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Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite
Chains of Time by R.B. Woodstone is a young adult paranormal fiction and the first book in the author's series. Chains of Time is narrated in dual timelines, the first being a historical foundation that begins with Amara, a clairvoyant bride of Africa whose wedding is interrupted by the slavers she already knew would descend on her village. The second timeline forms the future of Amara's descendants, haunted by visions of the past and the ever-present slaver Hendrik Van Owen, who wields the dominion of power drained of Amara and her betrothed Kwame, transcending and bending the linear realm of age and time. As the timelines begin to converge, it is the strength of Amara and the bevy of sacrifices made that allow for the ushering in of the next generation from a hospital in Atlanta. “Yes,” she says, “my child, my baby, newborn princess of Mkembro. And what power shall you wield, little one?”
Chains of Time is indeed a paranormal fiction, but pigeon-holing it into this single genre is a disservice to both the story and author R.B. Woodstone. The beauty of Woodstone's prose evokes the intensity and allegorical journey that is usually reserved for literary fiction. The writing is simultaneously gorgeous, terrifying, and hopeful, made much more relatable in a first-person narrative. Amara and Van Owen, both tangled in a perpetual hunt for the other, are fused together in her need to protect those she loves and his desire to retain power and control. As an antagonist Van Owen is perfect as he doggedly pursues Amara, her children, her children's children, and onward, believing the power to be his by virtue of God, and Amara and her descendants to be his property. Slaves through eternity. Whether intended or not, what strikes me the most is the bondage that parallels with actual, real-life race relations. Amara and Van Owen may be fictional, but the subjugation of race still screams in the face of civil liberties even today, making Woodstone's work more poignant than ever.