Book Reviews

All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness

An immensely readable trilogy, to be found in the Science Fiction part of the Library, the books are in order A Discovery of Witches, Shadow of Night and The Book of Life. Written by a history professor at the University of Southern California, the trilogy is Professor Harkness’ first foray into fiction. So well received by the public, the three novels were made into a TV series between 2018 and 2022.

From the first page, this reader was entranced and enthralled by the world of witches, vampires and other ethereal creatures, all living (carefully hidden) in present day England. The main character is Diana Bishop, a history professor from the USA spending time in Oxford to research her latest paper. She is a witch in denial of her powers and simply trying to live a normal life of academia, when she calls for a group of books from the Bodleian Library, one of which is a long lost alchemical manuscript. In her hands it unleashes an immense power, the like of which vampires and witches have been hunting for hundreds of years.

Whilst critics might discard this series as vampire romance (yes, it’s a genre), the series is brim full of truly interesting historical information, centred around Oxford, greater England and France, and spanning centuries. Diana’s unexpected alley is Matthew Clairmont, an Oxford Professor of medical research and who happens to be many hundreds of years old. Together they are set on a time-sensitive race to unlock Diana’s denied powers so she can defend herself against her enemies and find the missing book (again). The plot flips backwards and forwards through the centuries, following sequences of events directly relating to the many characters of this series. To the satisfaction of this reader, the details were faithfully recorded in the TV series, aided by sumptuous sets and costuming.

Recommended for fans of fantasy and European history.

Reviewed by Belinda Coombs
Murder and Crime Reading Group

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All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness

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