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With her trademark understated, eloquent style, Willis expands the conceit of her Hugo and Nebula winning 1982 story "Fire Watch" into a page-turning thriller, her first novel since 2001's Passage. Three young historians travel from 2060 to early 1940s Britain for firsthand research. As Eileen handles a measles outbreak during the children's evacuation and Polly struggles to work as a London shopgirl, hints of trouble with the time-travel equipment barely register on their radar. Historians aren't supposed to be able to change the course of history, but Mike's actions at Dunkirk may disrupt both the past and the future. Willis uses detail and period language exquisitely well, creating an engaging, exciting tale that cuts off abruptly on the last page. Readers allergic to cliffhangers may want to wait until the second volume comes out in November 2010. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
*Starred Review* The British home front during World War II is the focus of Willis' third time-travel tale, which follows, in alternating narratives, the experiences of three researchers from 2060 Oxford. Eileen is studying the effects of evacuation on London's children by serving as a maid at a country manor, where she encounters some really bratty children and is quarantined because of a measles outbreak. Polly finds work as a London shop girl to observe how people behave while sheltering from the Blitz in basements and tube stations; she barely escapes a bomb herself. Mike, masquerading as an American reporter, watches the small boats evacuating the British army from Dunkirk but is dropped miles away from his destination of Dover and ends up at Dunkirk a divergence point that could alter events. All three experience some slippage in passing through time and discover that their ways back to the twenty-first century don't open. Each struggles to find the other two, for together they may figure out a solution. On par with Doomsday Book (1992), Blackout depicts the times and the spirit of the British people remarkably vividly, and bits of comic relief leaven any somberness. Characterizations of the historians and the Brits they become close to are multifaceted and believable, and the ending leaves us keenly primed for the sequel, scheduled for November 2010 publication.--Estes, Sally Copyright 2010 Booklist