It was a bittersweet moment in 2014 when history professor and bestselling novelist Deborah Harkness published The Book of Life, bringing her All Souls Trilogy, which chronicled the adventures and romantic escapades between a powerful witch and a centuries-old vampire, to a close. At the time, Harkness reflected to BookPage that although she had always envisioned Diana and Matthew’s story as a trilogy, she found it unexpectedly frustrating to stick to three volumes, because it meant she couldn’t fully explore the interesting characters and side plots that cropped up.
Now it seems that Harkness has found an ingenious workaround to her dilemma in a move that will undoubtedly thrill her fans: Her latest novel, Time’s Convert, marks the launch of the All Souls Universe, a series that expands upon the original trilogy and whose only limits are those set by Harkness’ imagination and busy schedule.
Set in the same world as Harkness’ previous novels, Time’s Convert is not simply a continuation of The Book of Life. Although Matthew and Diana do appear, it is Matthew’s son, Marcus, and his fiancée, Phoebe, who take center stage. With this couple, Harkness is allowed to do what she does best, weaving a rich and mesmerizing love story that jumps between past, present and future, as she delves into Marcus’ origin story and juxtaposes it with Phoebe’s own struggles as a fledgling vampire.
Harkness’ depictions of Revolution-era America and France are vivid and detailed, while her examination of the various ways one can form a family and all its inherent complications are thoughtful and moving. However, much of the interpersonal drama and revelations in Time’s Convert assume one has a pre-existing familiarity with the characters and world, so newcomers should start at the beginning. For those who have already read Harkness’ previous books, Time’s Convert is a welcome reunion with old friends.