Genres: History, Romance, Time Travel,
Publisher: Chicken House
Release Date: 01/05/2014
Book Depository ¦ Amazon UK/US ¦ Goodreads
UK Readers: Check if this book is on RISI
Rose's granddad takes
her on a trip to Ypres, Belgium to visit the graves of those who died in
the Great War. It's the day before Valentine's Day, but Rose can sense
the shattered old city beneath the chocolate-box new. And it seems that
it can sense her too. When she goes up to her room that night, she hears
the sound of marching feet and glimpses from her window a young soldier
on his way to the front line...
I think we've all had
ancestors that we've lost in the wars, and Valentine Joe really made me
sit back of think of them. I have a great, great uncle who came back
from the second war but later died, we didn't even know of him until I
researched my family history. And I likely had family in the first
too.As the poem says, 'We will remember them.'
There are many characters in Valentine Joe, but the most memorable are easily Rose, Joe and the little dog that follows them around everywhere. I really felt for Rose, who has recently lost her father. As for Joe, I loved him as soon as I met him, he's a cheeky guy and a bit of a flirt, but very determined and brave, something that I knew would break my heart later. It was even sadder to know that he was a real person, killed in action at the age of just 15.
The concept of time travel is used very well. It's a short book so I was grateful to the author for not making me wade through pages of explanations about how it worked, and just let it happen. The effect of Rose leaving the modern day behind and finding herself in a town in the grip of the First World War was wonderfully executed and very creepy too, I was very worried that she would be hurt or worse. The time travel is not explained but I like to think that our furry friend had something to do with it.
Valentine Joe was such a cute, heartbreaking story that I'm sure will stick with me for a very long time. The characters and the settings were so beautifully described I really did feel as if I was there. This is a remarkable debut and I'm looking forward to seeing what the author has to offer next!