Vampire Watchmen

 It’s been a year since Samantha Carter blasted back to 1888, barely escaping with her life. Now, returned to present-day London with only her nymphomaniac flatmate for company, she’s starting to believe that everything – the blood-curdling vampires, her strange and sudden skills with a gun, even her mysterious lover Harry – was nothing but a dream.

Just when Sammy is about to lose all hope that her friends and memories were real, it finally happens again. This time she’s pulled back to a city she does not recognise: a London in the grip of a terrible plague, where death haunts the night and a deeper, darker threat lurks underground, waiting for its chance . . .

Fighting side by side with her friends once again, Sammy encounters horrors beyond her imagining; yet what really terrifies her are the endless questions, one most of all: who is she really? Torn between the life she longs for and the life she can believe in, Sammy must decide whether she’s brave enough to risk everything, even her heart . . .

Well, I have to say I enjoyed this book more than I did the first.  The writing was smoother although I still found it a little on the immature side, and while the story still jumped around from scene to scene without much transition it was easier to follow this time.

I warmed up more to the characters and Sammy in particular but I still found the connections hard – especially between Sammy and Harry.  Their sex scenes were much more readable but there still doesn’t seem to have been anywhere near enough interaction between them to make it seem real rather than a bit tawdry or meaningless.  Also the multiple references to listening to her nymphomaniac flatmate having sex (or Preacher and Louise) was a bit off-putting.

The plot makes a bit more sense in that it’s obviously going to be a recurring theme for Sammy to time travel but have no idea why or remember where, and the groundwork that should have been in the first book was finally present in the second one.  There are still some moments where Sammy does idiotic things for the plot’s sake and I find that hard to take – she is not a stupid woman yet does stupid things.  For example, she gets warned not to do something and with very good reasons and then she goes and does them anyway.  It just makes me facepalm.

By the end I did want to know more and Sammy and a couple of the other characters were starting to grow on me but overall, it was not a book I found gripping or exciting, and was just an OK read.  I will read the next book because the big picture plot is quite interesting, but I strongly hope the series continues to improve as much as this book did.

Book Information
  • Author: Tim O'Rourke
  • Series: Samantha Carter (2)
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Rating: ★★½☆☆ 

Shadow of Night

 Fall deeper under the spell of Diana and Matthew in the captivating second volume of the No.1 internationally bestselling ALL SOULS trilogy, following A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES.

In a world of witches, daemons and vampires the fragile balance of peace is unravelling. Diana and Matthew’s forbidden love has broken the laws dividing creatures. To discover the manuscript which holds their hope for the future, they must now travel back to the past.

When Diana Bishop, descended from a line of powerful witches, discovered a significant alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library, she sparked a struggle in which she became bound to long-lived vampire Matthew Clairmont. Now the coexistence of witches, daemons, vampires and humans is dangerously threatened. Seeking safety, Diana and Matthew travel back in time to London, 1590. But they soon realise 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. Together Matthew and Diana scour Tudor London for the elusive manuscript Ashmole 782, and search for the witch who will teach Diana how to control her remarkable powers…

Shadow of Night is the second book in the All Soul’s Trilogy and follows straight on from A Discovery of Witches.  It opens with our beloved Diana and Matthew having travelled back in time to the year 1590 in search of the mysterious and undamaged Ashmole 782 manuscript.

This book was utterly fascinating and I can only imagine how fertile Harkness’ imagination is, combining documented historical events with her own prose to make something so rich and believable and make you feel as if you were there!

Diana progresses so much in this book, she really comes into her own, as witch, wife and historian. Matthew is a complicated character, having lived so long (and through this time period once already) he does struggle with possessiveness, misogyny and at times needs a good smack on the back of his head. Balancing that out though, he is also extremely loving, clever and underestimates his wife so when she takes matters into her own hands, his reactions can be amusing.

The love they have for each other is undeniably sweet, even when they lose their way a bit, you know that is at the core.

I loved most of the new characters in this book, except Christopher ‘Kit’ Marlowe, he was just a jealous little toad! Gallowglass, Jack, Annie, the coven were all superb and Elizabeth 1st was awesomely erratic.  I also loved the magic that Diana wields, the threads of life using a skein of embroidery thread and knots to represent different things.  I look forward to finding out just what she can do!

I’m not well versed in history but Deborah manages to bring characters to life that I’d only heard about in vaguely remembered history lessons at school and it even led me to do further reading. Of course that just increased my respect for the author’s talent at blending fact and fiction.

The plot moves along nicely at the same pace as the first book but with an added sense of urgency and tension. It’s not a quick read but it is extremely engaging and hard to put down. The majority of this novel is set back in time with a couple of glimpses as to what is happening with the families back in modern day. I expected those to feel disjointed and jerk me out of the story but actually they happened quite organically.

Now, at the end of the book, they have returned to present day and its time to find out if everything they went through was worth it. It’s time to finish this and open the final book in the All Soul’s Trilogy, The Book Of Life!

Book Information
  • Author: Deborah Harkness
  • Series: All Soul's Trilogy (2)
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Rating: ★★★★½