4 1/2 Stars
The second book in the All Souls Trilogy centers around Diana and Matthew's trip back to Elizabethan England. They set off into the past with two goals in mind - find a witch to teach Diana how to use and handle her magic and to find the Ashmole 782 manuscript. They believe it tells of the origin of vampires, witches, and daemons, and are especially interested to find if it has the three missing pages.
The time travel was very odd in the sense that when present Matthew goes into the past, past Matthew disappears. There can't be two Matthews in the same time. Does past Matthew just lose that time then? Does present Matthew now carry the memory of that time period for both past and present Matthew? It's all very confusing. But time travel usually is for me.
Because there no longer is a past Matthew, present Matthew takes up like he is past Matthew. He continues his work as spy for Queen Elizabeth and reestablishes his friendships from that time period. Matthew is well situated in the Elizabeth court and great friends with well known players at this time - Christopher Marlowe and Sir Walter Raleigh, to name a couple. It's almost ridiculous how many famous past people make an appearance in this book. Diana even comments on this fact, saying something like - "Who doesn't Matthew know?" I loved how Harkness included Shakespeare in this book. I kept waiting for him to show up; he is mentioned a bazillion times by other characters. But Harkness keeps him off stage (hehe) until one neat little scene.
Matthew and Diana do spend the majority of their time in London, but they start out in Woodstock, make a trip to Sept-Tours in France when Matthew is summoned by his father, and they make a trip to Prague to follow a lead on the manuscript. The beginning was probably the slowest part of the story for me. Diana is having a harder time acclimating to this time period. It's just too obvious she is not from that area or any known area. She has to spend time learning how to talk and act to fit in. It was slow going for me, but I also like the fact that Harkness included this. Many time travel stories completely skip over just how difficult this would be. We act and talk so completely different from people in the past.
The book gets most interesting for me when Diana finally finds someone to help with her powers. She has very exciting and limitless ways of using her powers. Favorite quote from this part of the book - "Magic begins with desire. The words come much, much later." I can't wait to see how Diana uses this new knowledge in the present against those out to harm her and those she loves.
I can't end this review without discussing Matthew and Diana's relationship. It was frustrating, both for them and me. They love each other, they grow closer, but Matthew doubts himself. Can he control his blood rage? I (and Diana) think he has finally gotten past that doubt, and then he gets all moody and distant, and Diana has to push past his idiocy and talk him into trusting their bond. I really do hope we see less of this in the final book.
ARC provided through NetGalley.