Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book
Rate this book
The tenth book in the bestselling Chronicles of St Mary's series which follows a group of tea-soaked disaster magnets as they hurtle their way around History. If you love Jasper Fforde or Ben Aaronovitch, you won't be able to resist Jodi Taylor.

You can't change History. History doesn't like it. There are always consequences.

Max is no stranger to taking matters into her own hands. Especially when she's had A Brilliant Idea. Yes, it will mean breaking a few rules, but - as Max always says - they're not her rules.

Seconded to the Time Police to join in the hunt for the renegade Clive Ronan, Max is a long way from St Mary's. But life in the future does have its plus points - although not for long.

A problem with the Time Map reveals chaos in the 16th century and the wrong Tudor queen on the throne. History has gone rogue, there's a St Mary's team right in the firing line and Max must step up.

You know what they say. Hope for the best. But plan for the worst.

430 pages, Kindle Edition

First published April 25, 2019

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Jodi Taylor

61 books4,302 followers
Jodi Taylor is the internationally bestselling author of the Chronicles of St Mary's series, the story of a bunch of disaster prone individuals who investigate major historical events in contemporary time. Do NOT call it time travel! She is also the author of the Time Police series - a St Mary's spinoff and gateway into the world of an all-powerful, international organisation who are NOTHING like St Mary's. Except, when they are.

Alongside these, Jodi is known for her gripping supernatural thrillers featuring Elizabeth Cage together with the enchanting Frogmorton Farm series - a fairy story for adults.

Born in Bristol and now living in Gloucester (facts both cities vigorously deny), she spent many years with her head somewhere else, much to the dismay of family, teachers and employers, before finally deciding to put all that daydreaming to good use and write a novel. Over twenty books later, she still has no idea what she wants to do when she grows up.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
3,584 (62%)
4 stars
1,807 (31%)
3 stars
340 (5%)
2 stars
40 (<1%)
1 star
6 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 496 reviews
Profile Image for Robin (Bridge Four).
1,574 reviews1,462 followers
August 14, 2019

Buddy Read 25Apr19

These books are a crack up for me. You would think by book 10 with some many short stories in-between that I’d start getting bored with them, but you’d be wrong, wrong, wrong. Every time I’m with the crew at St. Mary’s I have the best time. I’ve grown to love all the characters and their quirks like they are family. Max is so much fun and even in a crisis she can see the bright side and get a laugh or two out of me.

With trips to the crustaceous period, the 16th Century, the land of Kush (Egypt adjacent), the future with the Time Police and a St. Mary’s of the future as well there is something to always be entertained by. I usually learn something about a historical time I’m not familiar with in a very fun and interesting way. That is one great thing about these stories. But the other is just hanging out with Max and all the trouble she is bound to get into.

The other beautiful thing is Max and Leon together. I love that they are like a real couple and have some problems at times and a real kind of marriage with real difficulties. Like Leon was hurt extremely badly in a prior book and is having some trouble in the bedroom. I like how this has been handled in the series and that it never changed the love and devotion that the two characters feel towards each other.
There’s a kind of literary tradition that after a prolonged absence, the hero and heroine fall romantically into each other’s arms and indulge in three pages of athletic sex – gruelling for both reader and participants alike. You might want to brace yourself for disappointment. Firstly, because Leon hadn’t been well for some time which meant . . . well, you know. And secondly because Markham jammed a gun in the back of my neck and tried to shoot me. Some days I don’t know why I bother to get out of bed.

Ronan is out in the word causing havoc and Matthew, Max and Leon’s son is living in the future with the time police for his protection at the moment. Max has a brilliant plan to finally get Ronan out of their lives and of course it is dangerous and has a ton of moving parts and involves a really shady sex club owner, the time police and a trip to the Crustaceous period with dinosaurs so what could possibly go wrong. There are also Dodo’s as a cherry on top. How many books have you read with a sex club and Dodos?
” You will want to be careful what you leave within beaking range. Hillary, they tell me, is particularly fond of hard-boiled eggs.’
‘Isn’t that like some form of cannibalism for them?’
She nodded. ‘Eating one’s young.’
‘Eating one’s young is a hugely underestimated weapon in the parental arsenal.’

