Mitch is a Time Walker. Hopping from body to body to fulfil missions he doesn’t know, he embodies the idea of just being yourself. However, when his partner is assassinated and his next jump compromised, he finds himself running from friends and enemies alike as existence unravels around him.
With a cast of time-hopping reality agents, a plot filled with changes of side, and a mythology riffed from classical mythology, this novel invites comparison with both Jerry Cornelius and the Illuminati! Trilogy. However, Kew competently puts their own spin on the tropes, creating a story (dis)comforting yet fresh.
Rejecting the usual time-travel dramas of a man out of time, Kew’s time travel places the traveller in an existing body; a body another agent has just vacated. Bounded not by when or where they can travel but by which ages they access, Time Walkers live out the same range of years in their bodies over and over again.
A second particularly interesting twist on time travel is the deliberate use of the butterfly effect: instead of carefully planned journeys being undone by failure to consider or avoid a minor change, front-line Time Walkers are sent where their natural inclinations will achieve the mission without needing an idea what that mission is.
Working the 25 to 40 years bracket, Mitch has a childish, womanising personality entirely consistent with living your prime repeatedly with little fear of death. But instead of Cornelius’ paisley style and unjustified belief in his competence, Mitch is a decidedly blue-collar man, trusting even more to luck and instinct than his fellow Time Walkers.
The supporting cast is equally carefully crafted. Mixing the archetypes of mythology and theology with the staples of Bondian spy thrillers, Kew creates a cast of triple agents who might be gods but are definitely the protagonists of their own narratives.
With so many threads, woven into the tale of an unreliable narrator who doesn’t care how things work, it is unsurprising that there are moments where the reader might struggle to understand events or become frustrated at what seems deus ex machina. However, these are not frequent, and later chapters provide a new perspective, rewarding a little tolerance.
I really enjoyed this novel. I recommend it to readers looking for a fresh take on time travel, as well as those interested in a more modern take on Moorcock or Wilson.