Editorial Reviews ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Mender Review — The Historical Fiction Company
Jennifer Marchman’s “The Mender” is a unique story that explores changing cultural landscapes through the context of time travel and alternate realities. This is a story that falls into many categories – historical fiction, speculative science fantasy, philosophical exploration, with a strong focus on characters and interpersonal dynamics. The novel adeptly and effectively navigates between Eva and Jim’s perspectives, two characters from vastly different worlds, bringing them together in a compelling story that transcends temporal boundaries.
“Fully between dimensions, she sought the beacon set by her people’s scouts on previous missions to guide them. The worlds floated around her, a near-infinite shimmering sea. Without difficulty, she located the signal, but as she drew closer, the target split into two diverging lights. Her thoughts flew to Tophe. Uncertain where he would go, she knew she must choose before her strength wore out.”
The story begins with Eva’s accidental quantum leap to 1835 Texas, introducing readers to Sanctum, Axis Mundi, and the True Line. Marchman excels in building a foundation of quantum concepts without overwhelming the reader, allowing the plot to unfold seamlessly. Eva’s struggle with displacement, her encounter with Jim, and the subsequent exploration of cultural clashes provide an engaging entry into the novel.
The meticulous – yet never overwhelming – attention to historical detail is one of the novel’s greatest fortes. The chapters from Jim’s perspective immerse readers in the rich tapestry of Comanche life, incorporating familial life, tribal dynamics, and the impending raid to Mexico. Marchman skillfully integrates historical events, such as the tensions between Anglo settlers and Mexico, adding a sense of authenticity and immersion to the story.
The evolving relationship between Eva and Jim forms the heart of the story. Marchman masterfully captures the nuances of their connection, from the initial disorientation to the gradual understanding and friendship – that later evolves into more – that develops. Eva’s constant internal conflict, grappling with the implications of her prolonged stay in the wrong timeline, adds a layer of conflict and urgency to the story that is easy to relate to.
Marchman demonstrates a keen understanding of character development, allowing readers to engage with a diverse range of personalities, motivations, and conflicts.
Eva emerges as a complex and relatable protagonist that is easy to root for. As a Lux Libera operative with quantum abilities, Eva grapples with the responsibilities of her mission and the unintended consequences of time travel. Marchman beautifully portrays Eva’s sense of unease with her situation and her conflicted feelings with her role, capturing the emotional nuances of her disorientation, guilt, and evolving understanding of the true line. The depth of Eva’s character is further revealed through her interactions with Jim, her struggles with societal norms, and her contemplation of existential questions.
Meanwhile, Jim, a Comanche farmer with a tumultuous past, is a standout leading man despite his flaws as a person. Marchman delves into Jim’s cultural identity, the trauma of his capture and torture, and his struggle to reconcile his dual existence. Jim’s interactions with Eva provide insight into his protective nature, the complexities of his relationships, and his internal conflicts. Marchman writes Jim’s character with empathy, portraying him as a multidimensional individual shaped by historical circumstances.
Supporting characters, such as Pump were unexpectedly effective. Pump’s role as a friend to Jim and a fellow traveler adds layers of depth to the story, exploring themes of loyalty, guilt, and the consequences of choices. The ensemble of characters also includes figures from historical contexts, such as Mr. and Mrs. McMullen, providing a nuanced portrayal of the social dynamics and attitudes of the time. These characters contribute to the authenticity of the historical setting and serve as catalysts for Eva and Jim’s interactions.
The characterization in the story extends far beyond individual personas to explore themes of identity, cultural clash, and the impact of choices on personal growth. The author carefully crafts characters whose arcs intersect and diverge, creating a narrative that is both character-driven and conceptually rich.
Marchman’s narrative chops shines in the intimate moments shared between the characters. Whether it’s the playful banter during a horseback ride, the emotional scenes, or the heated discussions about societal norms, Marchman excels in creating scenes that resonate emotionally with the reader. The dialogue feels organic, flows well, and thoroughly immerses the reader in their world. The characters’ vulnerabilities and struggles are portrayed with authenticity, creating a deep connection between the reader and the story.
As Eva begins to settle into her new life, Marchman introduces philosophical discussions about the meaning of life, the intricacies of interconnected souls, and the implications of altering timelines. These contemplative elements are thought-provoking layer and poignant, inviting readers to ponder existential questions alongside the characters.
