City of Time and Magic gives Paula Brackston a chance to resolve the cliffhanger from her last book in the Found Things series. And in true Brackston fashion, the resolution includes history, magic, time travel, and a little romance. Our favorite time traveler, Xanthe, meets up with a magical character, Elizabeth, from the author’s earlier Witch’s Daughter series. The crossover works like a charm!

In book three, Xanthe enlists her present century friends and family in the time travel process. She even takes her recent love interest, Liam, back in time. And things promptly go sideways—of course. This time, the book’s initial purpose is solving those cliffhanger problems. Naturally, nothing that includes magic and time travel is ever straightforward. And that makes for an absorbing, mysterious novel.

Brackston takes us to Victorian London for this story. We revel in the city and its foggy atmosphere, bustle costumes, and chamber pots dumped out windows. For me, it’s also a familiar period, since I enjoy Sherlockian stories. However, Xanthe is no Sherlock Holmes. Rather, she’s approachable and caring.

My conclusions

Xanthe starts this series as a reluctant and tentative time traveler. She doesn’t know much about the process, including how to stay safe in the process. But by book number four, Brackston gives her growing confidence and resources. And that makes for a more absorbing book this time around.

It’s hard to talk about the fourth book in the series without including spoilers related to the other books. My reviews of the first three books:

The Little Shop of Found Things
Secrets of the Chocolate House
The Garden of Promises and Lies

But what I will say is that Brackston’s writing is highly readable. She mixes just the right amount of fantasy into her historical fiction. Or perhaps it’s the other way around. And who hasn’t read history and wished to spend just a few days living in those other people’s time? In the Found Things series, Xanthe does just that.

Since Brackston reintroduced me to Elizabeth from The Witch’s Daughter, reading that book again is a tempting prospect. We shall see …

I recommend City of Time and Magic if you’re a fan of time travel novels. But definitely start with the first book in the series and work your way through. This doesn’t work as a standalone book, and the series is a fun diversion from any heavy reading.


Many thanks to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press, and the author for a digital advanced reader’s copy in exchange for this honest review. The publication date is November 23, 2021.