DATE: Fri 13 Aug 2021 19:14 By:

Just one damned Thing After Another.

Book: Just One Damned Thing After anotehr
Series: The Chronicles of St Mary's
Written by: Jodi Taylor

This is my current adventure into a category I call “Its trash I read to relax”. It has replaced the unfortunate Emerillia series for me. I was first attracted to this title because I once saw it on sale on Kindle for about 1p or something crazy. I remember picking it up and thinking “I’ll get to it one day” Well, this is the day, as it happens.

This is the story of Dr Madeleine “Max” Maxwell who works for a secret organisation called “St Marys” who are time traveling historians. The cast of characters is eccentric and little absent minded adding to the overall feel of “confused professor” that the book has.

The book opens with Max getting her new job and being told that its not “just” as history research project but an actual time travel job. she obviously excited but the tone of the book is consistently understated and quite British. She responds to the news with the word “Okay” and sipped from a cup of tea. It goes on like that for a great many pages.

The book really is quite a lot of fun. A read so easy that I feel like it was teleported into my head. The first half of the book straddles young adult and historical drama quite well while never quite committing to either. The characters have some excellent dialogue and he consistently British tone it set was entertaining, and in my case quite easy to relate to. It glows with wonderfully reserved ideas and has a charm that is quite opposed to the dominant American (USA) ‘cool’ that has become so dominant in story telling. Given how unoriginal the whole thing actually is, it has to get by on this charm.

What happens?

Max goes to a few places, gets used to her new job. Eventually she ends up hanging out with some dinosaurs and that’s the point where everything goes a bit wrong. Which is a shame really, I would have been quite happy for nothing to go wrong and then it just end. I liked basking in Max’s glib sense of humor and just experiencing her odd life.

The actual events in the book are like punctuation at the end of mundane moments that exist in a strange setting. I really liked this. I felt like the story was an after thought and it just helped to re-enforce that nutty old academic vibe.

Towards the very end it gets unnecessarily ‘action packed’ and there are some consistency issues with the description on the weapons used. Are they laser ‘blasters’ or guns because they are described as energy weapons but later they have to pick up the shell casings. Its really not clear. Actually, speaking of not clear I don’t even know when this is actually set.

The writing.

This is the first Jodi Taylor book I have read. I think it maybe her first book, thought there are many more from her since she wrote this. She writes excellent characters and is good at conveying a sense of place and mood. She is however really bad at two things.

  1. Research
  2. Time

It seems like the author did nothing but watch the most basic BBC educational programmes for this. The settings just felt like they were about as well informed as your average GCSE history student.

As for “time” that one was thorny for me. Books have a pace to them and the passage of time needs to flow through the work. Some books do this via the old “one year later” chapter titles. In my own writing I have once or twice use the old “The months passed like days” chestnut. In this book I felt like it was an new weeks of story then suddenly the lead character noted that she had been at St Marys for two years. Then just a few chapters later it was five years. The time scale would have worked far better in months not years. It was jarring and felt, well just wrong really.

But in the end.

When I go to the end of the book I was guilty of insta-purchasing the next one. there are quite a few in the series and I assume the writing gets at least a little more elegant as it goes on. With such likable main character and such endearing dialogue I can’t not binge at least one more.

I feel like this would work incredibly well as a TV show. So much so that I actually half wonder if it was written as a script first. It just drips with BBC sensibilities. I don’t usually like that but in this case it works perfectly. Actually now I think about it, I’m not even sure if it was supposed to be a comedy. There’s a thought!

You should read it if you want British soft as heck science fiction with a lot of personality and plenty of tea drinking.

I liked it.