Of all the holiday stories I've read in the past couple of weeks, this is one of my favorites. I loved this story and these characters. I read most of this in one sitting because I didn't want to put this down.
Despite it being a fairly short story - around a hundred pages I think - it contains quite a bit of emotional weight.
Zeit is the son of Father Time. Each year, he has to take one life to pay for the time needed by the Fates. (It's explained better in the book.) But last year, he spared the life of Hannah, the person he was supposed to take, and selected an older man near her having a heart attack. The Fates weren't happy about being tricked and he's spent the past year following Hannah around, trying to save her from the Fates' attempts to claim the life that was robbed from them.
Hannah is living on borrowed time, but she doesn't know this. She only knows that every once in a while she blacks out and appears in strange places - like a few feet away from where she was before or in one case, almost two miles away. This is starting to frighten her and she's been going to doctors and having tests run and she's getting no answers. But she has begun to notice that every time she has a blackout, she notices a handsome man in a black trench coach walking away.
Every Christmas, Hannah goes away to a cabin in the woods to spend the holidays alone - and with the other people staying at the cabin. She doesn't have family of her own, and the people here know her. And reading about this place made me wish I could find somewhere like that to spend the holidays. Sounds wonderful.
This year, as she's checking in, she notices the man in the dark coat also checking in. She confronts him about having seen him before, and he's vague in his answer. As the only two single people there, they keep finding themselves together. Zeit's initial plan was to spend some time with her, work her out of his system before her life ended with the beginning of the New Year. He hoped that maybe if he got to know her, she wouldn't seem so special anymore. But getting to know Hannah has the exact opposite effect.
If you've ever read any of my reviews, you might have noticed that with regard to romances, I'm a big fan of seeing how the characters fall for each other. This story handles that quite well. It was so easy to see the two going from being almost complete strangers to gradually learning more about each other and wanting to spend more and more time together. I liked these two characters so very much.
Also, what might have hit home the most for me was Hannah realizing it's time to start taking part in life, time to stop watching everyone else live. After she learns of Zeit's true identity, and becomes aware of how limited time can be, she starts to regret all the chances she didn't take. She feels as if the rest of the world moved one, while she stood on the side. Now she wants to start living, but it might be too late.
I don't want to give away what happens, I'll only say that I enjoyed this a lot. An interesting and different twist on a holiday theme - I don't think I've ever read a book about Father Time or his sons before - great, relatable characters, appropriate snowy setting and a very nice romance.
I very much recommend this book, especially during that week between Christmas and New Year's Eve, when you want to get away from the family for a bit.