In this adjunct to the All Souls trilogy, Phoebe Taylor adjusts to existence as a vampire while her vampire fiance, Marcus, contemplates his troubled past.
Ritual and necessity demand that these two lovers remain apart for three months as Phoebe learns to control her new aptitudes and hungers. The separation inspires Marcus to recall his coming-of-age during the Revolutionary War, his troubled relationship with his abusive birth father, and the vampiric rebirth that links him to a new and powerful family. His story is coaxed out of him by the witch Diana, who also has her hands full with her half-witch, half-vampire twin toddlers, who are beginning to come into their own considerable powers. Readers of the previous three books (A Discovery of Witches, 2011; Shadow of Night, 2012; The Book of Life, 2014) will undoubtedly be thrilled to catch up with Diana, her temperamental vampire husband, Matthew, and all their connections. However, those unfamiliar with the series should not jump in here, as it is assumed we already know the backstory. Phoebe’s vampiric education is interesting but also somewhat reminiscent of how Anne Rice handled the same topic in her novels (a point underscored by a cameo of Louis, the protagonist of Rice’s Interview with the Vampire). The book rambles from storyline to storyline at a leisurely pace until coming to a fairly abrupt halt with some rapid epiphanies that don’t feel entirely supported by what came before. Initially, it is strongly suggested that the book’s pivot will involve Marcus' confessing a shocking secret, but it’s actually revealed fairly early on, and another potentially climactic event, the massacre of Marcus’ vampire children in New Orleans, is almost perfunctory (possibly because it was also extensively covered in Book 3).
A moderately involving gift for fans, offering Harkness’ usual loving attention both to historical detail and romantic/familial angst, but perhaps the author will apply her talents to fresh fictional territory in the future.