Mini Series Review: All Souls Trilogy – Deborah Harkness

 

Synopses:

A Discovery Of Witches: 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. 

Shadow Of Night: Seeking safety, Diana and Matthew travel back in time to London, 1590. But they soon realize that the past may not provide a haven. Reclaiming his former identity as poet and spy for Queen Elizabeth, the vampire falls back in with a group of radicals known as the School of Night. Many are unruly daemons, the creative minds of the age, including playwright Christopher Marlowe and mathematician Thomas Harriot.

The Book Of Life: After travelling through time in Shadow of Night, the second book in Deborah Harkness’s enchanting series, 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.


So I need to get back into the swing of things, and I thought that starting with a mini review would be best for that particular purpose – especially given that my thoughts on this series can be summarised quite easily. As this is my first mini review, I thought I’d try the: THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE VERDICT format – and see how that is received and if it actually works for both you and me. 

THE GOOD:

  • The story wasn’t quite your typical romance, it actually felt informative in terms of its content – I found the prominent historical aspects really enjoyable to read.
  • Book 1 and 3 moved at a comfortable pace, I felt like the storyline flowed nicely.
  • The characters were, for the most part, padded out – although I have to say that neither Diana nor Matthew were my favourites of the lot – I just found the rest so much more compelling.
  • scienceLike okay, if I looked more deeply into things, I’d probably find some problems with some of the concepts, but I think all in all these books were rather well researched.

    THE BAD:

  • THE SECOND BOOK….. Literally all my problems with this series lie within the second book. It was slow, there were too many bloody characters, it spent too much time in places which didn’t deserve it and just overall irked me.
  • (THE NOT SO BAD BUT STILL ANNOYING) Diana got on my nerves at some points, but then really – most of that occurred yet again during the second novel. Middle book syndrome anyone??

    THE VERDICT:

    Overall, I’d definitely say that this series is worth a read, books 1 and 3 make a compelling argument to oppose the crimes committed by the middle novel, so as long as you can actually get through Shadow Of Night – I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars 

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ARC Series Review: Sky Ghosts Series – Alexandra Engellmann

sky ghosts all for one coversky ghosts marcoShortened Synopses:

Their lives depend on their swords.
Their battlefield is all around you.
They fight against the scariest monsters – their own kind.
How many of them are in your city?

All for one: They are bodyguards of the highest level and protectors of their cities at night, when they hunt those who chose the dark side, Sky Beasts.
In New York City, there are two fighters that Sky Beasts hate more than anyone – Jane and Pain, two sisters who don’t think twice about beheading a Beast or two. One night, they save two boys from their enemies’ blades, and since that moment, their lives are effectively ruined. The whole Sky Beasts gang is now after them, and not only the boys are in danger, but everybody the sisters love and care about.
As a war threatens to break out, the main mystery remains unsolved: why would the Beasts hunt two ordinary human boys?

Marco: It was hate at first sight. She broke chairs on his head, and in return he broke her bones.
When Marco joined the New York Sky Ghosts Headquarters, he expected trouble. What he didn’t expect was a girl half his size that would turn his life into hell. They spilled too much of each other’s blood for any hope for reconciliation. How did it happen that they ended up spilling blood for each other on a daily basis?

You can view the full synopses here.


I received ARCs of both books directly from the author in exchange for an honest review.

***SPOILER FREE***

Starting on a more positive note, I loved the idea of the story- flying, bad-ass assassins and loved the fact that Engellmann decided to include two sisters as the best fighters amongst them – I do love a good strong female character now and again (Read: You literally cannot go wrong if your female character is strong, either by physical or psychological power- you really can’t ) so both of these books were a complete delight when it came to the plot itself and its ideas.

However, several problems appeared when I was reading the first novel in particular, the plot stuck together and would have read well had it not been for constant POV switches which happened with no warning in the majority of cases. Also, whilst I’m aware that Engellmann’s first language is not English, the grammar and vocabulary choices bothered me as I was reading as the majority of it just didn’t sound natural, for example:

“And Marco, he doesn’t really have much respect for anybody who’s not formidable enough.”

I mean okay, technically it does make complete sense in terms of relaying the message but I could think of several more natural sounding ways in which that sentence could be written.

On the plus side, I liked the romance that developed through the course of the novel and thought that it gave room for some major character development when it came to Pain’s character – I liked seeing her gentle side now and again to prove that underneath the whole being a brilliant and heartless killer façade she was just a girl, or woman I should say. Needless to say, I thought that Chad was a great character too, and was actually pleasantly surprised with the plot twist regarding his role in the book.

Personally, I enjoyed Marco a lot more than it’s predecessor as I found that it moved at a much quicker pace (maybe due to it being a novella), with less annoying mistakes when it came to the writing, and of course – I had already met the characters before and so I knew what to expect of them. But it was a good prequel to the first book and thought that it linked in very well.

I would recommend these books to fans of fantasy novels full of action and angel-like creatures.

My Rating: 3/5 Stars

“I’m not mean to everybody. I’m only mean to people whose intellectual level is awfully lower than mine.”

-Pain