Bracken creates two solid main characters and sets interesting rules and parameters for time travel in the first novel in her new series. Passenger offers a different peek into history as we see bygone times and places through a modern girl’s eyes as she witnesses past oppressions first-hand.
The Passenger Series
Point of View
This book is written in third person from a variety of points of view.
This book is set in a variety of times and places in a world where time travel is possible
– Henrietta/Etta Spencer – a talented violin player being raised by a single mother in NYC; she is thrust into a life of adventure she never knew existed
– Rose Spencer – Etta’s mom, who seems aloof but is hiding things from her daughter
– Sophia Ironwood – a member of a time traveling family who is unappreciated but yearns to prove her worth
– Nicholas Carter– a man from an earlier time period who is trying to build a life for himself despite the challenges his family and society presents; he has time travel experience
– Cyrus Ironwood – the patriarch of a time traveling family; he is ruthless and selfish
***** Everything below is a SPOILER *****
What happened in Passenger?
Bhutan – 1910 – Nicholas and Julian are journeying to a monastery in search of an important relic. A storm is moving in. Nicholas says they should set up camp and continue tomorrow. Julian insists they continue. A downpour ensues. Julian slips down a cliff. Nicholas tries to save him, but Julian falls.
NYC – Present day – Etta gazes at her mother’s paintings, which represent places Rose traveled before Etta was born. Tonight Etta will play her violin at her pre-debut. Her mother gives her an exquisite pair of antique earrings.
Etta’s teacher Alice is at the event. After noticing Etta’s earrings, she says she has a quick call to make. Etta warms up but is then worried about Alice and searches for her. She overhears Alice telling Rose Etta isn’t ready. Rose assures she is. Etta is angry about Alice’s lack of faith in her skills.
Etta takes the stage rattled. She plays until she hears a shrieking sound. The audience doesn’t hear it. She falters on her piece and leaves the stage.
Etta hears a shot and sees Alice bleeding. Alice dies. An old fashioned looking girl named Sophia pushes Etta into a stairwell where the air is humming and vibrating. She surfaces on a ship wearing an old dress.
The Atlantic – 1776 – Nicholas and Captain Hall’s crew capture the Ardent, looking for two female passengers. A mast is broken as a result of their attack. It knocks a beautiful blond woman into the sea. Nicholas rescues her.
Sophia is seasick and tells the men she and Etta are sisters. The ship is carrying them to New York City. It’s apparent Sophia and Nicholas know and don’t like each other. Sophia discovers Etta has never time traveled before.
Sophia tells Etta not to reveal anything to the crew. The ability to time travel is inherited from a parent. Etta realizes this is what her mom and Alice were arguing about. Her mother’s real last name is Linden. Time travel occurs through fissure-like passages all over the world. Etta learns about time travel and Sophia’s family. Sophia learns about the future.
Etta decides she must win over the crew to find out where the ship came from and attempt to return home. She first works on the very young Jack. While fixing her hair, he tells her about every man in the crew. Chase comes to collect Jack for dinner. Etta goes with them.
Wren, one of the Ardent’s officers, tells tall tales all the way through dinner. Etta diffuses two situations with him when he insults Jack and when Nicholas catches him in a lie. Nicholas is impressed.
Wren mentions the West Indies. Etta realizes this is where their ship is from. Her reaction makes Nicholas wonder whether she’s there of her own free will. Wren ends up repeatedly insulting Nicholas because of his skin color. Etta slaps him.
Etta and Nicholas talk up on the deck. Nicholas discovers Etta wasn’t raised with Sophia, has never time traveled before, was captured, and wants to go back to Nassau to find the portal home. He’s surprised to learn the year she’s from. It’s farther in the future than he thought time travel was possible.
Nicholas says Etta’s mother broke Augustus Ironwood’s heart. He went mad searching for her. Nicholas says if he sees she’s in danger when he delivers her to the Ironwoods, whom he despises, he will rescue her. Etta wonders why he stays in this time and place. He says he doesn’t have a choice.
