The All Souls Trilogy

Some great n8667848ews came down the pike recently: Deborah Harkness’ All Souls Trilogy is in development with the BBC, which is frankly a real relief as well as a joy. So often our favorite books get turned into movies that don’t do them justice, but I feel the BBC can really get this one right and it’s perfect for TV, rather than film. I get the impression that Harkness has more stories to tell about the people in Diana and Matthew’s lives, so perhaps that will get worked into the television series.

Haven’t read the All Souls Trilogy? Unlike all the YA adventures I’ve been recommending to you, all three books are available right now.

Here’s a bit about the first book in the trilogy, A Discovery of Witches, from Harkness’ website:

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.

Harkness herself is a historian, so A Discovery of Witches, Shadow of Night and The Book of Life are deliciously 11559200 detailed in history, setting and the richly developed culture of supernatural “creatures” that inhabit the earth alongside humans. I admit that as a particularly witchy academic lady, these books hold a lot of personal appeal for me. More than anything else, the All Souls Trilogy is a love story and a family saga. As Diana and Matthew both struggle to find their place in the world (both as a couple and as individuals) it becomes clear that while this is most definitely a story about the origin of creatures, it’s also a complex narrative about love and acceptance. Diana and Matthew experience so many different ways to have familial relationships, it’s hard not to get attached to them.

16054217Fair warning: Matthew is a very “typical” vampire lover. He is possessive and runs dangerously close to being obsessed with Diana. Harkness does a brilliant job of making sense of this, through her explanation of vampires as a “species” and she shows us how Matthew struggles with his natural urge to possess Diana. Besides which, Diana is not at all compliant with Matthew’s tendency to order her around. Ultimately, there’s a lot of mutual respect in their relationship and they find ways to work out the difficulties in one another’s personalities. Anyone in a relationship with two big personalities will recognize this struggle.

Harkness writes great characters and I will confess that though I care for Matthew and Diana, her supporting characters are all so charismatic, it’s hard not to get distracted. You won’t meet Gallowglass until a little later in the trilogy… But… {fans herself}… Gallowglass is just wonderful. Think tatoos, motorcycle and sensitive/tough guy charm. Matthew’s vampire parents are both insanely likable. Harkness’ villains are as despicable as her protagonists are lovable, but don’t let that fool you into thinking they’re not complex. There’s only a few characters who are bad through and through and believe me, you’ll cheer for their demise as the series goes on. It’s to Harkness’ credit that the most threatening “bad guy” Matthew and Diana face is truly evil, but we come to understand why as the trilogy ends.

One of my biggest pet peeves in supernatural sagas with a female lead is that too often I feel that the woman gives up her power to be in her relationship. This is what’s so satisfying about Matthew and Diana, he only ever wants her to be herself and to come into her own as a witch. When she does, he’s secure enough to watch her soar ahead of him and he loses nothing in doing so. Plus, it’s nice for a 1500 year old vampire to be in love with a successful woman in her thirties, not an adolescent girl, every once in a while.

The All Souls Trilogy locates itself somewhere inside the same nebulous field as Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series: part supernatural adventure, part romance, part historical fiction. It’s hard to pin either series down to just one thing and that’s part of their charm. Additionally, fans of Susanna Kearsley’s work will most likely enjoy the All Souls Trilogy.

Allison Carr Waechter has thrown over all other literary boyfriends for Gallowglass this week, how fickle. Though if you even think about Mr. Darcy, she will be quite out of sorts. You can hash out the details with her on twitter or peek in on her at her website.



2 thoughts on “The All Souls Trilogy

  1. Pingback: Sci-fi/YA for Adults: Part 3 | Coven Book Club

  2. Pingback: Our Favorite Fictional Witches | Coven Book Club

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