In Kevin Ansbro’s remarkable new novel, In the Shadow of Time, we’re transported from England in 2020 in a time machine to Mexico in 1970. Along with us are Hugo (a British assassin “with a heart”), Sofia – a Russian physicist, her Siamese cat (Copernicus), and Hugo’s Irish friend, Vincent. Hugo and Vincent have no problem leaving the COVID-ridden world and adapting to a life which had already been comfortably inhabited by Sofia. They are befriended by Gerardo, a musician, and his son, Pablo, an artist. While Hugo—now a Robin Hood of sorts—gives himself one last mission: to rid the world of an especially unsavory sort – Rubén Cuevas. The only problem – it’s not his time to die. Another narrative thread is braided into the Mexican one: in the Silkeborg Forest, we discover how Hugo lost his parents at a young age, and we meet another central character, Luna. Ansbro deftly connects Hugo’s and Luna’s past. These are but a few of the plot points and characters. Hugo’s mother tells him in his brief and other-worldly visit: “The universe sometimes throws together a unique collection of interactions…” That’s exactly what Kevin Ansbro has done for us. He does so in a sometimes comedic and often playfully poetic way.
Magic Realism has always been my favorite literary genre. Who can refuse a bit of magic stirred into the soup of everyday living? I’m always on the lookout for magic and I sure found it in this novel. It’s where you’d normally find it in the narrative: time travel to various decades to different parts of the globe. The intriguing teenager, Luna, while raised in Denmark, is clearly from somewhere off-planet. She floats and dazzles others with her brilliance. The novel includes falling-in-love stories of three different couples. Certainly their connections are magical. Their attraction to each other, as well as their compassion for their friends, is pitted against a couple nefarious characters, which lends its own sort of magic.