As Ruby Red begins, Gwen Shepherd is just an ordinary 16-year-old living in London with her mother, brother and sister and her eccentric extended family in a “posh” house full of paintings and antique furniture. She attends St. Lennox High School with her best friend, Lesley.

But on closer inspection, “ordinary” may not be exactly the right word to describe Gwen. First, she just happens to be able to see and converse with James, a young local ghost. (“Like so many ghosts, he refused to accept that he wasn’t alive anymore.”) Second, although the family tradition predicts that her cousin Charlotte is meant to be the special one, destined for magic, something extraordinary is about to happen to Gwen.

One day in the school cafeteria, Gwen finds herself overcome by the strangest sensation: a dizzying feeling, a bit like swooping down from the top on a roller coaster ride. And suddenly she finds herself transported to the past. As Gwen discovers, it is she—not Charlotte—who has inherited the time-travel gene that runs through her family lineage.

Gwen has a lot of ground to make up. She must learn the rules of time travel—and fast, too—because Gwen and her time-traveling counterpart, a boy named Gideon, are at the center of a desperate quest to track all the previous time travelers to close the Circle so that the Secret of the Twelve will be revealed.

An enormous success in Germany where it was first published (the English version has been translated by Anthea Bell), Ruby Red ends on a cliffhanger, with many of its mysteries unresolved. Teen readers will be eager to find out what happens to Gwen and Gideon in their next adventures, to be revealed in the second book of the trilogy, Sapphire Blue, followed by Emerald Green.

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