A musician-turned-time-traveler is in for more than he bargains for during his World War I experiences in book two of Elizabeth Crowens’s The Time Traveler Professor, Book Two: A Pocketful of Lodestones.
John Patrick Scott volunteers for the Royal Scot Army. His life drastically shifts from one of comfort in Germany to misery in no-man’s-land trenches in Belgium and France. Fortunately, he has in his possession his grandfather’s heirloom timepiece (his time-travel device), his journal, and the mysterious red book, which is the essential item that connected him to Arthur Conan Doyle in the first place. Now separated from the famed author, John uses his middle-of-the-night sentry duty to delve into the metaphysical and psychic world, while Arthur does his time-traveling in hopes of finding the red book.
Because of John’s prophetic abilities, he is known by his fellow soldiers as a fortune teller and Le Conteur (storyteller); the latter due to the red book’s magic of creating impending tales (often horrific) veiled in allegory. Strange things occur when John begins seeing soldier ghosts, and the name Aliskiya Lleullne, his future self, pops up in various situations, especially among an enigmatic man who goes by the moniker of Benedyct Boniface. A battlefield accident produces more supernatural weirdness for John. After recuperating, he takes on a military-intelligence position in London, where he and Arthur reunite. The two reignite their time-traveling passion, intending to go back to feudal Japan. Instead, they are in for a big surprise when they end up in London’s Elizabethan era.
Award-winning author, Elizabeth Crowens, opens A Pocketful of Lodestones with an author’s note, explicitly encouraging steampunk readers to read Silent Meridian, book one of the Time Traveler Professor Trilogy, before probing into book two. While Crowens sprinkles aspects of Silent Meridian’s plot, the references are too light and do not offer an in-depth understanding. Thus, her cautionary note warrants merit.
That said, there is a lot more going on in this novel compared to the first book. Having first-hand experience with the horrors of war, John’s arrogance all but disappears. He spends more time meditating on humanity—focusing on the plight of his military comrades—and less on himself, except unresolved issues from his past and future time travels. John also discovers that his penchant for predicting the future and storytelling acts as a healing balm for his struggling troop.
A Pocketful of Lodestones is a meal of a read, which will surely satisfy Sherlock Holmes and history aficionados.
Author, Elizabeth Crowens won 1st Place for her novel in the CIBA 2017 Paranormal Awards.