I find time travel novels pretty hard to resist, particularly when they head into the past and concentrate very firmly on real life scenarios. Space Hopper fits the bill perfectly for me.

Faye is happy with her life. She has two beautiful children and if husband Eddie’s foray into training as a vicar isn’t quite what she had in mind then she’s prepared to get behind it if that’s what he wants. She works at the RNIB testing products to see how well they work for blind people. In short, she feels pretty fulfilled. But there’s something missing. Faye’s mum died when she was 8 in fairly unexpected circumstances and it’s left a hole in her life that she’s never been able to fill.

This is where it gets really interesting. Faye accidentally finds a portal into the past and finds she can get back to the 1970s when she was a young girl, before she lost her mum, and spend precious time with her as an adult.

I must admit that at the beginning of the book I wasn’t wholly convinced by the method of time travel or Faye and her mum’s relationship in the past, but as I read on I grew more and more invested in Faye’s journeys and I felt the storyline as a whole started to knit together more. I found her relationship with her mum to be very moving.

What I always enjoy most of all about time travel stories is the sheer mind-bending aspect of them, the way that a character can travel into the past and was absolutely meant to be there to make things happen in the future. There were some of those mind-bending happenings in this book and also a couple of serious hand over mouth moments. The plotting is brilliant and I thought the author really made this book a compelling and thought-provoking read. It certainly provided a talking point for me with family and friends.

After being slightly unsure at the start I ended up loving Space Hopper. It’s a touching exploration of mother/daughter relationships, it’s an enthralling story of venturing into the past, and it reminded me of my own Sunday teatimes watching Bullseye. It’s nostalgic, original and slightly crazy, and I enjoyed it very much.

Reviewed by Nicola Smith (Short Book and Scribes)

Simon & Schuster, hardback,
ISBN 978-1471188664, Feb 2021.