The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas – A Review


The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas
Science Fiction | Mystery
Published by Crooked Lane Books
Released August 9, 2018
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_5_stars

I didn’t know too much about this book before starting it. I saw it at my local library, and thought to myself, “Wow, that’s a cool cover. And I love time travel!” So, I promptly checked it out and brought it home.

I’m glad I brought it home, because WOW. This book and Kate Mascarenhas’s writing blew me away. I inhaled this book in just a couple of days because I was hooked.

The Psychology of Time Travel is a non-linear mystery story involving time travel. Four women worked together to create time travel in 1967. One of these women, Barbara, has a bit of a mental breakdown and is promptly given the boot out of the team.

Fifty years into the future, Barbara’s granddaughter, Ruby, finds a small, origami rabbit on her doorstep with a date in the near future. She becomes concerned that the date might be that of her grandmother’s death and sets out to uncover the truth about the Time Traveler’s Conclave.

We also meet Odette, who stumbles upon the scene of a gruesome murder and is trying to figure out the mystery of who was murdered and how.

This novel is complex and told in a non-linear format. We jump from past to future frequently, but I never felt lost or confused. The story is easy to follow.

The characters are wonderfully written with very distinct personalities and motives. One of the aspects of this novel that I enjoyed was that practically its entire cast is made up of female characters, with LGBTQ representations. It’s so rare, especially in science fiction, to find a novel that isn’t dominated by male characters.

Life's better with a few risks than a lot of regrets..png

It’s very clear that the novel is written by someone with a degree in psychology, which Kate Mascarenhas has. The novel is focused on how people would deal with time travel and how it would influence our perspectives. The impact time travel would have on crime was particularly fascinating:  Would authorities be able to use time travel to catch the perpetrator, or would it still happen?  Questions like that are examined throughout the novel.

My favorite aspect of the novel was the examination of how Mascarenhas’s characters dealt with traveling into the past to see loved ones who had passed.

“When you’re a time traveler, the people you love die, and you carry on seeing them, so their death stops making a difference to you. The only death that will ever change things is your own.”

So much of time travel literature and media is limited by paradoxes and not running into your former selves, but that is not the case in the world Mascarenhas has created. In this novel, it’s normal to watch yourself die, hang out with your future or past selves, or even to have sex with yourself. Without the limitations of paradoxes, so many opportunities are opened up.

The novel also deals with difficult topics, but in a new light, such as mental illness, trauma, sexuality, love and loss, and death. All of these issues are touched on and examined through the lens of time travel.

This book has stuck with me as few others have. Usually, it’s simple for me to finish a book and go on to another, but this book left me with an intense book hangover. I kept coming back to the story over and over again in my head. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever read before.

I sincerely hope that Kate Mascarenhas will write more novels in the future.

Sidenote: Kate Mascarenhas’s website contains some dioramas inspired by the book. Check them out here. There’s also a video of her talking about the book, which is fascinating.

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