A Tale of Time City
by Diana Wynne Jones
The heroine of this story is an eleven-year-old British girl from the year 1939, who, while being evacuated by train from the bombing of London, is kidnapped (gas mask and all) by a couple of boys from the timeless city of Time City.
Time City sits astride history, accepting students from all the "stable eras" and trying to keep the Unstable Eras (like ours) from getting too unstable. Now something is going wrong; something is causing history to go kerflooey all over the place; and the boys have overheard from their important Time City fathers that a girl named Vivian Smith has something to do with it. Which is why they've kidnapped Vivian and brought her home with them. They think she's the wife in the couple of city founders who are supposed to return and save the city as it comes to the end of another lap around history.
But Vivian is just a normal 1939 girl, who has no knowledge of Time City affairs, so the boys pretend she's their cousin Vivian Lee whose parents are observers stationed in the 20th century, and that she has been sent back to Time City for safety reasons while the century undergoes violent changes. Meanwhile they keep trying to catch whoever it is that is stealing the "polarities of time" that are hidden in special places throughout history and guarded by spectral guardians.
In the end it's not entirely clear whether the kids have been saving history or destroying it (though not on purpose), but they definitely end up playing a role in saving Time City. The ending of the story is surprisingly unlike the usual "heroes decorated by royalty in a ticker-tape parade" ending-they end up on trial! But what happens in between is so full of intrigue, suspense, surprise, and charm that I predict you would enjoy it anyway.
Recommended Age: 14+
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