I’ve done a few rereads of series this year, which I need to repeat I honestly don’t typically do, but I guess I needed some nostalgia from known stories given the year. This one interestingly I actually haven’t read in a years, so this whole experience was definitely testing whether the book stands the test of time or if nostalgia increased my love for the series. Since this is a series reread review there are potential spoilers ahead.
The Precious Stone Trilogy, or Ruby Red Trilogy by Kerstin Gier follows a sixteen year old Gwenyth Shepherd in modern day London. Her life is normal, but in her house she is surrounded by the mysteries her Grandmother, Lady Arista, and her cousin, Charlotte are immersed in. While much of it is kept from her, she’s heard enough to know it involves time travel.
Reread Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
So, this was a little different reading 3-4 years later for me. I don’t necessarily have reviews from when I first read this series (before the Blog), just the ratings I gave the books back then, so I can only guess at what my original thoughts on the books were. Starting with Ruby Red, I will say that if I had picked up this book now I’m not sure how determined I would have been to read this. It’s in first person which I already tend to not like, and the main character is fairly young in age and how she acts overall. As someone in their twenties it’s a little hard to go along with a character that age at times just in terms of different priorities, speech, etc. I also forgot over time how quickly the romance and events in this series take off. They said in the last book that all of the events have taken place over two weeks, but it just didn’t connect how fast things were moving until they said that! I get that traumatic/highly intense experiences can push people together quickly, but I felt floored by that number when I read it. I guess in some ways, nostalgia can dull out some of those little things.
Now that I’ve gone into the few things that made me pause in my reading, let me go into why this series will still remain on my shelves. For one, Time Travel. There still aren’t a whole bunch of books that delve into the intricacies of time travel. I have a few books on my shelves (A Discovery of Witches, Passenger, and Firebird Trilogy), but I haven’t come across a lot of these stories, and not all of those I named even take a scientific approach. I think I honestly see it more in my tv shows or movies than I do in a bookstore. That’s not necessarily bad, but it definitely makes me enjoy this kind of story more since there’s not too many variations of this out there, unlike dystopian or vampires, which we have had a truck load of. Not the most glowing reason to keep a series, but wait there’s more.
Going beyond my nostalgia, I still really do like the characters in this series. Gwyneth is a little hard to adjust to in the first book, but slowly I started to enjoy her approach to taking in all the scary facts and finding some good. I love Lesley, her friend, and the detective work she does through Google to try to get both of them caught up to the secret society in terms of knowledge. It’s a bit of a stretch to think you can google shady people like that, but I honestly appreciate the attempt made there by them. Gideon was a handful in the beginning, but I still liked him as we moved through the story. The character I forgot about? Charlotte. I seriously forgot how bad she could be. I think a lot of her actions were fueled by a deep jealousy and frustration at not being the Ruby in the end, but yikes. She literally was either just mad at Gwenyth, or suspecting her of wrong doing, there was no other emotion in there. I may have to put her in a list at some point, because she wasn’t the big bad villain, but I seriously enjoyed not liking her, so she may have something in common with Umbridge on that note. Now the character I simultaneously forgot about, and could have done without is Xemerius. This little demon aged down the last two books for me just in his narration of things happening, and general behavior. I get that it was a good plot device to have a character that could fill Gwenyth in on what’s going on, but I have a hard time believing a demon who’s haunted the earth for centuries is going to talk like a preteen, or be interested in the things he was. Yes, he was starved for attention, and communication, but it was still more childlike than centuries old behavior.
The last thing that I would say kept this series going for me was the time traveling itself. I’m not well versed in the time periods explored in this series at all, but it felt different each time they travelled. Sometimes the description of the clothes helped make this happen, other times it was a mix of setting and characters that brought you into the “new” setting. I love a good historical fiction, or just historical setting in general so exploring this and the differences to our modern culture is always fun for me. I still need to look up whether smiling with your teeth was as bad as one of the tutors said it was. It always makes me wonder how hard it would be to travel to a different time than our own, at least beyond the wardrobe change.
I think this one was a mix in terms of standing up to the test of time for me. There were some negatives this time around that I don’t think bothered me as much when I first read it, and yet I still really enjoyed this series. It was fun, exciting, and gorgeous in bringing the reader to different time periods, and on board with this concept of time travel. Would it be a top pick for adults in this genre? Maybe not, but I’d say it’s still worth exploring if you aren’t out looking for the most serious, and dramatic take on Time Travel.