The humor in this is fantastic as always and I devoured it in like a day. Max and her sense of humor is fantastic and I always love the dialogue in every story. Especially when she is talking to the bad guys.
‘Let us all think carefully. Who here has the least value? Who has annoyed me the most?’ He turned to face me. ‘Who is in need of a much-deserved lesson?’
‘No idea,’ I said.
‘Oh, I think you do.’
‘Well, yes, I do, but I thought it would be rude to point out it’s you. Not in front of your men. Although it would be good to stop you talking before everyone dies of boredom.’

Time travel books usually don’t work for me, but the rules of this world and how it is set up totally works and I really love the world we are in. The episodic nature of some of the trips within the book is usually fun and then there are the overlaying story arcs that carry from book to book that almost always win in my opinion.

Jodi Taylor has put out another fantastic look into the crazy lives of the Historians of St. Mary’s and I can’t wait for the next adventure for Max and crew. Also I want to say how much I love the character summaries in the beginning of the book of all the characters that we are going to see in this book. It is a fantastic way to know what we should remember from the last books and they in themselves are witty, smart and usually pretty funny. I read them both before I started and after I finished and I bow down to Jodi Taylor’s writing in them. Well done again.
Profile Image for Sara.
1,035 reviews348 followers
May 14, 2019
The latest instalment of the St Mary’s series is full of the usual capers with Max and co. through time, although the setting changes somewhat as we see Max seconded to the Time Police on a secret mission to finally bring down Clive Ronan.

As usual, I love historical aspects of this, this time ranging from Mary Tudor England (that somehow goes horribly wrong, of course), to the future, and everywhere in between. Max spends a lot of time with the wonderful teenagers Adrian and Mikey in this one too, and they bring a great amount of dynamic energy to the story (with a hint of the mysterious subtlety mentioned at the end). I missed the pairing up of Max and Peterson quite a bit though, as well as Markham. For a lot of the novel Max is predominantly out on her own or with the Time Police and I did feel like there was just something missing in terms of the friendly banter and dialogue I’ve become accustomed to with the St Mary’s gang.

I also found this suffers a little in the same way the early books did in that plots are picked up and dropped quite abruptly without fully explaining the reasonings behind it. We have the overall plot of Max looking to capture Ronan, but the smaller plots just peter out - such as the whole issue around changing time, the ‘mist’, Matthew’s ‘special abilities’ and what exactly happened and why. There’s hints that they’re looking further into the problems, but no satisfactory conclusions.

As always, I do love the St Mary’s series. I know what I’m getting with the stories, and I enjoy the insight into areas of history I might not have thought twice about. It’s not my favourite in the series, but highly entertaining nonetheless.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books3,846 followers
April 30, 2019
I think it's safe to say that Taylor has done it again. Not MAX doing it again, per se, but for writing a great SF time-travel hijinx novel, the WRITER has done it again. :)

My goodness. Max taking herself into Mastermind territory? Oh, WHAT COULD GO WRONG, indeed? lol

I admit I'm a huge fan of big heist-type novels and this one gives us all the attempted makings of one. Max even GETS PERMISSION to run such an ill-conceived notion against her arch-enemy. Will wonders never cease?

Of course, things go wrong. They always go wrong. History department or FAR off the History department's tracks, I was consistently amazed at the lengths that Max went. From start to finish, I think this one might be one of my favorites in the series.

Sure, there isn't so much involvement with the old characters so much, but that is to be expected, being on the run and all. :)

So? Bravo! Totally entertaining. :)
Profile Image for Richard Derus.
2,855 reviews1,885 followers
April 28, 2019
Don't look at the Kindlenotes marked as spoilers. Really. Don't.

After I've recovered my sanity, I will attempt to review this tenth volume of the Chronicles of St Mary's.

