Ruby Red is the first installment in the three-book Ruby Red series by German author, Kerstin Gier. The series was such a success in Germany that it was immediately translated to English, becoming an international hit in the mid-2000’s. Fun fact: there was also a German movie adaption! We’ve been meaning to get our hands on it (with English dubbing or subtitles). If you’ve read the series or seen the movie, let us know down below.
Claire first read the series in high school circa 2013 and Christy read them around then too! We were immediately intrigued by the time travel concept. The series follows British teen, Gwyneth, who (unexpectedly) has the gene for time travel.
Gwyneth was never meant to have the time travel gene. Her cousin, the prim and proper, Charlotte had been primed for the role since birth— learning etiquette, ballroom dancing, and world history. Gwyneth had settled for being the mediocre grandchild. But one night, she accidentally travels to 18th century London, where she sees her doppelgänger kissing a boy she’s never met at a ball, and her life changes forever.
She’s thrown into her family’s secret time travel society, the Circle of Twelve, and discovers she is the last of the time travelers, meant to fulfill a grand prophecy dating back centuries. With her new ability comes a new training partner, the ever-annoying and handsome Gideon, who bares a striking resemblance to the mystery man from the ball.
Soon Gwyneth learns that her role is to travel back in time with Gideon to collect the blood of travelers who came before them. Only with the blood of all twelve time travelers can the chronograph, the mysterious device the society uses to travel in time, can the prophecy be fulfilled. Except, the original chronograph was mysteriously stolen sixteen years ago by numbers eight and nine. When Gideon and Gwyneth set off on their mission, they learn that the society may not be what it appears and that they have sinister plans in store for the duo. Will Gideon and Gwyneth be able to piece together what their prophecy really means, or will they become the pawns of the Circle of Twelve ?
We remember loving the concept of this series! Back in 2013 there were not many YA series about time travel, and being history buffs, we were super intrigued. We loved traveling back in time with Gwen and Gideon, particularly since most of the places were in England— aka one of our favorite countries. Leslie, Gwen’s best friend, was a delight and we enjoyed their friendship. To be honest, we didn’t remember much about the rest of the characters, other than Gideon and Charlotte. First, we remember Charlotte being a witch with a capital W. Gideon was the usual dreamy male love interest, but he definitely left an impression with his steely glare and quick wit. We’re excited to see if their romance lives up to the original hype, because we LOVED this couple back in the day.
Okay, so we definitely enjoyed this book the second go-around! We appreciated that Gwen was not your stereotypical YA heroine, and that when she was thrown into this foreign situation she did not panic and whine uncontrollably. We also forgot this book was so detail heavy! Understandably so— time travel and secret societies are complicated. We had to do mental Olympics to keep track of the rules, family lineages, etc. But, even though there were a lot of details, the world building was still excellent and we were sucked into the plot. Once Gwen begins traveling back in time with Gideon, the story definitely picks up and the plot becomes very fast paced. The time travel premise was still so enjoyable and Gier definitely put a lot of thought into the plot//history. The secret society was still sketch, and we don’t want to spoil anything, but the plot twist about Gwen’s lineage definitely made more sense this time around.
Also, completely random, but did anyone else who read this book think that Gideon and Gwen were possibly related?! During our first read, the thought of them being related hadn’t even occurred to us. But during this read, we paid more attention to the family trees and definitely had a mini-freak out about it. After a lot of googling, we can definitely say they are not related. Perhaps distantly related, but not enough to be concerning?! In case anyone was wondering…
Now onto characters! Charlotte was still the worst. We get that Gwen kind of stole her destiny, but my gosh— get over it! We vaguely remember her getting better in the later books, so hopefully that remains the case. Gideon was still swoon worthy. This is going to sound stupid, but we forgot he has longer hair (like just above shoulder length). We dug his aesthetic. He was skeptical of his new partnership with Gwen, and could be a jerk at times, but we still enjoyed his character development. There were definitely some misjudgments on both their parts (Gwen thinks Gideon is in love with Charlotte; Gideon thinks Gwen is a stereotypical teenager that chases after boys and likes gossiping in the school yard), but we were glad they started to see eye-to-eye toward the end of the first installment. Their banter was still great and now that we’re older, we were able to pick up on little nuances. For example, when they bickered we caught that Gideon secretly enjoyed it and was coming to terms with how he had misjudged Gwen. Their chemistry was palpable and we can’t wait to re-read the other two books and see their relationship grow.
In 2013, Christy gave the book 5 stars and Claire gave it 4. Today, we’d still give this book an average of 4.5 stars! Though the story is detail-heavy, it was never an info-dump, and we still loved the world building and romance. We are definitely going to re-read the rest of the series!