Ten days later, they arrive in New York City. Nicholas, Etta, and Sophia go ashore in a small rowboat. Etta can’t believe the filth and smell in the city. Nicholas says this is where he was born, in 1757. He is an illegitimate Ironwood child; his mother was a slave of the family. They sold his mother. Captain Hall and his wife took him and Chase in and raised them.
They arrive at the Ironwood house and journey through the tavern on the first floor and the private rooms on the second floor. Cyrus Ironwood is waiting for them alone in his bedroom. He orders Sophia out of the room.
Cyrus is holding Etta’s mother hostage until Etta finds the astrolabe. It examines passages to determine their stability and the time period on the other side. He says it belongs to the Ironwoods. Rose was the last person who had it. Etta is the only one Cyrus thinks can find the artifact. Cyrus hands Etta a letter her mother wrote her. Etta recognizes the code, one her mother used since she was a little girl. Etta has nine days to bring the astrolabe to Cyrus. She agrees to try.
Etta shares a room with Sophia for the night. She discovers Sophia was engaged to Julian. Sophia thinks Nicholas killed Julian on purpose. Sophia didn’t love Julian but really liked him and wanted to marry him to be respected in the traveler community. Etta realizes how hard it is to be a female in this time.
Nicholas begs Cyrus to reconsider his offer to Etta. He won’t. He wants Nicholas to go with her as his spy to make sure she completes the task. Nicholas refuses. Cyrus offers him the whole Ironwood fortune in this time and place. He agrees.
Nicholas goes on a walk to clear his head. He sees Etta run by in the distance. He can feel she’s gone through a passage. He races after her and travels through, too.
London – 1940 – Etta is injured and has traveler’s sickness. She wants to save her mom and change Alice’s fate. Nicholas says she can’t because she can’t cross paths with herself. Etta tells him she knows how to read the letter. She thinks they should head to the British Museum.
The museum is closed and emptied of its artifacts because of the war. Etta remembers that Alice’s dad was a curator at the museum. Alice showed Etta her childhood home when they visited modern London together. Etta and Nicholas are being tailed by a couple of Ironwood’s guardians. They eventually lose them and are greeted by young Alice at her home.
Alice thinks Etta is Rose at first. Etta tells her the truth. Alice wonders if Etta/Henrietta is Henry’s daughter. Etta hasn’t heard that name. Etta learns Alice is a distant cousin. Alice’s branch of the family didn’t inherit time travel skills. Alice’s family took Rose in. In return, Rose brought rare artifacts to Alice’s dad for the museum.
Etta wants to tell Alice about the future. Alice won’t let her. Alice tells them the astrolabe can create passages. Whoever has it can control all of time. The Thorn family wants the astrolabe to go back to the original timeline, correcting all the changes Cyrus made to suit himself. They tell Alice they need to find the Elgin Marbles to find the next passage. Alice says they are tucked in a tunnel in the Underground.
A couple people chase them as they leave Alice’s house. A fight ensues. Nicholas and Etta get away. Air raid sirens go off. They run.
They make it underground and through the masses of people taking shelter there. The bombing is right overhead. The power goes out. Etta and Nicholas kiss.
Nicholas wakes up the next morning fighting his feelings for Etta. They try to find the passage while everyone else is sleeping. They’re being pursued by one of the Thorns. They escape through the passage.
Angkor, Cambodia – 1685 – Nicholas goes to get water. When he gets back, Etta is by a poisonous snake. He shoots at it. The bullet grazes Etta’s leg.
They make their way through the forest toward where Etta thinks the passage may be. They hide from an oncoming storm and kiss some more. They hear a passage humming. Etta thinks it sounds different than normal. They find it.
France – 1880 – They arrive in a park. Etta is able to travel without as much sickness now. Nicholas chases a woman he thinks is his mother. He says it’s not her once he got closer. They hear the crack of a passage. It is Augustus and another traveler. He thinks Etta is Rose. They run. Etta fires a shot behind them.
Etta remembers her mother switched the painting line up on their living room wall after Angkor. She and Nicholas rush back to their previous passage to backtrack.
Damascus – 1599 – They are in an apartment stocked by other travelers with a variety of items. Etta talks about destroying the astrolabe once she’s found it and rescued her mom. Nicholas wonders how different it would be for him to live in Etta’s time.
