Book Review: “Passenger” by Alexandra Bracken

***Warning: This review contains spoilers. If you wish to not know what goes on throughout this book, read the synopsis and don’t read any other part of this review.***


passage, n.
i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes.
ii. A journey by water; a voyage.
iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time.

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them— whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are play­ing, treacherous forces threaten to sep­arate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home . . . forever.”


Etta Spencer: Etta is a seventeen year old girl from modern day. She is strong, independent, and a violonist.

Nicholas Ironwood: he is a sailor from the year 1776 (at least when he meets Etta) and he is in his early twenties, if not twenty years old. He is very guarded, but he is fascinated by Etta, which is why he agrees to help her find the object that Cyrus Ironwood wants (at least that’s part of the reason).

Rose Spencer (Linden): she is Etta’s mother. She is a traveler who hid this object from Cyrus Ironwood and ran. She has always been very cold and distant to her daughter, only telling her stories about her adventurous life as she is growing up. This is actually why Etta refers to her as “Rose” instead of “Mom”. She is very cautious and secretive.

Alice: she is Etta’s violin instructor, but it is later revealed that she is a guardian and knows about the time travel. She is killed right before a young Ironwood traveler shoves Etta through a passage.

Cyrus Ironwood: he is the head of all the time travel really. He dictates what times you can go to. He is the judge, jury, and executioner. He is manipulative, cold, calculating, and ruthless. He wants this object brought to him that will not only read passages of time, but has the ability to create new ones. He takes Rose hostage in order to force Etta to go find the object and makes a deal with Nicholas to make sure that the object makes it back to Cyrus.


Just a warning: This section is very brief and I skim by a lot of events that happen because there was so much that happened.

So the story starts out with Etta getting the earrings from Rose (I actually felt that Etta calling her Rose instead of Mom was really fitting because of how cold and distant Rose is to Etta). Then she ends up going to the debut, hears the argument between her violin instructor and Rose, and does the debut. She runs off stage after hearing this sound and this girl drags her off to it.

Alice is shot and the girl shoves Etta through a passage and they end up on this ship in 1776. So it turns out that the girl’s name is Sophia Ironwood and she starts telling Etta exactly what to do (I was very frustrated and angry throughout the entire book at Sophia; I just really hated her character). Etta, of course, does the exact opposite of what Sophia tells her to do, which is what made me instantly love Etta’s character.

So she ends up having dinner with the other sailors. One makes a comment about Nicholas’ skin color and she yells at the man and storms off. Nicholas and her have this nice little chat and she tells him about how Sophia kidnapped her. He told her that he would get her away from the Ironwoods if she was in danger.

So they end up finally meeting Ironwood in New York City and he tells Etta she has to go find this object that can read the passages (he leaves out the part about it being able to create passages as well) called an astrolabe and bring it back to him or he will kill Rose. (His men captured her) After Etta leaves, he makes a deal with Nicholas. Nicholas has to make sure that object makes it back to him and he will give him all this fortune and land. He accepts, goes out, sees Etta making a run for it and follow her into a passage.

He tells her that he will help her find the astrolabe. She believes him and they discover that they landed in London in 1940 during World War I, I believe. They meet a young Alice and she directs them where to go to find the passage. They discover they are being tailed by Thorns, a rebellious group who are hunting the astrolabe as well.

They end up going underground because bombs are being dropped. In the shelter, they have this nice little kissy moment and I loved it. A few hours later, they find the passage, jump through (after escaping the Thorns once again), and they end up in Angkor, Cambodia in 1685. They’re there for a bit and there’s a lot of history mentioned through this portion of the story. There’s history throughout the entire novel, but in this section especially.

So Etta ends up kissing him and they have a little makeout session (I was screaming, “YES! FINALLY!” during that scene.) before they go to find the passage. They go through and end up in Paris, France in 1880. When Etta starts thinking about it, she realizes that there were two passages and they went through the wrong one. So they go back, jump through the passage and find the other one.

They end up in Damascus in 1599. They are actually in an old Linden home and she meets her great uncle, I think. I’m not sure. He has called her his niece and his cousin both. But he helps them (that night I am fairly certain Nicholas and her do the you know.) And then they go to the market, Etta sees a twenty year old version of Rose and runs after her (Rose throws a dagger at her) and then a bunch of Thorns come after her and ends up stabbing Nicholas.