The clash between the ethics of Lux Libera’s advanced society and the historical context of 1835 Texas becomes a crucible for moral introspection. The story deftly navigates the intricacies of cultural clash, prompting reflections on moral relativism. The characters – mainly Eva – find themselves confronting the challenge of imposing contemporary values on societies of the past, raising poignant questions about cultural sensitivity, understanding, and the potential ethical pitfalls of judgment.
The novel scrutinizes their individual responses to systemic injustice, shedding light on the moral responsibility to challenge societal norms and the complex dynamics of occupying the moral high ground within historical constraints.
Identity and self-understanding become poignant themes as characters grapple with their roles as well. Jim’s dual identity as a Comanche raised among Anglo settlers prompts profound questions about cultural allegiance and moral duty. Simultaneously, Eva wrestles with the conflict of her identity as a Lux Libera operative, navigating the moral impact of her actions across different timelines.
The evolving relationship between Eva and Jim introduces nuanced moral dilemmas regarding personal boundaries, cultural norms, and societal expectations. The novel delves into the complexity of their connection, creating tension between personal desires and the ethical considerations of their extraordinary circumstances.
“If she held a weapon, would she shoot? The choice to save one was often the choice to destroy another. And which was more worthy? Neither. Both.”
As the narrative unfolds, characters like Eva and Pump find themselves entangled in moral conundrums concerning responsibilities to others, both within and outside their temporal community. The novel prompts reflection on the moral imperative to intervene, help, or withhold information based on a sense of duty, emphasizing the profound consequences of such decisions.
Marchman doesn’t shy away from darker themes, either, particularly in Jim’s chapters, addressing historical conflicts, trauma, and the complexities of cultural identity. The author handles these themes with sensitivity, allowing readers to empathize with the characters’ struggles while shedding light on the historical realities of the time.
“The Mender” successfully balances historical depth, philosophical inquiry, and emotional resonance, creating a multifaceted reading experience that is enjoyable and poignant. Marchman’s fluid prose, well-written characters, and immersive plot make this novel a standout in the genre of historical fiction with a speculative twist. If you’re a fan of time travel stories, or enjoyed the TV show “The Man in the High Castle”, this is a series you will certainly want to pick up.
“The Mender” by Jennifer Marchman receives five stars and the “Highly Recommended” award of excellence from The Historical Fiction Company
Independently Published (2023)
Reviewed by Ephantus M for Reader Views (09/2023)
Jennifer Marchman’s “The Mender” is an appealing blend of science fantasy and historical romance, and the first installment of The Mender Trilogy. The novel showcases an epic historical journey through pre-revolutionary Texas, through the adventures of a stranded time traveler and an Anglo-turned-Comanche farmer.
Eva is among the chosen individuals of the Lux Libera society, who can traverse different worlds effortlessly. In one of her adventures with her friend Tophe, she mistakenly exits a portal after missing the regular guidance beacon to her home. She is shocked to find herself in a dark zone with an inky blackness, that reminds her of the Abyss. Eva can feel her mind plunging into deep confusion but remains hopeful that this turn of events is just a dream. However, a small step forward sends her tumbling into a seemingly bottomless void, and into a world that is decades behind her typical timeline.
The author blends fantasy, history, and romance to create a tempting tale, which, although slow-burning, picks up pace along the way to wholly capture the reader’s attention and imagination. Readers are witness to the mutation of a belief instilled into the protagonist by the time-traveling society to which she belongs. A change of circumstances that will excite a reader’s emotions forces the protagonist to adapt to a different civilization, where she meets a farmer and a former Comanche captive who is struggling with the events of his past. He is also struggling to find favor within Austin’s territory of San Felipe, and his encounter with Eva may be all that is needed to shift his thoughts and dilemmas regarding some fundamental inferences.
Marchman’s writing prowess is evident as she combines fantasy and romantic facets to make the historical particulars of this book fascinating to fans of these genres. Readers get to interact with the well-hewn characters who ably carried this read to the 2022 top rank in the Writers’ League of Texas Manuscript Contest. The author is careful to let her audience know that some of the secondary characters are actual people who deviated from the Anglo, Mexican, and Comanche civilizations. She also points out that the Tikkun Olam, an ancient concept in Judaism, has inspired the ideation of the Lux Libera and Pump, and that the concept of travel between dimensions has been inspired by String Theory.
