Book Review: Into the Dim

Into the Dim
Published By: HMH Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: March 1, 2016
Page Count: 432
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via NetGalley
Audience: Young Adult - Historical Fantasy 

I should start this review with full disclosure. I was most attracted to this novel because it was blurbed by Diana Gabaldon and marketing materials claimed it was Outlander for teens. Once I moved past this, I found myself intrigued by the book summary and decided to give this a go when I received an ARC. I should probably go ahead and further disclose that aside from some scenes in Scotland, a hot guy, and time travel, the Outlander comparision never solidified for me.

Into the Dim begins when our heroine, Hope Walton, is reeling from the unexpected death of her mother. She's been left with her father who can't quite comprehend his wife is gone, but finds comfort in the arms of the local librarian. To make matters worse, Hope's feeling of being a fish out of water in her small southern town is only made worse by her grandmother's condescending attitude about Hope being adopted. I wanted to reach into the novel and throttle the grandmother; she is horrible to poor Hope. To cope with her loss, her father decides to send Hope to Scotland for the summer to visit with her reclusive aunt who is the last link Hope has to her mother. Hope is less than thrilled, but her alternative is spending the summer with dear old grandma, so she boards a plane to cross the pond.

She arrives to find that her mother's family home is sprawling estate in the Scottish highlands. I loved that Hope felt a bit like she was at Hogwarts while waking up inside the manor. While Hope had moments of immaturity and naivety, I loved that we shared a bond over a boy with a lightning bolt scar. Hope soon learns that things are not always what they seem and that her mother isn't actually dead at all, but trapped in the past. Hope will have to learn the secrets of time travel to find and save her mother - along with the help of her new friends Collum and Phoebe.

In addition to the time travel, there is a romance. It's squeaky clean aside from a few innuendos here and there, but nothing beyond the PG realm. I won't speak too much about the romance as it would be a spoiler, but I loved the pairing. 

On another note, there are a few harsh scenes involving attempted rape that might be too much for younger readers.

One of my favorite aspects were the settings in this one. I loved the time in modern day Scotland, but also enjoyed getting to see twelfth century London through Hope's eyes and activities. I don't think it's a time period I would want to live in, but it's an intriguing one to learn about nonetheless.

The historical components of the novel felt authentic and detailed, but I wanted a bit more. Hope interacts with a variety of real historical figures, but it seemed like she was lurking on the edges of history rather than truly embracing it. This could be because she was trying so hard not to interfere with the tapestry of the past which could drastically alter the future. I kept rooting for her to spend more time with Queen Eleanor.

My biggest complaint is the super slow beginning. It took time to warm up to Hope and the build up to the time travel seemed to take forever. Real life intruded while I was reading this one and I just kept putting it down to focus on other things. By the time I got to the middle though I was well and truly hooked. This one might take some time to get into, but it is well worth the effort if you're a history buff or are looking for an intriguing time travel read. I'll be looking forward to the next installment.

One Last Gripe: Aside from the slow beginning, I was also a little frustrated that some of the major plot points were fairly predictable.

Favorite Thing About This Book: Hope's brain and problem solving skills

First Sentence: Everyone in town knew the coffin was empty.

Favorite Character: Phoebe

Least Favorite Character: Celia

When fragile, sixteen-year-old Hope Walton loses her mom to an earthquake overseas, her secluded world crumbles. Agreeing to spend the summer in Scotland, Hope discovers that her mother was more than a brilliant academic, but also a member of a secret society of time travelers. Trapped in the twelfth century in the age of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Hope has seventy-two hours to rescue her mother and get back to their own time. Along the way, her path collides with that of a mysterious boy who could be vital to her mission . . . or the key to Hope’s undoing.      

Addictive, romantic, and rich with historical detail, Into the Dim is an Outlander for teens. 


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