A few nights later, he has her come in and he tells her about the deal. She doesn’t freak out, actually. She just shrugs it off. But then that night she is kidnapped by none other than Sophia Ironwood. This is the point where my hatred for this bitch starts to really fester and grow. So Nicholas figure it out and then we switch back over to Etta’s POV and she rides with the Thorns and Sophia (who doesn’t realize they aren’t guardians; they’re Thorns).

Etta stupidly tells Sophia and the Thorns exactly what the thing can do and they eventually find it and then all hell breaks loose. So Sophia and Etta are tied up and Nicholas comes charging in and shoots. It misses the Thorn holding a knife to Etta and hits her shoulder. She pretty much ignores the pain and then Sophia tells the Thorns that she’s valuable and to leave Etta and Nicholas to die in the desert. So they do that and Etta unties herself and then kisses Nicholas and tries to untie his before she fianlly realizes she’s been shot and has been bleeding this entire time and her eyes sort of go blank and then she disappears into gold dust.

Nicholas is screaming and crying and then Rose shows up, revealing that she escaped a day after being captured and just orchestrated all of this to make sure Etta did what she wanted. She reveals that Etta isn’t really dead. She was just pushed back to the last time she made a mark on a passage, I believe, and then she said that probably happened to Julian as well.

She drops the bomb that this guy Henry, the leader of the Thorns, is Etta’s father. She also says that she killed Alice. I wanted to kill this bitch once she revealed all of that. How could she manipulate and use her daughter as a pawn like that? It just baffled me. But then she tells Nicholas to find the astrolabe and destroy it then find Etta. And then in a month they’ll meet. She is going to find out what’s going on with Etta’s timeline and then she leaves after giving him some vital supplies like a horse and some food and water.

Then Etta’s great Uncle (I forgot to mention that his name is Hasan) takes him to this tribe who has “something of his”. It turns out to be a beaten and cut up Sophia. She does not have the astrolabe, obviously, so the book ends with Nicholas saying, “Look lively. We’ve a journey to make.” And I just wanted more. I am highly anticipating the next book, Wayfarer.


I just wanted to really quick discuss this complex and confusing form of time travel. It is very unique and unlike anything that I have ever read or watched. Basically you have these passages which you can locate by playing the G-Note on any sort of musical instrument (like a harmonica), but the catch with this method is you can only go back on the day you are in your era. So if it is February 2 in your time, it would be February 2 when you jump back in time, but in a different year, obviously. And the passages are all over the place and you don’t know where they are or where/when in time that passage goes to. You also can’t go to a passage where you have been, like your past self because you can’t run into your past self. The passage won’t let you pass through it if you’ve been there.

My Theories:

So the next book is obviously going to be about Nicholas finding and destroying the astrolabe and finding Etta and possibly Julian. So Rose told Nicholas that someone from the future told her how everything would play out unless she did things to stop it. Who do you think it is? Personally, I think that its either Nicholas (unlikely, even though that’s where my thoughts jumped to as soon as she said it) or Etta herself. Or maybe someone else. I don’t know. Everything at the end sort of got confused and jumbled up in my brain.

My Thoughts:

Overall, I thought this book was sort of slow in the beginning, but at the same time not (I know that doesn’t make sense, but it does to me, so we’re going with it), but once it really got going, I was flying through this book, specifically when Nicholas and Etta are in the Cambodia passage. The last two hundred and fifty pages or so were the ones where everything seemed to be happening and when I was truly on board with Etta and Nicholas’ characters and their relationship. My favorite time passage was definitely the 1776 one and my favorite scene was when Etta was eating and talking with the crew and she defends Nicholas about his skin color. I just really thought that was a great scene and it caused me to really start loving Etta. You all should let me know down in the comments what your favorite passage and scene was. I would give this a 4.5/5 hearts.

4.5 hearts

Thank you all so much for reading this, and I would love to know your thoughts on Passenger, so you should comment with your thoughts and theories as to what will be happening in Wayfarer.

Love You All to Luna and Back,




3 thoughts on “Book Review: “Passenger” by Alexandra Bracken

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