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The Sirens of Suspense

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WITCHES, SPIES, SHAKESPEARE & TIME TRAVEL: A BOOK TO GET LOST IN

The first book in Deborah Harkness’ All Souls Trilogy, A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES, (which debuted at number two on the NYT bestselling hardcover fiction list) introduced us to historian Diana Bishop, who discovers a strange and magical manuscript, Ashmole 782, hidden in plain sight in Oxford’s Bodleian Library. Though no stranger to magic—she comes from a long line of witches after all—she’s woefully unprepared for the number of otherworldly creatures who want to get their hands on the manuscript. In particular, handsome vampire (and geneticist) Matthew Clairmont, with whom she must ally to survive the upcoming supernatural battle over the manuscript.

A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES really isn’t a historical novel, however Harkness’ much anticipated sequel SHADOW OF NIGHT most definitely is—but by no means a typical historical. In this book Diana and Matthew travel back in time to Elizabethan England, thanks to Diana’s time-walking powers. Their goal: to find a witch equal to the task of awakening Diana’s magic and teaching her how to harness it, and hopefully discover the origins of Ashmole 782 along the way.  Unfortunately, this task isn’t as straightforward as anticipated. Instead, Diana and Matthew are dropped straight into a world of spies, witch hunts and danger.

Harkness brings something totally new to the table, so even if the supernatural is not your cup of tea, this is a historical novel worth reading. The avid reader can learn period details through the eyes of, and alongside a,  modern heroine.  Diana, despite being a historian, is  (almost) as clueless as the reader as to what the “doughnut” that goes under the Elizabethan dress is called, or the cadence of the English of the day.  Like Diana, the reader is thrown into a new (old) world which is much harder to navigate than books and movies have lead us to believe. We get to discover the world along with her in a very relatable way, and that unique feature makes it a novel even the most well-versed historical reader can get lost in.

(Note: SHADOW OF NIGHT should not be read as a stand-alone. I highly recommend starting with A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES.)

 

Deborah Harkness will be appearing at The Poisoned Pen on Thursday, August 2nd at 7:00PM.

 

If you enjoy Deborah Harkness, you may also like:

Elizabeth Kostova, THE HISTORIAN

Jon Steele, THE WATCHERS

M.J. Rose’s The Reincarnationist series (Recently published: THE BOOK OF LOST FRAGRANCES)

 

HAVE YOU READ THE ALL SOULS SERIES? Tell us what you think by using the comment box or on our Facebook page!

 

This review originally posted on The Poisoned Pen blog, read it and comment here:

http://poisonedpen.com/2012/witches-spies-shakespeare-time-travel-a-book-to-get-lost-in/#lightbox/0/

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