- Author: N.D. Wilson
- Performed by MacLeod Andrews
- Published: HarperAudio, released on Audible April 2016
- Category: YA, Fantasy
A new fantasy-adventure trilogy about a misfit twelve-year-old with a dangerous destiny to fulfill, a mystical time walker who is sent to protect him, and a maniacal villain with a deadly vendetta that began two hundred years ago in the heart of the Old West.
Outlaws of Time is a mix of adventure, legend and fantasy, set in the Arizona desert where twelve year old Sam Miracle is in foster care at the St Anthony of the Desert Destitute Youth Ranch (SADDYR) run by the Spaldings, who agreed ‘to guardian absolutely any boy the state of Arizona might be willing to send them (along with a check.)’ According to the Spaldings, Sam was the worst boy they’d ever fostered. Firstly because Sam got totally lost in powerful and detailed waking dreams. Dreams that seem so real they’re like recollections from his past, which confuses Sam no end. Added to that, the bones in Sam’s arms have been so damaged that they are incapable of movement, fused at the elbow, and sometimes very painful.
Sam’s friends at the facility look out for him, especially when his mind is wandering. In his dreams Sam is a courageous, gun-toting hero trying to save his sister, Millie, from El Buitre, or the Vulture as he is also known. Sam’s dreams never end well though, invariably he and/or his sister end up dead.
If you could stand still in time, you would feel it hissing around you like wind made of sand. If you had wings made for that wind, you could soar above the swirl of history as easily as a crow circles a hayfield. You could float just beyond the edge of every now; you could spread your time-gliding wings like two cold shadows over always. Priests would shiver when you passed. Dreams would scatter. Dogs would howl. Slow ghosts would trail behind you as you peered down into moment after moment, searching for your prey, searching for the one boy you had lost, for the boy who had been hidden in sometime.
Sam is a quirky and almost improbable hero, but altogether relatable for a boy with his problems. He discovers he has really lived his dreams, must stop an evil outlaw and that he can move through time. He and Glory Spalding, who acts as Sam’s memory and anchor, are drawn into incredible adventures and an eventual confrontation with El Buitre. Aided by Father Tiempo, a time travelling priest, and two Native American healers, Sam and Glory face an epic battle, with tough choices to make and huge difficulties to overcome.
The storyline is dark but with clearly defined boundaries between good and evil, the force for good is dominant, in both the narrative and the characterisation. And, although this is aimed at the preteen/young adult market, I think anyone who enjoys fantasy, incorporating everything mentioned which also includes destruction on a grand scale, revenge and terrible evil, would enjoy it. These issues are dealt with appropriately for younger readers. Great world building, characters, magic, snakes and infamous legends of the Old American West add to the enjoyment.
It’s an unusual take on time travel (creative but a little confusing at times) with the added historical wild west element, which spans centuries. Strong images are created by the descriptive writing, the setting and action scenes. This is the first of a series so the story isn’t wrapped up completely and will continue.
MacLeod Andrews does an outstanding job with the narration, with believable characterisations and voices which are defined and realistic throughout.
About N.D. Wilson
N. D. Wilson is the author of Leepike Ridge, a children’s adventure story, and 100 Cupboards, the first installment in a multi-world fantasy series. He enjoys high winds, milk, and night-time. He received his Masters degree from Saint John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, is the managing editor of Credenda/Agenda magazine and is also a Fellow of Literature at New Saint Andrews College. His writing has appeared in Books & Culture, The Chattahoochee Review, and Esquire.