This could take a while. Not least because I need to speak to my therapist about my intense, volcanic rage at the misuse of "pouring" instead of "poring" throughout the book.
Profile Image for Trish.
1,847 reviews3,363 followers
April 30, 2019
It's that time of the year where I make myself some tea and enjoy a bit of timey wimey stuff. Yep, it's St. Mary's time again and this time, the disaster magnets have their hands full.

Max, Leon and their son Matthew have worked out a weird form of routine what with the boy still living with the time police until his parents can finally catch Clive Ronan. In order to speed things along, Max has an idea. We all know how that usually goes. However, both Mrs. Partridge and Dr. Bairstow seem to think it is indeed the right thing to do (there must have been some accident with a chemical agent used by R&D) and so off Max goes to work for the Time Police for a while.
A trap is set, things go wrong, some more things go wrong, some hilarity ensues in between, there is the kettle-shaped pod again, and then the Time Police does as the Time Police must.

As I mentioned in my previous reviews, I've stopped caring about Max. No idea if it's the author or demands from the publisher, but the way Max has developed (and several other memebers of St. Mary's with her) - namely that the word "love" doesn't seem to mean anything and that they all act as if losing your partner meant nothing and you should simply go off and get a replacement as soon as possible - doesn't sit right with me at all. Especially when considering how big St. Mary's is on the sense of family.
Deaths hardly mean anything at all (it reminds me of superhero comics where they also drop like flies but then the universes get rebooted and it's no biggie).
Maybe some people actually like this kind of shit (just look around, you see plenty of people doing exactly that in real life even if their partners don't die) but we're talking about supposedly good and honourable people who truly care about one another and those would not just turn on the spot to get some fresh meat.
Thus, it turned out to be a good philosophy not to care about the interpersonal relationships anymore or I would have gotten quite angry in this book again.

That is not to say that I don't care about any of the characters anymore. Dr. Bairstow is still THE BEST and I'm always here for some R&D fun. ;)

Fortunately we don't spend too much time on the aforementioned issue. Instead, we get plenty of action here when we jump to 16th century England to make sure the right queen sits on the throne

as well as the Cretaceous period where we are trying to make sure only the right people are eaten by a T-rex

and Kush, which used to be part of Ancient Egypt, where we mostly run from camels. *lol*

And all this just to lure and apprehend Clive Ronan once and for all.

In between, we get more of the politics of this world and learn of the difficulty of operating on different time lines, not to mention having to watch out for whatever those bloody time-travelling tourists are up to again (the map the Time Police has was seriously impressive).
And then there is Matthew showing some serious skills!

I must admit that I missed the action and, most of all, the history side of the time jumps. While the latter still was missing mostly here, we at least got non-stop action and plans within plans within plans, kind of like a Matryoshka.

The best bit certainly was Dr. Bairstow showing why he's the boss and that nobody better mess with him or his people. It was about time the lion roared again, so to speak. ;)

So after me needing a break and almost giving up on the series (who would have thought considering how much I used to love it!), this was a breath of fresh air and it's shaping up to be getting really good again, which makes me very happy. I even shed a tear in the end.

As always, Zara Ramm was perfect in her narration of the madcap romp through space and time. I really can't imagine reading these books without her voice in my head anymore.
Profile Image for Steven.
1,047 reviews384 followers
May 3, 2019



Huh, that makes me feel like A.I.D.A.N.
Profile Image for Kitty G Books.
1,544 reviews2,931 followers
April 30, 2019
As always, another very solid story in the world of the St Mary's disaster-magnets.
Max is the forefront of this story once more and this time she is working with the Time Police to bring down an old enemy and also to reunite with her family member (that the Time Police have). I don't want to go into too many specifics here as this is book number 10 in the series, and I thoroughly recommend all of them, but honestly the silly hilarity, quick wit, and charm of the characters; the adventure and the British humour all work as brilliantly as ever. I also have to say I liked seeing the two teens and their Teapot pod more in this book. I think we didn't really know them all that well until this instalment and I feel like we got to know them better here.
One final note, the last few sentence of the book probably made me smile and laugh more than any others. I cannot wait to continue following these characters :)
Overall, a very very good story and I certainly will continue to recommend it to everyone :) 4*s
Profile Image for Sian Bradshaw.
230 reviews4 followers
April 9, 2019
I got hold of a pre-release copy after going to a signing and consumed it that day. This is a great a book as ever. It continues the story but in a new way. There are some interesting new characters, both loveable and dastardly and some old ones we thought we'd seen the back of.

