Kindle: 594 pages
Publisher: Penguin Books
Release Date: 8th February 2011
SET IN OXFORD, FRANCE AND NEW YORK STATE
Pitched as a grown up “Twilight” meets “Harry Potter,” Harkness certainly draws on the conventions of the genre in this first of three All Souls novels.
The Blurb: Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.
I had high hopes for this novel – I’m a sucker for a supernatural adventure romance, but to be honest I struggled with it. The opening is slow and it takes a good third of the book before we get past our heroine researching in various areas of the Bodleian being watched by various creatures. Not exactly the gripping introduction I was wanting.
It is also very frustrating to come across yet another stereotypical macho (but sensitive) leading man – Matthew Clairmont, besides his very contemporary love of yoga, is basically a carbon copy of Edward Cullen and Jamie Fraser, right down to the brooding old fashioned morals. Protective to the point of being annoying, instead of being a foil that allows Diana to shine as a strong leading lady, he ends up seeming to stifle much of what makes her interesting.
The pace certainly picks up in the second half of the novel and I enjoyed the plot once it got going – even if there were moments where I felt I read it before in other books. The Outlander style element that was introduced towards the end of the novel sets up something interesting and I will probably read the next in the series as a beach read. I am incapable of not finishing a series once I start one!
Overall a solid addition to the genre but don’t expect anything particularly new or original.