Trapped in Time, by Clay Brandenburg, is a page-turning time travel novel that transports the reader to 1944 in Nazi Germany.
In 2013, John Cleary, a high school history teacher, is trying to put his life back together. His wife was killed in a car accident. During a camping trip with two of his childhood friends, John is caught in the midst of a meteorological phenomenon that mysteriously transports him to wartorn Germany. He’s trapped in 1944.
Klara Bock, a widow, lives alone on a rural farm. Her only companion is her dachshund, Bratwurst. Klara’s father didn’t support the Nazis full-heartedly, and due to this, Klara is hounded by the Gestapo on a regular basis.
When she discovers John lying unconscious on her property she has to decide if she wants to help a stranger and risk being discovered by the authorities, or let John die.
The author wisely ignores the mechanics of how his main character is transported back in time. This enhances the novel. Too much explanation can cause issues for readers who enjoy picking apart theories. Too little explanation is head-scratching for all. Brandenburg offers just enough details to make the reader think, “Yeah, okay.”
Then he whisks you into the terrifying aspects of being mysteriously transported to Nazi Germany in 1944. Even if the reader is still unsure about the feasibility of time travel, soon all that matters is the horror of what’s happening to John. How will an American man from 2013 survive the Nazis? You don’t have to be a history major to know that the Nazis weren’t the type to accept those who were different. This added element is delightfully frightening. The reader doesn’t want to see what can happen to John, but all the possibilities: imprisonment, the Gestapo, concentration camps, and death camps abound in one’s mind. This heightens the fear, causing the reader to rush through the pages hoping for the best, but always fearing the worst.
Then there’s the relationship between John and Klara. Just from reading the synopsis the reader knows that this is not just a time travel story, but also a love story. Yet, it’s not a soppy love story. The author makes the readers care about John and Klara. Both have survived personal tragedies and they are in the midst of a war. Their feelings develop quickly, but that isn’t unusual in the times of war. Their previous loss has taught them that life is short and when a door opens you should walk through it. This helps with creating a relationship that feels real, not forced. Both characters are developed, aiding the reader to become invested in the story and in their lives. The reader wants to see them happy and she wants them to survive.
Yet, the author throws in twists and turns, never letting the reader to let their guard down. Even if John and Klara are on the outskirts of the war, the reach of the war is all-consuming. Nowhere is safe for the lovers and they have to be constantly vigilant. There are some tense scenes and it’s nearly impossible to set the book aside. This book is an emotional rollercoaster. The action, love, the threat of losing everything, and the fear of death make this an exciting read. The only disappointment is the ending, which seems a bit rushed and too neat.
This novel will appeal to readers who love time travel and historical fiction.