Book review and book signing of Time’s Convert by Deborah Harkness

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From the No. 1 New York Times bestselling author of A Discovery of Witches, a novel about what it takes 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 employee 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 be a vampire are no less formidable than they were in the eighteenth century. The shadows that Marcus believed he’d 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.

On September 24th I went to Barnes & Noble on the Upper West Side to hear Deborah talk about Time’s Convert.

The main theme of Time’s Convert centers around parenting. The book is split into three stories: Diana and Matthew with their 18 month old twins, Marcus reminiscing about his early life, and Phoebe’s first 100 days as a vampire.

Phoebe’s chapter titles are numbered to tell how many days old she is as a newborn vampire. New born vampires have a faster development and each day represents a year.

The Bishop-de Clermont family have been through the wringer and need a break. So they get a summer vacation with no dire life or death situations.

Being a historian, Deborah was somehow going to weave history into her book. Diana can’t time walk in this story because she has too many responsibilities being a wife, mom, witch, and a professor with tenure, so Marcus reminisces about his life as a human and as a young vampire.

The story is also about kids rebelling, and Marcus is certainly a rebel having served in the American Revolution and being a fan of Thomas Paine. In contrast, his vampire father, Matthew, is from the Middle Ages, so they sometimes clash. Deborah has fun writing those moments.

Writing a story that took place during the American Revolution allowed Deborah to become a student again because her focus is the 16th century Europe.

Deborah said she wants to write more stories in the All Souls world like this, where it moves forward in time and we get to see how the twins grow but also incorporate elements of history. So it will be an ongoing series, instead of another trilogy where there is a beginning, middle and end.

Deborah writes long hand for her first draft. She writes in loops where she’ll write a scene or maybe just two lines of dialogue, then do some research and go down that route before returning to a scene. She was writing The Serpent’s Mirror about Matthew’s life with the Tudors, but then Matthew “stopped talking” and Marcus wouldn’t stop. And that is how we got this book first. She also is writing a story about Gallowglass.

She read a scene from Chapter 9 where Marcus meets Sarah Bishop during the American Revolution. She chose that scene because it was not considered a spoiler since it is mentioned in ADoW. (I liked that scene very much.)

The B&N special edition I bought has a deleted scene from Marcus’ POV during Shadow of Night. The scene didn’t fit with the theme of this book and was taking it off course. It was a nice surprise to get that little extra moment, especially since SoN is my favorite of the trilogy.

When my sister and I went up for the signing we told Deborah we’d be going to the A Discovery of Witches panel at NYCC. She said NYCC was the kick off for US promotion of the TV adaptation.

 

My review:

My favorite part of Time’s Convert was Marcus’s story, especially the beginning, when he was a warmblood. The developing during those chapters was really well though out. However, the further the story went into is vampire life the more rushed and summed up it felt, especially when he was in New York and New Orleans. I also wish Matthew had more involvement with Marcus’ life when he was a young vampire. Still, I liked the insight we got of Marcus and his life,liberty and pursuit of happiness.

As Deborah said at the event, the Bishop-de Clermont family have been through the wringer and need a break. Although their parts were slower and not suspenseful, I liked that they got to have a normal – or as normal as they can be – summer. There was some drama and loads of cuteness with cameos from beloved family members.

Phoebe’s story was my least favorite part but that might have more to do with the fact that I was never that into her. She was just there in the trilogy, for me. I did like the insight into the infancy of becoming a vampire, the rules and the adjustments.

I think all together that each story was well balanced and the pacing was just right. Although it wasn’t the story I was expecting to be published next, and I can’t say it is my favorite book set in this world, it was an enjoyable read.

Favorite quotes:
This made me laugh. Harry Potter shout out?
Nook- page 88: “But Matthew and I agreed long ago that we weren’t going to hide who we were from the children. I don’t want them learning what magic is from television and movies.”
“Goddess forbid.” Sarah shuddered. “All those wands.”

Nook- page 89: “Rules may teach you to be blindly obedient, but they’re no real protection against the world.

Nook- page 107: “It took me eighteen hours to bring that boy into the world, and no time at all for some idiot with a gun to steal him away.” Mistress Bishop pulled a small bottle out of her pocket. “War is such a waste of women’s time.”

Nook – page 317: “If a vampire were to abstain from traveling to places occupied by his former enemies, there would be nowhere on earth left to go.”

Nook – page 418: “I’m just a vampire, not Van Gogh.”

3.5 out of 5 Griffins

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