Tomorrow’s Guardian by Richard Denning

Book jacket of Tomorrow's Guardian, Richard Denning's time travel novel for young adultsLike so many people, I am intrigued by the notion of time travel and was expecting to enjoy this book. I love early sci-fi such as H G Wells’ The Time Machine, including the classic 1960 film of it, (spookily made in the year of my birth) and I embrace any opportunities to flirt further with this appealing notion.

Although Tomorrow’s Guardian is aimed at young adults rather than someone of (ahem) my age, it was still a fun read, and I loved the innovative method with which the young hero, Tom, is able to travel through time, known as “walking”. Essentially, feeling a little faint and disoriented is a warning sign that he learns to recognise as an imminent trip through time. He soon learns to control and manipulate his extraordinary ability and to use his powers to benefit others. (Well, he is a goodie.) I can imagine young readers everywhere, whenever they feel a bit dizzy, giving it a go to see if they can also manage this trick. It’s what I like to call a Narnia moment – haven’t we all had those, when we reach through to the back of the wardrobe to see whether there’s another world waiting for us there? I know I have! (Well, many years ago, anyway!)

The author deftly weaves together multiple threads of time, playing off against each other interesting characters from key points in history, making them collaborate convincingly with his 21st century hero. I’m sure that reading this book will make many young people pay more attention in history lessons from now on. This story will really make them feel a new connection with people from days gone by – a great achievement following the latest reports on the news this morning that fewer teenagers are choosing to study history.

The author also provides some appealing quasi-scientific explanations of how the whole time travel business works. Wouldn’t we all like to believe it could happen?

Reading this book as an adult, I spotted one interesting detail that might pass younger readers by: the ability of a medical doctor to cure the injured by simply by “walking” them better. Knowing from the author’s website that he is himself a medical doctor, I’d suggest that there could be another novel in that idea, Dr Denning! I can imagine that to any medic, this fantasy would be a comforting thought when dealing with a particularly tricky case in real life. (I once wrote a story about a GP who spent his idle moments drawing masterful portraits of perfect bodies as an antidote to spending his days dealing with sick ones – I’ll be including that story in a future collection of my short stories.)

The only thing I was less than enthusiastic about was the cover, which only made sense to me after I’d read the book. I’d have preferred something more obvious  – but then I recognise that covers are very subjective and I’m hardly the best person to set the standard for a young adult novel.

How much I enjoyed this book can be judged by the fact that the minute I finished reading it, I downloaded the sequel, Yesterday’s Treasures , on my Kindle. I’m looking forward to finding out where Tom’s next journey will take me…

 Tomorrow’s Guardian and Yesterday’s Treasures are both available to order online and via good high street book retailers, as hardback, paperback and e-book, at various prices according to format. I’d suggest visiting Richard Denning’s website as a starting point, where you’ll also find details of his other books and activities. How does he find the time? Perhaps he really has discovered the secret of time travel? Yes, that must be it! Dr Denning, you’ve been rumbled!

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