The nearest I will get to a spoiler is to say what the great Jodi Taylor said at the signing - This is not the last book.
Profile Image for Vintage.
2,351 reviews402 followers
March 4, 2021
Another solid contribution.

Max is, shock, working with the Time Police and gets to hang out with Mathew a little.

Some finagling with history here with the alternate universe Nine Day Queen, Lady Jane Grey, rampaging with Protestant fire through 16th century England.

Cretaceous period, dodos, Egypt and bad guys don't mix well.
Profile Image for Emma.
2,385 reviews810 followers
July 19, 2019
I’m such a fan of this author and this series. There is a major plan in this book involving many different people so of course it all goes horribly wrong.
Profile Image for Marjolein (UrlPhantomhive).
2,360 reviews50 followers
July 11, 2020
Read all my reviews on http://urlphantomhive.booklikes.com

I was really Hoping for the Best, since this is one of my favorite series and I truly love the disaster magnets, but especially in the last couple of books, I have not liked all the decisions the series is going.

This one is about Ronan. Again. And while I liked to be back at St. Mary's (and didn't even mind the Time Police as much as I used to), this story lines starts to feel as if it will never end. Literally. With all the jumping around the time line. However, the characters were still great and it made a nice light read.

They say Hope for the Best but Plan for the Worst, so what will come in #11?
Profile Image for Fern Adams.
777 reviews44 followers
April 23, 2021
Jodi Taylor’s writing is as amazing, hilarious, heart wrenching and just as genius as always and keeps you on your toes right up until the final word. I’ve now learned though never to start one of these books without having nothing else for the rest of the day as I know I won’t move until I reach the end come any plan, unexpected disaster or anything else!
Profile Image for Charlie.
784 reviews148 followers
September 7, 2021
Absolutely spectacular! This is probably my favourite in the series so far, it was just outstanding!

Exciting adventures notwithstanding, the real gem of this book has to be the final chapter. That altercation with the Time Police was just phenomenal and my heart was racing the whole time.

Needless to say, the Tome Police are now enemy #1 for St Mary's, I hope the whole rotten lot of them meet a very sticky end. That includes Matthew Ellis, who was just going to let it happen, he was going to help the TP kidnap Matthew. I never would have thought it of him, but he made his choice.

I've become so invested in this series, I'm so excited for book 11!
Profile Image for Tobey.
337 reviews15 followers
June 8, 2019
So this book...nay, this series...I have no words. It makes your head hurt. You know it does and for those of you that have read it, I can see you nodding your head as you read this. But it doesn't just make your head hurt, it makes you laugh and laugh heartily and out loud. It makes you cry in sadness, anger and joy. It frustrates you and makes you happy and I cannot express how much I love and enjoy this series. I highly, highly recommend this to anyone who hasn't yet read it.

But wait, I don't suggest starting with this first book, no no. If you did, your head would hurt even which I don't think is the author's intention, it's just the nature of the beast. I suggest starting with Book 1, The Very First Damned Thing. So stop reading this review, I'm almost done anyways, and download it, run to the store, order it online or whatever you need to do so you can read this series.
Profile Image for Emma Flanagan.
130 reviews46 followers
May 26, 2019
Suitably St Mary’s but this is the second book in a row where Max has spent the majority of the time away from St Mary’s. The books are more fun when we have the full complement of cast running amok through history. Also seriously can we wrap up the Clive Ronan storyline. It’s time for a new big bad.
Profile Image for Kévin.
109 reviews30 followers
January 27, 2023
Although the ending was one of the best, the rest of the book wasn't as enjoyable as usual. It's my least favourite entry thus far.
Profile Image for Wing Kee.
2,091 reviews36 followers
August 30, 2019
More Clive makes this more same old in a bad way.

