Witches, vampires and daemons are secretly among us if this brilliant (if ever so slightly long) first book of the All Souls trilogy.

A quick plot summary for those unfamiliar with the book: Diana is a witch and historian  who some how manages to recall a mysterious book called Ashmole 782. Along the way of this discovery she meets and falls in love with Matthew Clairmont and together they try and discover what this book reveals. But of course they aren’t the only creatures on the look out for this book…

On first reading the book, it doesn’t seem entirely fair to compare the plot or characters to those used in the Twilight saga but that is how it comes across. However, the intelligent way in which it is written (be prepared for lots of scientific terms) and the way in which it is structured makes it very different from the young adult novels.

It has been well thought out and planned in advance, with every character really involved with events from the moment we meet them. At the centre of this of course we have Diana, a reluctant witch because of her past and her stubbornness soon leads her into trouble as the reader soon finds out. But what really makes you root for her is her bravery and intelligence that is on display throughout.

The other characters in the book are equally well formed. Matthew Clairmont is a tortured soul who really believes he doesn’t deserve to be happy. At the same time he is extremely protective of those he cares about and will literally do anything to protect them at any cost as well as being an old fashioned gentleman.

There are so many other characters that I could mention, but I would be here for a long time. Which is one problem with the book: too many characters means it can be difficult to remember who is who and how they fit in with the story.

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Another potential weakness, is the amount of scientific and historical detail that the book goes into – means that the reader can be a little bit overwhelmed by information or even feel a little bit inferior. However, it is to the credit to Harkness that she is confident that her readers will be able to keep up with what is going on.

Brilliantly descriptive, there is plenty of action that takes place to capture and hold the reader’s attention from beginning to end and definitely leaves you wanting more. But there are some lovely tender moments between Matthew and Diana for those who like a bit of romance thrown in.

Intelligent, fast and energetic, this book has the ability to please a lot of different people no matter what their taste in books are.

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