An epic, richly inventive, historically sweeping, magical romance. Includes exclusive bonus material.
When historian Diana Bishop opens an alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library, it’s an unwelcome intrusion of magic into her carefully ordered life. Though Diana is a witch of impeccable lineage, the violent death of her parents while she was still a child convinced her that human fear is more potent than any witchcraft. Now Diana has unwittingly exposed herself to a world she’s kept at bay for years; one of powerful witches, creative, destructive daemons and long-lived vampires. Sensing the significance of Diana’s discovery, the creatures gather in Oxford, among them the enigmatic Matthew Clairmont, a vampire geneticist Diana is inexplicably drawn to Matthew and, in a shadowy world of half-truths and old enmities, ties herself to him without fully understanding the ancient line they are crossing. As they begin to unlock the secrets of the manuscript and their feelings for each other deepen, so the fragile balance of peace unravels…
I’m a history nut. Admit it, not ashamed of it. 🙂 I had no idea that Deborah Harkness was a history professor by everyday trade, but it certainly explains the degree of accuracy in her descriptions of past events in this, her first fiction novel.
Witches, Vampires and Daemons…oh, and a long-lost alchemical manuscript that suddenly turns up in the main character’s hand. Dr Diana Bishop is one of a long line of witches, but she’s walked away from her heritage for several reasons and focussed herself on living a ‘real life’. Best laid plans, highest of intents…but sadly, Diana finds herself without much of a choice but to get involved when Ashmole 782 comes to her research desk at the Bodleian. Cue the entry of tall, dark and handsome millennial-aged vampire, Matthew Clairmont!
Diana and Matthew find themselves extremely attracted to each other and they wind up trying to figure out precisely why every otherworldly being in the world (it seems) wants to get their hands on Ashmole 782. There are a range of theories – depending on which otherworldly group you ask – as to the actual content of the manuscript and the process of discovering which is the real one led me along through the novel at speed and without wanting to put it down. That’s not something that happens to me often! So much so, I set myself up with the 2nd volume in the trilogy so I could continue the journey without delay. (Sorry Mr U, I owe you a few days of TLC for the way I ignored you so I could read!)
For a first novel, this is a great read. Author friends have said that you write what you know, and Deborah Harkness has utilised her professional abilities to excellent effect. But this is far from a dry, historical read. If you like the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, I think you’d enjoy this novel.
How many smilies? 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 out of 5.