They find nothing important except a locked drawer. A man appears in the doorway. He and Nicholas fight. Etta breaks it up. The man is Hasan, Benjamin Linden’s son. He knows Rose from when she traveled there as a young woman. Etta proves she’s Rose’s daughter by her earrings. Hasan unlocks the drawer and gives Etta a letter her mother left for her. Etta figures out the coded clue. Ironwood wants the astrolabe to go back in time to save his first wife, Minerva.
Etta and Nicholas tend each other’s wounds. They want to be together in some time and place but discuss how it’s next to impossible. They wrestle with the facts they are hiding from each other. They are intimate.
Hasan thinks the clue is leading them to a valley of tombs in Palmyra. Etta thinks he’s right based on one of her mother’s paintings. It will be a hard two-day journey on horseback. Hasan wants to accompany them. Nicholas says no, but Etta says yes. They encounter two guardians when they head into the village to purchase provisions. Rose is there, too, but leaves. They try to kidnap Etta. A fight ensues between Nicholas and the guardians. He is stabbed and taken to a hospital.
Nicholas tells Etta the truth about working for Cyrus. She is not angry; she understands. When Nicholas wakes up from his feverish sleep, Etta is gone. A doctor tells Hasan he saw her leaving with a dark-headed Western woman and two men. Nicholas leaves the hospital to search for her despite his wounds.
Etta was knocked out and awakes riding a horse with an unknown man. Sophia and some guardians are her kidnappers. Etta tries to unravel the ties between Sophia and the men. It doesn’t work. But when they’re alone one night, Sophia follows up on one fact Etta mentioned. She asks whether the astrolabe can really create passages.
It’s a rough two-day journey to Palmyra. Etta says she’ll help them if Sophia will let her create a passage and go home before they take the astrolabe from her. Sophia agrees.
They finally find the astrolabe in a tomb with the Linden tree symbol on it. Etta holds it first and tries to destroy it by bashing it with a rock. The guardians are not Ironwoods even though Sophia found them in the Ironwood guardian house. They are Thorns. They demand the astrolabe.
Nicholas appears. A fight ensues. Nicholas is still injured and can’t fight with his usual strength. Etta is attacked. Nicholas tries to shoot her attacker, but the bullet goes through her shoulder. Sophia and the men prevail. They bind Nicholas and Sophia and leave them for dead with their injuries and without horses, camels, or provisions. Etta gets out of her bonds and begins to untie Nicholas. But her wound is grave. She becomes glittering dust and disappears.
How did Passenger end?
Nicholas is in anguish. It is his fault Etta is gone. Days later, he sees a figure on the horizon. He can tell it’s a woman as she gets closer. He thinks it’s Etta, but it’s an older version of her…Rose.
Rose easily escaped the Ironwoods to look for Etta and the astrolabe. She asks Nicholas to recount what has happened. He’s angry she never trained Etta. She says a traveler from the future told her not to do so because it would affect Etta’s choices. Rose planned everything out precisely, even Alice’s death, to set it up for Etta to find and destroy the astrolabe. She can’t understand how it went wrong. Something was altered, and this alteration could be catastrophic.
Nicholas relays what became of Etta. Rose says she isn’t dead. She says the passage in Damascus would’ve collapsed if a traveler died near it. She says it sounds like Etta was caught in a wrinkle. She has been transported to the last common event before the timeline shifted. But Rose isn’t sure where this is. Nicholas realizes this is what happened to Julian, too.
Rose is going to search for Etta. She thinks Henry Hemlock (from another traveling family and also Etta’s father) will be looking for her, too. Rose wants Nicholas to try to correct the event that caused the timeline to adjust, whatever it might be. He’ll have to find the Ironwoods and get the astrolabe. They decide to meet in 1776 Nassau in one month.
Hasan says there is a family who has something Nicholas might be interested in. It’s Sophia. She’s been beaten and stabbed. Nicholas thinks she’ll be useful to him when she’s healed. He tells her they have a journey to make.
There you go! That’s what happened in Passenger, the first book in this series. Wayfarer, the second and final book, is set to be released January 3, 2017!
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