[A quick note: It started with a promise to myself to only read ONE chapter. I had not planned to read this book as part of my October TBR. While I’ve seen the first season of the show, I was determined to stick to my TBR even though I’ve been wanting to read this. Well friends, the second I picked it up I couldn’t put it down. And it snowballed because as soon as this was finished I picked up the second and then the third. So much for my TBR! I’m about 1/3 of the way through the final book. This series is amazing.]
“𝐀𝐬 𝐟𝐚𝐫 𝐚𝐬 𝐈 𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐭𝐞𝐥𝐥 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐨𝐧𝐥𝐲 𝐭𝐰𝐨 𝐞𝐦𝐨𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐤𝐞𝐞𝐩 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐥𝐝 𝐬𝐩𝐢𝐧𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐲𝐞𝐚𝐫 𝐚𝐟𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐲𝐞𝐚𝐫...𝐎𝐧𝐞 𝐢𝐬 𝐟𝐞𝐚𝐫. 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐢𝐬 𝐝𝐞𝐬𝐢𝐫𝐞.” —Deborah Harkness
A contemporary setting rich with history, this paranormal fantasy weaves science into the pages lending an overall academic feel. There was so much I loved about this story, from the highly educated MC to the forbidden romance between a witch and a vampire. Matthew Claremont has officially become my favorite fictional vampire! His portrayal takes dark and broody to a whole new level.
This story made me FEEL so much. I couldn’t stop thinking about it every time I put the book down, especially Matthew and Diana’s relationship. I enjoyed it even more than the show (which I enjoyed immensely) and I immediately picked up the second book upon finishing it. Even when I wasn’t reading it, it occupied my mind, sucking me in and immersing me. It’s officially a top favorite series.
I appreciated the balance between character growth and plot. Our MC goes from hating her magic to accepting it. Dr. Diana Bishop is well known among her academic circle. She’s a historian who studies science and alchemy. She’s respected and takes her work seriously. Moreover, she never allows her witchy magic to seep into her research, partly because she’s ruled by integrity and wants to prove that she’s earned everything—something I can relate to as a female scientist—but mostly because of a tragic event in her past that made her fear her magic. In short, she wants nothing to do with being a witch. That all changes when she calls up an academic manuscript at Oxford in the library. She attracts the attention of broody vampire Matthew De Claremont. Something about him stirs her magic, forcing her to confront who she is.
See? Perfect blend of plot and character arc!
The world building was spectacular and immersive. It was my favorite aspect of this book. Frankly, I’m SO impressed by how well this was handled. I can see some people being bored with the plot because there’s so much detail to follow, tons of historical references, quotes from famous playwrights, poems, etc. As someone who appreciates attention to detail and loves history, I wasn’t ever bored. I loved how historical fact was woven to fit the overall narrative. Moreover, given that both MCs were products of extensive historical backgrounds, their knowledge was entirely convincing, made their characters realistic.
Now, on to my favorite part: the romance. Mmm mmm mmm. I appreciated the “forbidden lovers” trope that took place here. Witches and Vampires are not supposed to mix. I loved Matthew’s hesitance because he didn’t want to put Diana in danger, but moreover, he battled his feelings for her with his knowledge of what he was. His character was in a constant internal struggle. Overall, their relationship never felt childish. After reading so much YA, I forgot what it was like to forgo all the pointless angst-bickering and have a more mature relationship unfold on the page. Honestly, it was refreshing. And believe me, there were still plenty of enemy-to-lovers vibes given that Matthew hated witches during his entire existence and Diana wanted nothing to do with him.
As I write this review, I’m already deep into the third book. These are long books and yet, I’ve breezed through them because they’ve consumed me. I’ve spent hours and hours on the couch reading, unable to put them down. The TV show is pretty good too. The third season will be coming in less than a year and I can’t wait to see more of my two favorites!