Deborah Harkness is an academician and a historian, the fact which is apparent in her books. Discovery of Witches has the magic and thrill of the forbidden love and Shadow of Night takes us further beyond that romance and into the realities of loving your enemy. Both the books are amazingly well-written, with fleshed out characters and enough thrill to keep you turning those pages well into the night.
A Discovery of Witches: A Discovery of Witches starts with a young, inexperienced Diana Bishop accidently unearthing a long lost alchemical manuscript at the Bodelian Library in Oxford. This discovery soon puts vampires, daemons and other witches hot on Diana’s trail, including a biochemist and ancient vampire-Matthew Clairmont. With every creature desperate to discover the secrets of the alchemical manuscript, the book follows Matthew and Diana as they journey from Oxford, to France to Madison, New York to find the secrets buried since ancient times.
It starts with Diana-a reluctant witch-accidently discovering the lost manuscript, which the creatures-witches, vampires, and daemons- are desperately searching for centuries. While the book has a little slow start, it grips you right from the first page. Diana Bishop is portrayed as a reluctant witch who is trying to break out of her witch heritage. She’s smart, strong, and strong-willed. Matthew Clairmont is a biochemist looking for reasons the creatures are dying out. Since time immemorial forbidden love has caught our fantasies and this tale of suspense and love between a witch and a vampire is no different. On one side is the congregation of creatures who will stop at nothing to get back the lost manuscript and avoid the union of a powerful witch and a vampire and on the good side are the creatures ready to kill and die so that others can live free. The book will have you fall in love with not just Matthew Clairmont, but the other characters including Hamish, Marcus, Sarah and Emily.
Shadow of Night: Shadow of Night begins exactly where The Discovery of Witches left off. With Diana trying to fit in the 16th century England and Matthew trying to keep her safe from the witch trials, the couple is having a tough enough time, without adding the congregation and Elizabethan politics.The second book of the trilogy, focuses on Matthew and Diana looking for a powerful witch to train Diana on her witchcraft along with the lost alchemical manuscript.
This is the book where Deborah Harkness’s background as a historian shines through. While reading the Shadow of Night, you don’t just read Diana and Matthew’s story, you are also educated about the England of middle ages, the important characters and a short course on Elizabethan politics. Her writing is crisp and detailed enough that you can picture the 1590’s London in your mind, but not so detailed that you are bogged down with descriptions. Again like in the first book, this one has well rounded characters, and story moves forward from London to France to Prague and back.
While many people have compared this series to Twilight, this wouldn’t be further from truth. The richness of Deborah’s writing will immerse you in the book and leave you wanting for more. It will leave you caring and loving the characters as if they were alive, and that is a mark of a good book in my opinion. The last book in the series comes out in July and I am excited, yet sad to see the end of All Soul’s Trilogy. Hopefully Deborah Harknesss has more in store for us. Don’t miss this amazing series.