World: The world building is solid, the pieces of history we see this time are great but it seems we are starting to spin our wheels and going to places we've been to...

Story: Clive again...when will this end. Yes the story is still enjoyable and fun and quirky but it's not moved forward for a while now and it's starting to be stagnant. Conan Doyle was right when he ended Moriarty after one story, we've had Ronin for 10 now, this needs to stop. I don't really care about all the other good stuff if it's the same story again and again, please be more creative next book...this is becoming the CSI of time travel books.

Characters: The characters are fun and the banter is always great but there has been no forward moment for a while now. We get a bit of Mom Mode Max but then we get Ronin and Ronin and Ronin.

Disappointing that it's the same stuff again and again.

Onward to the next book!
Profile Image for flajol.
467 reviews13 followers
May 1, 2019
Holy Hannah. My heart is still racing from that ending. How am I going to get to sleep now? How long until the next book?

I read this on a Kindle, and after the last page I got an advert for Taylor's new series featuring the Time Police. Is it about how they all die in horrible ways because they are horrible people who deserve to die horribly? Is it? IS IT? Even if it isn't, you know I'll read it anyway, because at this point I'd be prepared to read Jodi Taylor's shopping lists.
Profile Image for John.
730 reviews23 followers
August 3, 2020
Although this book could feasibly be read as a standalone, I wouldn't recommend it. With nine previous books and a number of short-stories, it is becoming almost impossible to cover the major details in all the previous works. I would imagine if you are nearing this book to read, there is not much I can give you regarding the series background that you don't already know.

This book continues the adventures of Madeline "Max" Maxwell, historian and time traveler of St. Mary's. Max has conceived of the perfect plan to capture her antagonist, the time renegade Clive Ronan. She not only convinces her superior but also the time police of its brilliance. Of course, where Max generally is, there disaster will be. I believe that she is a proverbial lightning rod for crisis and calamity. The title of this book portends its events for one should "hope for the best...but plan for the worse."

If you are a fan of Doctor Who, you might enjoy this series. Begin with her inaugural book, Just One Damned Thing After Another and buckle up for a thrilling ride.
Profile Image for J.A. Ironside.
Author 57 books309 followers
May 2, 2019
Another great episode on the St Mary's saga featuring Max, Leon, Peterson, Dr Bairstow, Markham and the gang. Max has finally had enough of renegade time traveller and sworn enemy, Clive Ronan, impacting on her life. Struck by one of her brilliant ideas, Max leaves St Mary's on Secondment and joins the time police. Things go downhill from there - about what you'd expect really. Max manages to piss off everyone from crime lords to T-rexs, and it's not even tea time yet.

This was a really enjoyable episode, slowly inching the main series arc forward while still providing plenty of fun adventures in the meantime. I don't want to say too much more in case I inadvertently drop spoilers but there is some great action and twisty thinking in this one. Plus a moment between our lead duo that many people have been waiting for for several books ;)

Highly recommend this excellent and humorous time travel sci-fi extravaganza series.
Profile Image for Sophie.
939 reviews15 followers
May 31, 2019
Oh Max - nothing is ever straightforward! Love hearing about the jumps through history and the trouble the characters get into. Seeing more of Adrian and Mikey was good, as was Matthew. Shame there wasn't more of the St Mary's crew though.
Profile Image for Debrac2014.
1,846 reviews10 followers
April 8, 2020
Max is seconded to the Time Police so I thought I wouldn't see the St Mary's gang but I was wrong! It's another madcap romp thru time!
397 reviews1 follower
June 27, 2019
Wow!! Surprise ending. Hope there’s another in the series coming.
Profile Image for Juliette.
225 reviews3 followers
June 3, 2021
While I absolutely love following this cast of characters on all their wild adventures, I'm starting to fall out of love with this series. All my favourite elements just don't seem to be enough to keep me interested. I think the time travel element allows the author to use a wide range of settings, in both space and time, and that's precisely where her prose shines the most for me. I'm always impressed by the way in which she is able to describe the look and atmosphere of a new historical location in a few sentences. I also really enjoy Max as a narrator, especially when listening to the audiobooks. All the members of St Mary's are such unique characters, and Taylor has managed to make me care deeply about every single one of them.

