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A world of witches, daemons and vampires. A manuscript which holds the secrets of their past and the key to their future. Diana and Matthew – the forbidden love at the heart of it.
When historian Diana Bishop opens an alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library, it’s an unwelcome intrusion of magic into her carefully ordered life. Though Diana is a witch of impeccable lineage, the violent death of her parents while she was still a child convinced her that human fear is more potent than any witchcraft. Now Diana has unwittingly exposed herself to a world she’s kept at bay for years; one of powerful witches, creative, destructive daemons and long-lived vampires. Sensing the significance of Diana’s discovery, the creatures gather in Oxford, among them the enigmatic Matthew Clairmont, a vampire geneticist. Diana is inexplicably drawn to Matthew and, in a shadowy world of half-truths and old enmities, ties herself to him without fully understanding the ancient line they are crossing. As they begin to unlock the secrets of the manuscript and their feelings for each other deepen, so the fragile balance of peace unravels…
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and thought that it was well written. I found the fact that these fantastical beings were adults and not teenagers refreshing, though that is probably more about my reading habits than a credit to the author. I found the characters to be practical and refreshingly competent. While they do have magic to help them with their skillset, both Dianna and Matthew have a realistic understanding of this limits and the consequences of their actions that is nice to see. Furthermore, they are honest about when they don’t know something and try to ask the relevant experts as opposed to some how guessing correctly or using uncanny reasoning abilities to work it out. Another credit to the author is that these experts are not all the same person who knows everything. Instead a number of different people are consulted to get different opinions or to find the person who know the most. Seeing this more realistic distribution of knowledge was nice to see.
As for the plot, I enjoyed how such a simple premise filled the entire book. At nearly 700 pages, this book is no quick read, yet it has a beautifully simple plot. While there are other subplots that keep things interesting, little progress is made on the main plot – retrieving Ashmole 782. I think that this is a good thing as the book takes place over a relatively short span of time, and to have solved all of the problems would have seemed trivial and led to poor worldbuilding, which is well thought out and has depth. I look forward to reading the rest of the trilogy.
I received this book for free from books2door, and you can buy the All Souls Trilogy from them here.