I feel like I’ve waited forever for the lovely, talented Irina Shapiro to grace my Audible App with the next installment of Echoes from the Past. This addictive series steeped in history, mystery, and enough drama to keep anyone on their toes has easily become one of my persona favorites. Today, we’ll discuss The Unseen, book five in the epic saga that is Quinn’s life.
Genre: Historical Fiction with Time Travel
- Story Rating: 6/6 Glass Slippers
- Narration Rating: 6/6 Glass Slippers
In 2014 Quinn is settling into a routine, trying to juggle her work as an archeologist, being a mother two two children, one of whom is a newborn, being a wife, having a social life, and still using the past to investigate murders from long ago. When she’s brought to a London flat, she finds it frozen in the Edwardian ages, but that’s not the strangest part. There’s a skeleton in a clawfoot tub, hidden behind a secret door. Now Quinn is left to use her special talents to find out who the person was, how they died, and who killed them.
In 1917 aristocratic young lady Valentina narrowly escaped Russia with her life, as being well-born was a death sentence in the Revolution. She makes it to London with her mother and younger siblings without the wealth and prestige she once enjoyed. When a relative named Dmitry offers his help, Valentina’s family accepts without considering the secret cost. Who was once to be their savior soon becomes Valentina’s worst nightmare as the family fights for survival in a new land.
Armed with a Fabergè egg necklace, Quinn dives into the past to solve the mystery of the body left to rot in a London flat for a hundred years. But that’s not the one on her mind. The whereabouts of her long lost twin still haunt her and she’s left to wonder who she will find first, the killer or her sister.
I really identified with Quinn in this book as she tried to find a balance in life with a new baby. It’s nice to see a normal character who doesn’t immediately fall into the role of picture perfect mom who has it all without a care. She puts in the work, as all parents do, and it was lovely to see her overcome different challenges. Although most challenges she’s faced so far like a plot to murder her, the reveal of her birth family, and the fact she can see through time are some many people will ever go through.
Valentina’s story was an interesting one. When we think about the Russian Revolution, we usually think about the lost princess Anastasia and the rest of the Romanov family or the wild death of Rasputin. We don’t see much about the aristocrats that managed to hop trains, flee their homes on horseback, or buy their way to a different land, dressed as a peasant. Her struggle to grieve the loss of her former life and her father and fiancé while trying to keep her remaining family afloat was something I can assume many faced when in a supposed safe place. From page one, I worried what would happen to poor Valentina.
Shapiro did a fantastic job weaving in Russian history and facts into a thrilling drama of betrayal and loss. I suppose that shouldn’t be surprising since Shapiro herself was born in Moscow. Still, many authors forgo historical facts to focus more on just the story. She does neither, perfectly pairing the past and present to create a book that doesn’t sacrifice a thing.
I don’t think there will ever be enough praise for this series, which is perfect for lovers of women’s fiction, historical fiction, mysteries, time travel, romance, or just plain good books.