________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 20 . . . . May 29, 2009

cover Tragic Links. (Canadian Disaster Series).

Cathy Beveridge.
Vancouver, BC: Ronsdale Press, 2009.
181 pp., pbk., $10.95.
ISBN 978-155380-066-8.

Subject Headings:
Québec Bridge Disaster, Québec, 1907-Juvenile fiction.
Laurier Palace Movie Theatre Fire, Montréal, Québec, 1927-Juvenile fiction.
Time travel-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 5-8 / Ages 10-13.

Review by Tanya Boudreau.

*** /4


A car drove up as Jolene materialized in the past, but the driver didn’t seem to notice. On the steps of the church, whose tolling bells filled the warm Saturday afternoon air, was another nervous bride, dressed in an embroidered silk gown, cloth-covered shoes and a short veil. Jolene hurried away, smiling at the way times changed but did not change.

As she turned onto St. Catherine Street, the main east-west thoroughfare, a car rolled into an intersection, stopping for a horse and buggy that clip-clopped down the road. There were more care than horses and the sound of horns and engines coughing made the animals skittish. A feeling of expectation, a feverish din that was a real as the young men and women who strolled past the shops and theatres enveloped her.

When Jolene goes through a time crease, she sees someone who looks just like her. She’s excited to find out more about this mysterious twin, but she’s been told seeing your twin is an omen of death. Will Jolene be able to save her twin when the time comes, or will Jolene be the one who needs saving? The past holds the answers….. and some secrets. As she learn more about Montreal and Quebec City in the 1920s, Jolene and her friend Stephan discover things about their families they never knew.

    Time creases can hide in the shadows. They can be beside bodies of water or city buildings. Jolene found them near a church and an old theatre. When you step into a time crease, you feel pressure on your body and energy in the air. When you step out, you’ll see a changed world. The time creases in Tragic Links take Jolene back to the year 1927 and 1907. In 1927, she travels alone, aware of the risks she is taking and the promises she is breaking. But new friends wait for her on the other side; friends who will take her to silent movies and out for homemade milkshakes. Jolene slips through the time crease again and again to spend time with this group of girls her own age, a group that includes her twin. But before Jolene can find out how her twin is connected with the present, a fire breaks out at the Laurier Palace Theatre while they are all watching a matinee. Jolene will need to find a way out and rescue her friends.

    After surviving the fire, Jolene learns why she should never time-travel by herself. When a time crease opens to the year 1907, Jolene isn’t alone. She peeks into Quebec City’s past with her grandpa, her brother, and her friend Stephan. They overhear a conversation, which should have never taken place, and witness the collapse of the Quebec Bridge. Jolene can’t rescue anyone this time. She can only watch as 75 people are killed; five of whom are Stephan’s ancestors from the Mohawk nation.

    Although the main characters in this book are fictional, the two disasters that occur in this story are part of Canada’s history. Through the author’s careful retelling of events, readers will learn about the circumstances surrounding each disaster, including ideas about how both could have been prevented.

    Young readers who enjoyed traveling into Canada’s past with the “Canadian Flyers Adventures” series written by Frieda Wishinsky, might enjoy reading the “Canadian Disaster Series” when they are a little older. Both series involve time-travelling and exploring Canadian history. Tragic Links doesn’t show the best parts of our past, but the story does remind us how our actions (both on the job and within relationships) can affect others. Tragic Links could easily be read as a stand-alone because of the background information incorporated into the story, but readers who enjoy disaster stories or historical fiction may want to read the first three books in the series: Shadows of Disaster, Chaos in Halifax, and Stormstruck.

    Many of the feelings that go along with a first crush are described in this book, as are some of the sights and sounds one might see at a fire or an accident scene. However, author Cathy Beveridge is aware of her readers’ age when including such scenes in her book. A writing consultant who lives in Calgary, AB, Cathy’s published works include several short stories and two young adult novels.


Tanya Boudreau is a librarian at the Cold Lake Public Library in Cold Lake, AB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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