Into the Dim

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Into the Dim Book Poster Image
Girl visits 12th-century England in clever time-travel tale.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Into the Dim provides a detailed picture of its primary setting, 12th-century England during the rule of Eleanor of Aquitaine. The mechanics of time travel are more mystical than scientific.

Positive Messages

Fears can be overcome. Family members shouldn't keep secrets from each other.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Although she suffers from claustrophobia and panic attacks, Hope finds ways to conquer her fears when the lives of her friends and loved ones are at stake. She's actually more brave and resourceful than she allows herself to believe, and her eidetic memory proves to be a benefit more than once.

Violence

The few scenes of violence are mostly underplayed in terms of bloody details. Hope saves Rachel from a sexual assault. Phoebe stabs a villain in the throat. Hope's pregnant mother is flogged. A main character kills someone in a climactic encounter.

Sex

Hope is almost instantly smitten with Bran Cameron, and the two of them flirt throughout the book. They share a passionate embrace, but their physical relationship does not progress very far.

Language

"Hell" and "damn" are used more than a dozen times each. "F--k" is employed two or three times. "Bastard," "Christ," and "bitch" are used once or twice. The weather is observed to be "cold as a nun's tit."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

To avoid contracting cholera, Hope and her underage friends drink wine or cider while visiting the Middle Ages.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Into the Dim is the first volume of a two-book fantasy saga, a kind of young-adult version of Outlander. England in the 12th century is depicted with vivid detail. Violence -- sword fights, a battle on the edge of an abyss, the flogging of a pregnant woman, and the threat of sexual assault -- plays a part in the story but rarely in graphic detail. Strong language includes perhaps a dozen uses of "hell" and "damn" and a few instances each of "tit," "f--k," and "bastard." Sexual content is limited to flirting and one passionate embrace. Teens drink wine rather than risk contracting cholera.

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What's the story?

Already full of fears and insecurities but possessing an eidetic memory (vivid recall, especially of images), 16-year-old Hope Walton is devastated when her mother is presumed dead in an earthquake. Her father sends her against her will to the Scottish Highlands, where she learns that her mother is actually still alive, though missing somewhere in England during the 12th century. Hope's aunt reveals that her family is part of a secret society of time travelers and that they must rescue Hope's mother before a rival gang of travelers takes control of the time lines forever.

Is it any good?

It can be hard for a new writer to find a fresh twist on the venerable theme of time travel, but this fantasy novel succeeds in going off the beaten path. INTO THE DIM benefits from a distinctive main character who is far from a cookie-cutter heroine. Debut novelist Janet B. Taylor keeps the action moving briskly in a carefully crafted historical setting, and she provides plenty of turns and twists in the plot.

Sometimes the dialogue sounds a little overwrought, but any purplish prose is generally in the service of raising the level of suspense and giving the villains something to chew on. Into the Dim reaches a satisfying finish, and many readers will be left looking forward to the saga's next volume.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about time travel. Why is it such a popular aspect of science fiction and fantasy in a variety of media?

  • What role does violence play in Into the Dim? Have attitudes about violence changed since the 12th century?

  • What does Into the Dim have to say about anti-Semitism and prejudice in general?

Book details

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