The fourth book of the Dreamhouse Kings series, Timescape, flows immediately from the end of the previous book, Gatekeepers. There, the mother of Ed King, who had been stolen away to past times and past worlds for more than 30 years had been rescued. However, the forces of time demand balance. What was taken must be returned. The absence of the elder Mrs. King from the timeline of past history results in her being pulled back to the portals to the past. While the King family is trying to save her, the evil Assyrian assassin makes his move and tries to kill the mysterious Jesse who built the dark shadows house with his family so many years ago. Jesse knows more about this house than anyone, and it was felt his presence would finally result in something positive to even out all of the negative, near-death trials the King family has experienced trying to locate their mother. His injuries and his absense have sucked the spirit and the fight out of everyone. Yet as he lay bleeding he left a clue for the family.
During this time the King family learns that one, and only one, portal leads to the future. Upon visiting this time, they witness a bleak, post-apocalyptic world occupied by humanoid mutants. This timescape of future history is being shaped by the actions of the assassin via his purposeful manipulations of the past. Yet, we don't know what his aim is. What is he trying to accomplish? Ultimately the King children make sense of Jesse's clue. He has given them the directions to find the portal that takes them back to meet him as a child, where he is busy with his father and brother building the house of dark shadows. The book comes to a close on a powerful crescendo as the King boys, Xander and David, who are trying to infiltrate the layer of the assassin, are trapped by the very man they were trying to outmaneuver. It is only at this moment that they realize how overmatched they really are, outflanked by an evil master of the game.
At this point in the series, we have experienced the characters and lived with them through countless ordeals that began only a mere few days ago. However, the personalities, tendencies, and strengths of the King children have been well developed. Xander (15) is brave, self-reliant, rebellious, and headstrong. David (12) is courageous, cerebral, and caring. Toria (9) is strong, tenacious, and more reliant on others. We are still left trying to understand the father Ed King. He busies himself but without really getting anything done. His caution is at times frustrating. Yet we understand how much he loves his children. Now onto the fifth book in the series by Robert Liparulo, "Whirlwind".