captain Billy Blood. Nick must reach deep inside, using his wits, courage, and daring to rescue the imperiled British sailors.
His sister, Kate, meanwhile, has enlisted the aid of two of England’s most brilliant “scientific detectives,” Lord Hawke and Commander Hobbes, to thwart the invading Nazis. She and Nick must face England’s underwater enemies, a challenge made all the more difficult when they discover the existence of Germany’s supersecret submarine.
In this striking adventure for readers of all ages, Nick must fight ruthless enemies across two different centuries, on land and sea, to help defeat those determined to destroy his home and his family.

I've been hunting for a good book for a while now, since before I finally got my hands on the Kane Chronicles (yay), and I saw this one sitting on the shelf, and I thought, oh what the hey, let's give it a whirl because I'm fascinated by all things oceanic and time paradoxical. Since this book seemed to have both, I plucked it up and had at it.

The story starts out by plopping you in the middle of Nick's boat while he's busy doing things out on the water. It's a way a lot of authors use to start a story and it worked fairly well for this one. The author let you know the character's personality just by his thoughts and dialogue. Nick seems really arrogant actually, thinking that he's not supposed to be afraid because he's a tough guy, etc. He's somewhat annoying at first, but by the end of the book he's changed from what he first was.

I actually was more interested in the characters that were the antagonists, myself. Billy Blood and his evil buddy Snake Eye were really quite crafty, what with their secret weapon and all. They were a little morbid at times, what with Snake Eye slicing off bits of his tongue and eating them...but for the most part they added spice and mystique to the plot.

The author did well more towards the middle and end to grab my attention more. I felt like in the beginning it was a bit ho-hum, even though they plopped me down into the middle of a storm and whatnot. During the ending, the suspense was nicely executed and the the loose ends were neatly snipped.

There was some humor sprinkled here and there, especially the chapters that featured Nick's little sister Kate. She was really fun, especially when she thought she was in China because the ground was shaking and ended up thinking that the man in front of her was a Chinese butler. Hehe.

The summary is really inaccurate, however. The plot is slightly different from what it claims, and I did notice this. But it was a good change, I assure you.

The time machine was fascinating all by itself, and I really did like the descriptions the author did of it. The little foreign language inscriptions and the golden light...ah....

A funny thing I noticed was that even though they say that Nick is 12 years old, the cover picture and some of the illustrations that are scattered here and there show him as a much older teenager than the age he is. It's really quite amusing to me.

To sum it up, I'd say it was a pretty good book, but not exceptional. There are bits I'd have fixed, but if you need something to read, be my guest!

Star Rating: 4


  1. I've been considering these books for a while now, so I'm glad to have a review of it finally. The summary isn't enough to grab my interest, but the title keeps drawing me back. Time travel... nothing like it.
    I shall read it after August. Or September. Whenever.

    1. Aye, time travel endlessly fascinates me...


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