Let Me Put My Suggestions In You: The All Souls Trilogy

It is sadly getting more and more rare that I find a series out there that I can’t put down. Having read a decent amount of fantasy and science fiction novels (see attached picture of my library thus far) I sometimes get excited about a new novel only to be bored by their predictability and similarities with other novels I have already read. But The All Souls Trilogy was a series by Deborah Harkness (no relation to our Arthur that I know of) that restored my faith in the fantasy novel. I want to give you a brief background on why I truly think this series is worth losing sleep over if you have not read it already.

book shelf

The first book in this trilogy is A Discovery of Witches and sets the scene in Oxford where our main character Diana Bishop is on sabbatical. She is a history professor from Yale, and as much as she hates to admit it, she is a witch. She was born that way afterall, as witches are one of three supernatural creatures in our world that hide from human view: witches, daemons, and vampires. The first two are born that way to those of their kind, and have a different genetic makeup then humans. The latter vampire is made that way but also has a different genetic makeup once they are transformed in to a blood sucker.

Diana was born a witch, and hates that she was. Her parents were brutally murdered in Africa when she was a young child for being witches, and she refused to learn the ways of being a witch since she was a child. She embraced a human life and excelled at it, becoming an esteemed historian at the Ivy League Yale.

The Author Deborah Harkness is also a historian like her main character.

The Author Deborah Harkness is also a historian like her main character.

While she is in a famous Oxford Library doing research on alchemy of the past, a mysterious manuscript known as Ashmole 782 presents itself to her. The book is enchanted in some way, and seems to attract supernatural beings to the Bodleian Library in droves. Having banished her witchy ways Diana wants nothing to do with the book or the supernatural creatures around her, and returns it to the archives where it suddenly disappears and is unattainable by all those that try to get at it.

While the campus is being overrun by supernatural individuals, Diana meets Matthew Clairmont, an individual she naturally recognizes as a vampire. He is a genetics and evolutionary biology professor on the campus and the two feel strangely attracted to each other. They begin to spend more time together, and Matthew reveals to her that he and his vampire son have been researching supernatural species genetically for some time.

Matthew Clairmont as painted in the 1500's

Matthew Clairmont as painted in the 1500’s

Unfortunately for Matthew and Diana, supernaturals of different species are not supposed to spend much time together, so the local witch coven starts to spy on Diana and threaten her if she does not cut off her connection with Matthew. But by this point they realize that they are falling in love and say to hell with their rules, fleeing to France where Matthew’s vampire family has an estate where the two can get their feet under them again.

That’s a very simplified introduction to this series, but what unfolds is Diana being revealed as a genetic anomaly among witches, one with powers from all of the elements as well as the capability of being a time traveler (a rarity among witches), and a weaver (the even more rare ability to create your own spells rather than use those already documented in a grimoire). Matthew also has some secrets about his genetic background as a vampire that make him unique. The two are able to figure out that the manuscript found by Diana in the library contains important information about the origin of all supernatural species. With that information Diana and Matthew could figure out many puzzled over questions of the species, and explain to the ruling council on supernaturals that individual species should not be prevented from intermingling. So that is the basis of the series, the two and all of their family and friends (quite a wonderful assortment of witches, daemons, and vampires) set out on a quest to empower Diana and learn all there is to know about the supernatural species for all of their benefits.

One of my favorite supernatural creatures in the novel is Corra, Diana's familiar the fire drake.

One of my favorite supernatural creatures in the novel is Corra, Diana’s familiar the fire drake.

It is naturally more complicated than that, but to give you a brief summary of each book: In A Discovery of Witches we learn a lot about the vampire species and start to see Diana revealed as a formidable witch despite her lack of training. In the second novel, Shadow of Night, our favorite couple travels back in time to London and France of the 1500’s, where Diana can safely learn witchcraft from a group of powerful ancient witches, and meet her now father in law vampire Philip. This novel has amazing details of history and literally transports you to another world, as well as shows more strengthening of Diana’s character as a witch to be awed. And in the series finale, The Book of Life, there is an incredible combination of biology, genetics, history, and women power to conclude our saga. It ends on a blissful note, as well as has some terrifying scenes and great new characters.

It has been a long time since I have read a series that made me lose sleep, mainly cause I could not stop reading it when lying in bed at night. These books did that for me for many reasons. Whether you love animalistic vampires, a strong feminine character, time travel, sadistic villains, cute humor, mythology, witchcraft and magic, historical fiction, or a scientific explanation for fantastical events, this series has a little bit of everything. There are rumors that it will be made in to a movie series, but I will keep my fingers crossed they don’t as there is no way a movie series could capture the essence of these incredible books.

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Posted on October 3, 2014, in Books, Let Me Put My Suggestions In You and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Couldn’t agree with you more, well played.

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