A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES - Deborah Harkness
I had this book recommended to me a few months ago [thank you Jo!] but now I am the proud owner of a Kindle [thank you Richard!] it was child's play to order the book on Christmas Day!! Reading it, I was immediately drawn into the scholarly world of Oxford University, but from the viewpoint of a witch! O but she doesn't like to use her powers ... well not often ... and she has had NO training ... but she comes from a very old family of witches (they can be traced back to Salem). To further whet my appetite she becomes aware that a handsome Vampire (yum!) is watching her with avid interest.
My only criticism of this book is that the story is slow - there are a lot of details to impart to the reader, and a lot of back story to incorporate - I think this is often the way with book 1in a series (this is the first book of the All Souls Trilogy). I also found the central character Diana a little hard to get close to, but I loved the intense vampire Matthew who she teams up with, in fact I found him irresistible! By the last 20% of the book I was truly hooked: the 'team' has scattered to the four winds - different places and times - and I really want to know how they fare and who will survive the battle they are embarking on (sounds a bit like the premise for Lord of the Rings huh?) and, of course, what further secrets will come to light. So long as the vampires feature heavily ... I'm in!! Shadow of Night is already available in the UK.
A GREAT & TERRIBLE BEAUTY- Libba Bray
I have been wanting to read something by Libba Bray ever since I began reading other people's reading blogs in July 2012 - she was recommended on my favourite blog http://www.readingrants.org/
My local library had trouble getting me a copy to read ... Kindle to the rescue! Within minutes I have a copy in my hand, and just a few pages into the novel I am on the edge of my seat!!
The novel is set in 1895 - at first the central character Gemma Doyle is living in India but longing to come to England and attend parties and tea dances and meet potential husbands - but a terrible tragedy brings those dreams crashing down. Very soon she is bundled off to a remote english boarding school to be 'finished' according to the requirements of polite society. But Gemma is different, what happened in India has left its mysterious mark on her. She sees visions she doesn't understand and sometimes seems to 'go places' without actually leaving the moment. The girls at her newschool are cliquey and unkind, they try to 'test' her - the teachers seem rigidly bound by the rules of society and their spinsterhood - and a mysterious figure she first saw in the marketplace in India is now watching her from the woods bordering the school grounds ... how much stranger can things get? Well throw in a dead girl's diary about dabbling with magic, a secret society of new friends and Gemma's growing ability to use her 'powers' and you will see.
The action is fast paced and the social commentary on a young girl's place in society, as she moves into woman-hood, is in sharp contrast to our modern world full of choices and options. I shall definitely be getting my hands on the sequel very soon, and looking out for the film (but regular readers already know my feelings about films made of favourite books ... erk! can go either way!!)
I shall also be reading The Diviners - the novel (recommended in the Reading Rants blog) which first whetted my appetite to read books by Libba Bray. Check out the hilarious video on YouTube of Libba acting out the beginning of the book.