Book Review

Alice Payne Arrives by Kate Heartfield

Alice Payne Arrives is a fun novella about women of color being awesome during all time periods. Alice is an 18th century Englishwoman who has a side hobby of robbing men who are known to be rapists or wifebeaters with the help of her lady lover's automaton. Prudence is a 22nd century teleosopher (someone who studies the way time travel changes history) with a drastic plan to end the History War.

A disillusioned major, a highwaywoman, and a war raging across time.

It’s 1788 and Alice Payne is the notorious highway robber, the Holy Ghost. Aided by her trusty automaton, Laverna, the Holy Ghost is feared by all who own a heavy purse.

It’s 1889 and Major Prudence Zuniga is once again attempting to change history―to save history―but seventy attempts later she’s still no closer to her goal.

It’s 2016 and . . . well, the less said about 2016 the better!

But in 2020 the Farmers and the Guides are locked in battle; time is their battleground, and the world is their prize. Only something new can change the course of the war. Or someone new.

Little did they know, but they’ve all been waiting until Alice Payne arrives.

Goodreads

Alice Payne Arrives is a fun novella about women of color being awesome during all time periods. Alice is an 18th century Englishwoman who has a side hobby of robbing men who are known to be rapists or wifebeaters with the help of her lady lover’s automaton. Prudence is a 22nd century teleosopher (someone who studies the way time travel changes history) with a drastic plan to end the History War.

I’ll be honest, the nuances of time travel usually go over my head, so what I’m looking for in a time travel story is interesting characters (mentioned above) and something thought-provoking. In the future, time travelers are divided between Farmers and Misguideds. Prudence is a Farmer, the more conservative group that believes history should be altered with care. The Misguideds (“No one is wrong, the Farmer’s creed declared. Only misguided.”) are more liberal, traveling throughout history to nudge people into more progressive timelines, usually with negative effects.

I was surprised at first, as I assumed that the book was therefore anti-progressive. That’s not it at all, though. The book is anti-extremism. As the two groups further entrenched themselves in their viewpoints, traveling throughout history to counteract the other group’s actions, time spiraled out of control into chaos. Reactionary extremism is a very salient topic nowadays, and not one I expected to find in a sci-fi novella!

What Makes This Book Queer?

Alice is explicitly bisexual and is in a secret relationship with Jane, her companion and a talented scientist. They are in an established relationship, and I am astounded at home much depth their relationship is given in such a short novel (I keep mentioning this fact – I wish the story were longer!).

I mean, how can you not love a book that includes one lady saying to another: “Kiss me, and then take my hand, because I don’t know what happens next.”

I’ve already got the second book, Alice Payne Rides on hold. I can’t wait to read it!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

2 comments on “Alice Payne Arrives by Kate Heartfield

  1. Pingback: Alice Payne Rides by Kate Heartfield – Roar Cat Reads

  2. Pingback: 10 Underrated LGBTQ+ Books – Roar Cat Reads

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