Shadow of Time by Jen Minkman
All Hannah needs is a nice and quiet vacation after her first year of teaching French at a high school. She joins her brother Ben for the summer in their mom’s log cabin in Arizona. There, she meets Josh again, Ben’s childhood friend from the Navajo reservation. The little boy from the rez has grown up fast, and Hannah can’t help but feeling more for him than just friendship.
But fate apparently has something else in store for her. And it’s not peace and quiet. Night after night, Hannah is plagued by strange nightmares about the past of Navajo Nation and terrifying shadows chasing her. They seem to come closer – and why is Josh always present in her dreams?
Sometimes, the past has a way of catching up with you.
Paisley Reader Review
Shadow of Time opens as Hannah is on her way to her mom’s log cabin in Arizona to meet her brother, Ben. So close, but in desperate need of gas, she pulls into the station and sees a very attractive Navajo male. Instead of being cool and collected, she can barely utter hello when he says hi, that’s how taken aback she is by his presence (in a good way). When he reappears that night, Hannah realizes that he is her brother’s best friend Josh, all grown up. As she tries to deal with the shift in her feelings toward him, she begins to have dreams and nightmares of an older him from another time. When creepy men and coyotes begin to appear in both her dreams and waking hours in sets of threes, could Josh be the key to finding out why? What ensues is a unique story about relationships, finding and accepting oneself, and conquering one’s fears.
Character-wise, Josh, Hannah, and Ben were all wonderful in their own way. You can see the warmth between the two or three, depending on the scene, and Hannah’s loss of coherent speech when she gets nervous around Josh is cute. It’s totally true to life too, because I’ve so been there. I like that this did not feature character relationships in the traditional way. For example, Hannah is about 5 1/2 years older than Josh, but you really won’t notice it (my telling you why I didn’t is kind of a spoiler so I won’t). Also, the presence of romance is there, but it’s light. Things happen, but they aren’t explicit.
The secondary characters in Shadow of Time were great too. My favorites were Emily and Nick. Emily is Hannah’s close friend and I enjoyed seeing their banter and teasing. Nick was a fun unexpected addition, but his thirst for learning and enthusiasm for his dissertation topic was boyishly charming. I truly enjoyed every character, and the group together just meshed so well. You would think the whole group had been friends for years (yes, some have been) rather than just coming together for the summer. Sometimes that happens. It feels genuine.
Setting is also important in this story because the plot is both tied to place in the present and in the past. Minkman does a great job describing the landscape down to the traditional houses used by the Navajo. The description walks that fine line between too much description and just enough that you can easily fill in the rest with your imagination. Minkman definitely does the latter. She also weaves history through the plot. Chapters of Navajo/Dine history from Spanish contact to the present are covered in interesting ways. Aspects of Dine/Navajo culture are also included from the traditional dwelling to language, some traditions, and spiritual beliefs.
I love how it all tied together at the end. Explanations appeared that I did not see coming, but they fit just oh so well. Had they not been there I think Shadow of Time would have lacked the je ne sais quois that these explanations provide. I may not have known what the story was missing, but I would have known it was missing something. Overall, Shadow of Time was an enjoyable read with well-developed characters, a setting one usually doesn’t see, and an original plot. The plot moved at a good pace and is a great afternoon to evening read. I read it in two sittings, broken only because I had to go to bed and then to work. I look forward to reading more from the author.
About the Author
Jen Minkman (1978) was born in Holland, in the town of Alphen aan den Rijn. When she was 19, she moved between The Hague, Salzburg (Austria), Brussels (Belgium) and Cambridge (UK) to complete her studies in intercultural communication. She is currently a teacher of English and Dutch at a secondary school in The Hague, Holland. She tries to read at least 100 books a year (and write a few, too!).
**I received a copy of Shadow of Time from the author through Candace’s Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.**