A Catalogue of Catastrophe is the 13th instalment in the Chronicles of St Mary’s series; a sci-fi, historical fiction series that focuses on the idea of using time travel to accurately document historical events, and let’s be honest, where things often get out of hand. This particular instalment follows our trusted protagonist Maxwell as she sets out to bring down the big bad organisation on who we have been gaining traction on throughout the series, but it seems all her time-travelling is beginning to catch up with her.
Considering that A Catalogue of Catastrophe is the 13th instalment of the series, I’m sure it’s already pretty clear I simply adore the Chronicles of St Mary’s series as a whole. I love the concept of combining time travel and history in the simple context of learning. Jodi Taylor’s writing of historical events is just so compelling, factual and yet fantastical in elements to keep things constantly interesting. The three main historical events we see in this instalment are; the signing of the Magna Carta (1215), the Battle of Lincoln (1217), and the Gunpowder plot (1605) – all pivotal moments in English history that are under threat. I really enjoyed stepping back into English history, as my personal knowledge is very limited and Taylor also ensured that each location had various elements to draw in the reader, from action, to danger to plotting and nervously waiting.
All the characters across the Chronicles of St Mary’s series are brilliantly written, all having individual, fleshed-out personalities and stories. I especially enjoyed A Catalogue of Catastrophe because Markham, my all-time favourite from the series is a prominent player in the plot. I really do relish, how even after 13 instalments (and plenty of side-novels/novellas), Taylor can still show us character growth and strength and still introduce new, different characters in the same breath.
The plot of this book does follow a slightly different formula to that of the others, seeing as in the 12th instalment, (Another Time, Another Place), we saw Max left on the outs with the beloved St Mary’s Institute. Taylor has really managed to mix things up whilst keeping the heart of her stories, this time adding a bit of tension and anger into the underlying emotions of both the characters and plot.
Usually, I like to give a rounded review and also state a point or two where I feel the story may have been lacking (not a critique, but a purely personal opinion), however, I am really struggling to think of something for A Catalogue of Catastrophe. After 9 years of building this universe (and building further upon it in the newer Time Police series), Taylor really has found the perfect balance for her novels and for her characters.
As I’m sure you’ve garnered, I loved reading A Catalogue of Catastrophe and I eagerly await the opportunity to read even more of these characters I love so much. I fully intended to delve my way into the Time Police series soon and cannot thank the publishers, Headline, enough for allowing me the opportunity to not only read this instalment in advance but to be part of the blog tour (details of which you will see in the photo at the top). I would recommend the book/series to any lover of sci-fi and history, although I do feel those who enjoy new adult and general adult fantasy/sci-fi may find the series more enjoyable due to Taylor’s writing being more relatable for those slightly older readers. I must also shout out the audio-book version of this series (as this is how I have consumed the majority of this series) because Zara Ramm does an amazing job of bringing these characters to life and it just translates to listening material perfectly.
Thanks again to NetGalley and the Headline Publishers for providing me with this novel in exchange for an honest review