“The Mender” is without a doubt a masterpiece that will inspire a reader’s adaptability to fateful situations, as well as their decision-making and perspicuity skills. It delivers on all fronts and will relate most to individuals who have found themselves caught up in erratic occurrences and unpredictable arcs in life. Additionally, history enthusiasts who desire a read that colorfully paints the native American beliefs and cultural norms will love this first offering by Marchman.
The Mender: Book 1 of The Mender Trilogy
Eva is a Mender, a fixer of time. She travels to “shadow” timelines, bringing them in line with the “one true timeline,” a line where Germany won World War II. Now her mission is in Texas, in March 1836, but something is off, as she’s arrived several months early. When she meets Jim, a white man raised by Comanches, she is alarmed to see how real he is. He is supposed to be just a shadow, not a feeling human being, and he’s making it hard for her to maintain her people’s vows of celibacy. Then Jim’s friend Pump astonishes her even more when he reveals a secret that only she can understand.
This is the first book in The Mender Trilogy. Jennifer Marchman has created an intricately woven story, as complex as the quantum strings Eva pulls to move through time. The method of time travel is fascinating and based on string theory. The history of Texas, or what would eventually be Texas, is well researched. Every author of a time travel novel must set rules of travel, and what the author has done here is layer many rules, with the reader soon realizing that only some of them are true. It is an intriguing development, as we discover the truths and deceptions along with Eva. The research into Jim’s part of the story is well done, with Comanche customs, culture, and language added throughout. The racism and brutality of life at that time and the poor treatment of women are realistic and true to the period. The characters’ honesty about their own flaws is touching and compelling. This is a captivating and bold combination of time travel, Texas history, and romance that will leave the reader wanting more.
A lost time traveler, a Comanche warrior, and their love across clashing worlds.
As the multiverse threatens to spiral out of control, only a Mender can hold the chaos at bay… at least, that’s what Eva’s been taught to believe. She’s dedicated her life to merging the world’s reality, one shattered universe at a time — but she can’t do that while stranded in 1835 Texas.
Injured and separated from her mission partner, Eva must find a way home. And there’s another problem: the handsome young farmer, Jim, who rescued her. If she’s not careful, he may have her questioning everything she’s ever believed.
Jim, a former Comanche captive, has been forced to return to Anglo society as an adult. A man of his word, he aims to keep a promise to an old friend even while he struggles to find acceptance within Austin’s colony of San Felipe. But first, he must come to terms with his violent past and the things he did to survive.
The Mender invites readers on an epic journey through the rough and tumble world of pre-revolutionary Texas, where nothing is simply black and white.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “It drew me in so fast. This was honestly a breath of fresh air. The whole book gave me so many brain tingles.”
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “Lots of twists and turns, add some romance, and WOW.”
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “It’s a remarkable, absorbing, poignant, and evocative read.”
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “This is an interesting read with cross-genre appeal. There’s history, time travel, romance, and even a good dose of Wild West drama.”
[Hey there! Jennifer here. I’m going to break with the usual convention and write to you, my potential reader, directly.
You’re probably wondering, what the heck genre is this book? Is it a Romance? A Western? Sci-Fi?
Well, if I had to put a percentage on it, I’d say it’s 80% Historical Fiction with a time travel/alternate timeline twist. It’s not so much about the time travel itself (though that’s pretty cool), but rather an opportunity to explore metaphysical questions and different cultural perspectives by juxtaposing characters from vastly different worlds.
I take historical accuracy seriously, especially regarding depictions of Comanche characters and Anglo captives. I consulted with the Comanche Museum’s Cultural Specialist in Lawton, OK, and a Comanche tribal member read my manuscript twice.
And yes, while there is action, adventure, and a slow-burn-to-steamy romantic subplot, if you’re looking for a light, formulaic read where the hero and heroine are flawed in cute ways that aren’t really flaws, this isn’t it.
But if you’re looking for something a little different, something that’ll make you think, maybe question your own assumptions, and will have you on the edge of your seat by the end, then this is the book for you.
Please Note: The Mender is Book One of a traditional trilogy with a “to be continued” ending.]