Just in Time for Halloween

9780399564512  Witches and vampires take on a literary bent with Deborah Harkness, who returns with Diana Bishop, Oxford scholar and reluctant witch, in Time’s Convert.   If you missed the All Souls Trilogy introducing the cast of characters, Harkness thoughtfully brings you into the family with clever references as she tells the new story of what it takes to become a vampire.

Alternating between contemporary Paris and London, and the American colonies during the Revolutionary War, the story fills in the background of one of its main characters. Matthew de Clermont, now Diana’s husband,  when he meets Marcus MacNeil, a young surgeon from Massachusetts, during the war.   Matthew, a vampire, offers Marcus the opportunity for immortality and a new life.  Marcus’s transformation is not an easy one and his newfound family often clashes with his inbred beliefs.  In the present, Marcus’s fiancee is undergoing her own tranformation to becoming a vampire, and Diana is coping with her two year old twins who seem to have discovered their powers.

If you are a reader of magic, the supernatural, and romance, Time’s Convert will satisfy.  And if you are a fan, Discovery of Witches has been filmed and showing in the UK, with Matthew Goode from Downton Abbey playing the handsome vampire.  Not yet in the United States; maybe PBS will add it to its collection next year.

Related Review: Discovery of Witches

The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness

9780670025596_p0_v3_s260x420The final chapter of the Deborah Harkness three book trilogy in The Book of Life has me yearning to restart from the beginning of Book One. Finally, witch Diana has overcome the powers of darkness and united all creatures through magic and a little genetic research. Finally, she had become a woman of formidable power, a professor by day and head of a feisty Board of vampires, daemons, and witches by night – with her handsome brooding vampire lover, Matthew, at her side. The ending was satisfying and inevitable, but the journey is everything. If you have read the first two books, you will appreciate how cleverly Harkness uses history and ancestry to bind the story.

If you are a fan of Gabaldon’s Outlander, and can suspend belief while Harkness carries you away – all the while grounding you in the cycle of family dissension and worldly politics, you will find the same contented flavor of adventure, romance, and intrigue with the All Souls Trilogy. Harkness ends with a not so subtle message appropriate for today’s worldly unrest. If only we had her magic threads to tie us all together.

The Book of Life can stand alone, but if you want the total experience, start from the beginning – or at least read the reviews:

Shadow of Night

Modern witch Diana Bishop and her vampire lover, Matthew Clairmont, are back in Deborah Harkness’s Shadow of Night. Diana and Matthew, scientific creatures who research DNA and alchemy in the new world, time travel back to merry Old England’s Elizabethan Age to hone Diana’s witching skills and look for the elusive book – Ashmole 782 – that started the tale.

Harkness cleverly manages the time differential with threads weaving through the magic, and delivers as much adventure, mystery, romance – and fun – as she did in A Discovery of Witches, her first book in this All Souls trilogy. If you are a fan of sixteenth century English literature, you will marvel at the literary luminaries that Diana meets – Christopher Marlowe and Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” will never be the same.

As a recognized scholar and continuing student of Elizabethan London, Harkness adds details that create the clothing, manners, and rivalries of the Old World better than any Renaissance fair. Scientific inquiry is a major catalyst in the plot, and Harkness sets the record straight on who invented the telescope, sending me to google Galileo and Thomas Harriot.

Like the first book, this one is long and complicated with plot twists and surprises.

Read A Discovery of Witches first, if you can – check out my review here

It’s going to be a long wait until the third book’s final installment, but Hollywood is already planning the movies.