Book Review

Time’s Convert

Time’s Convert

  • Author: Deborah Harkness
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Publication Date: September 18, 2018
  • Publisher: Penguin Books
  • Series: All Souls

CONTENT WARNING: blood, child abuse, mention of alcoholism, trauma, mention of domestic violence, gore, murder, mention of slavery

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

What does it take to become a vampire?

On the battlefields of the American Revolution, Matthew de Clermont meets Marcus MacNeil, a young surgeon from Massachusetts, during a moment of political awakening when it seems that the world is on the brink of a brighter future. When Matthew offers him a chance at immortality and a new life free from the restraints of his puritanical upbringing, Marcus seizes the opportunity to become a vampire. But his transformation is not an easy one and the ancient traditions and responsibilities of the de Clermont family clash with Marcus’s deeply held beliefs in liberty, equality, and brotherhood.

Fast-forward to contemporary Paris, where Phoebe Taylor—the young employment at Sotheby’s whom Marcus has fallen for—is about to embark on her own journey to immortality. Though the modernized version of the process at first seems uncomplicated, the couple discovers that the challenges facing a human who wishes to become a vampire are no less formidable than they were in the eighteenth century. The shadows that Marcus believed he escaped centuries ago may return to haunt them both—forever. 

A passionate love story and a fascinating exploration of the power of tradition and the possibilities not just for change but for revolution, Time’s Convert channels the supernatural world-building and slow-burning romance that made the All Souls Trilogy instant bestsellers to illuminate a new and vital moment in history, and a love affair that will bridge centuries.

After finishing the three books in the All Souls Trilogy, I couldn’t resist getting pulled into this captivating world again. Even though I only finished the series a few months ago, I just missed the characters and the writing so much. And to be honest? The TV show is good but does not compare. Plus, it’s over. So I get the feeling that I’m going to be revisiting this series while praying for a new Deborah Harkness novel to come out soon. 

I was so pleasantly surprised to discover that while much of the book focuses on Marcus’s back story and Phoebe’s transition to becoming a vampire, it also features equal amounts of Diana and Matthew … and the twins. As well as featuring the cast of characters that I fell in love with. 

The plot of the story ranges, with flashbacks taking us through Marcus’s history, as well as in the present day, and how the structure of the de Clermont family is changing. Each chapter starts with the date, and I never struggled to understand which POV the story was coming from, or when it was taking place. 

Marcus is such an angsty yet lovable character — he genuinely has a good heart, and it shows in all of his actions, even the ones he was beating himself up over. And I couldn’t be happier to see his connection with Phoebe, and hers with him. She didn’t have an easy time of rebirth, and it was fascinating to see what fledgling vampires go through after being transformed. I thought it was done really well, and I was both fascinated and full of empathy for these characters. Marcus’s character development is somewhat accelerated, since we see him over the course of about 250 years, but I loved how beautifully he was portrayed, and how his upbringing and past colors his present, just like the characters in the first three books.

“‘Rules may teach you to be blindly obedient, but they’re no real protection against the world,’ Marcus continued. ‘Because one day you will knock so hard against a rule you’ll break it—and you’ll have nothing standing between yourself and disaster then.’”

We also got to see what Diana and Matthew are like when everything isn’t going wrong, for the most part. They face ups and downs, like any normal couple, with some additional challenges, since one is a witch and the other is a vampire, and they have children with some … unusual needs. I also fell in love with their children, and this is definitely a prime example of a found family story.

“Matthew’s faith, his blood rage, and his overactive conscience colored everything. It made his joy, his unexpected smiles, and his forgiveness all the more precious when he was able to rise above his darker feelings.”

I was already a huge Harkness fan after the first book, and after this, I’m totally a goner for her writing. The historical detail, the vividly rendered characters, and the engrossing plot all combine so perfectly in her books, this one included. I will absolutely be waiting for a new book to be announced — hopefully we’ll get to learn more about some of the other characters!

People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.

Gasp Factor: 4

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