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The All Souls Trilogy, by Deborah Harkness

the-book-of-life-debirah-harkness-uk

Deborah Harkness is the author behind The All Souls Trilogy, the three books that make up the series are A Discovery of Witches, which was published in 2008, and answers the question: Are there really Vampires, and if so what do they do for a living? The second book continues with the story of Diana and Matthew (the main characters from the first book), called Shadow of the Night which was published in 2012 and finishes with the 3rd book – The Book of Life, published in July of this year. The books have been on the New York Times bestsellers list, have proved very popular in England, Germany and France and have been translated in to thirty eight foreign editions.

Deborah grew up in Philadelphia in the US, but is well travelled; she has lived in five different time zones within the US and has also lived in Oxford and London in the UK. She is a history scholar and has researched the history of magic and science in Europe covering the period 1500-1700, the libraries being one of the reasons that brought her to the UK. Deborah puts this knowledge to good use by teaching European history and the history of science at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. She has also published nonfiction books, one being John Dee’s Conversations with Angels: Cabala, Alchemy, and the End of Nature (Cambridge University Press, 1999). But it wasn’t until 2008 that she started writing fiction.

A Discovery of Witches

When historian Diana Bishop opens a bewitched alchemical manuscript in Oxford’s Bodleian Library it represents an unwelcome intrusion of magic into her carefully ordinary life. Though descended from a long line of witches, she is determined to remain untouched by her family’s legacy. She banishes the manuscript to the stacks, but Diana finds it impossible to hold the world of magic at bay any longer.

For witches are not the only otherworldly creatures living alongside humans. There are also creative, destructive daemons and long-lived vampires who become interested in the witch’s discovery. They believe that the manuscript contains important clues about the past and the future, and want to know how Diana Bishop has been able to get her hands on the elusive volume.

Chief among the creatures who gather around Diana is vampire Matthew Clairmont, a geneticist with a passion for Darwin. Together, Diana and Matthew embark on a journey to understand the manuscript’s secrets. But the relationship that develops between the ages-old vampire and the spellbound witch threatens to unravel the fragile peace that has long existed between creatures and humans – and will certainly transform Diana’s world as well.

Shadow of the Night

Shadow of the Night plunges Diana and Matthew into Elizabethan London, a world of spies and subterfuge, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the mysterious School of Night.  The mission is to locate a witch to tutor Diana and to find traces of Ashmole 782, but as the net of Matthew’s past tightens around them they embark on a very different journey, one that takes them into heart of the 1,500 year old vampire’s shadowed history and secrets. For Matthew Clairmont, time travel is no simple matter; nor is Diana’s search for the key to understanding her legacy.

Shadow of Night brings us a rich and splendid tapestry of alchemy, magic, and history, taking us through the loop of time to deliver a deepening love story, a tale of blood, passion, and the knotted strands of the past.

The Book of Life

In The Book of Life historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to face new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home at Sept-Tours, they reunite with the cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches – with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency. In the trilogy’s final volume, Harkness deepens her themes of power and passion, family and caring, past deeds and their present consequences. In ancestral homes and university laboratories, using ancient knowledge and modern science, from the hills of the Auvergne to the palaces of Venice and beyond, the couple at last learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago.

On her website, Deborah answers the question about her interest in all things alchemy:

How did you become interested in the intersection of alchemy, magic, and science? Historically, what do you see as the relationship between science and religion or mysticism?

In college, I had a wonderful professor who taught a class on these subjects. To kick off the class, he asked us, “How do you know what you think you know?” I’ve spent the last quarter century trying to answer that question. Because the world is a mysterious place and our relationship to it is not always clear, people have often turned to science, faith, and magic for answers. They help people find responses to the questions of Who am I and Why am I here?

Booklist Review:

“Harkness herself proves to be quite the alchemist as she combines elements of magic, history, romance, and science, transforming them into a compelling journey through time, space, and geography. By bridging the gaps between Harry PotterTwilight, and Outlander fans, Harkness artfully appeals to a broad range of fantasy lovers.”