But, I can't help noticing how many plot elements from previous instalments seem to be recycled over and over. Multiples events in this book give me this sense of déjà-vu, and I'm not talking about the intentional call-backs. My impression is that Taylor simply relies too much on familiar ideas/tropes and it's starting to show. It's especially disappointing when considering the infinite possibilities the time travel aspect might afford.

Another thing that is becoming increasingly grating is (what I personally started calling in my head when I'm ranting) "the return to status-quo." It's like the author wants to move the story forward by writing a scene that changes everything (for example a character death or a revelation with huge implications) but simultaneously wants to prevent a major change of circumstances for her characters. As such, way too many "scenes that change everything" end up being taken back, not just in this book but throughout the series as a whole. I'm starting to believe Taylor wants to have her cake and eat it too: create these big emotional moments for readers, without having to drastically change the trajectory of her story. This aspect is really affecting my enjoyment of the series. It's turning into a "boy who cried wolf" situation, where I feel indifferent to every major plot point because it might be undone in the next scene. In a way, I understand the author wants to keep recreating the formula that has worked in the past. But after 10 books, I don't think a change in the status-quo of the story would be unwelcome.

I'm trying to be optimistic for the rest of the series, since I'm still interested in seeing how Max's story will continue in the next book. But the issues I have are starting to add up, and I don't see myself keeping up with this series diligently if the trends I've noticed are also present in book 11.
Profile Image for Jacey.
Author 26 books96 followers
August 26, 2020
Anything by Jodi Taylor is buy-on-site, or pre-order as soon as news of a new book is released. The Chronicles of St Mary's are funny and serious in turn. The historians of St Mary's take their time travelling seriously. Their purpose is to observe historic events in real time, never to interfere. Though generally they are disaster magnets and something always goes wrong. Told from the viewpoint of Max Maxwell, whose droll, dry delivery is half the fun of the books, the whole series seems to have been working up to this point The early books were lighthearted, but without losing thew drollery, things have become more serious.

Several books ago, Max got together with Leon (one of the engineers) and they had a child, Matthew who was kidnapped by the long-running villain, Ronan and dumped in the Victorian era as a climbing boy for a chimney sweep. Time travel being what it is, it took Max and Leon several years (in Matthew's timeline) to find him. Matthew is now (for his own safety) staying with the Time Police in the future while Ronan is on the loose. Ronan is public enemy number one, having killed a number of St Mary's staff over the course of a few books, and nurtured a personal vendetta against Max, Leon and St Marys, so in this book, Max hatches a plan to finally trap him. She involves the Time Police, even though they've caused a lot of problems for St Marys in the past – the two organisations being natural opposites. Here we have time jumps to a Tudor period where history has gone wrong and to the Cretacious period where everything is trying to kill Max (the fauna, the weather, two gangland crooks, and Ronan). It's difficult to know who to trust.

I love the characters, the voice and the complex, fast-paced plotting. Highly recommended.

Audiobook 24/088/2020
As usual, this is read beautifully by Zara Ramm
Profile Image for Deb.
70 reviews
May 14, 2019
Seriously in love with this series! Jodi Taylor is an amazing author. Absolutely love the whit, sarcasm, humor, history, characters, intertwining story lines, personal relationships, trials, tribulations, triumphs---ALL of it. Please keep these Chronicles going!!! Completely entertained from page 1 to the end.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 496 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.