Time's convert by Deborah Harkness
All soul's trilogy. Headline, 2018. ISBN 9780399564512.
(Ages: 16+) Recommended. Themes: Vampire/Historical fiction. Marcus MacNeil is a centuries-old vampire who was made during the time of the American revolution. This novelis split between Marcus's memories of the past in 18th century America and his presence in the 21st century with his lover Phoebe as she begins to make the transformation from human to vampire. He relives his own trials and turmoils and ultimately discovers what family truly means to him and to those he holds dear.
The characters of Time's convert were authentic to what time frame they were set in and felt realistic and likeable as they acted in ways that were true to what the novel painted them to be e.g. the mentor or the villain. Since many of the characters in this story were vampires the reader was able to see their attitudes and beliefs from a much older time and how these ideas conflicted with modern times. It was satisfying to see how the characters' relationships with each other grow and their thinking shifts to fit with the modern age as the experiences they endure shape them to be wiser and more mature or the opposite. In turn, the reader's relationship grows deeper as we see them struggle and overcome challenges which give us a feeling of being connected to Marcus and Phoebe.
The tone of the novel reads as a diary as Marcus tells us personally the challenges and triumphs he faced as a newly made vampire and Diana's a new mother and then Phoebes a newly made vampire in the 21st century. This creates a feeling of closeness with Marcus as we watch him essentially grow up in front of our eyes. The reader ends up caring deeply about what happens to Marcus and the people he holds dear in the story. The switching point of views in the story was an interesting a much-needed addition as we can see the thoughts, feelings and trails of Diana, Phoebe and Marcus through their own eyes. This was an effective way of driving the message of the story about the meaning of family dynamics and maternal relationships whilst also making it clear to the reader as each character's experience is different and thus the reader can look at the overarching theme from many angles.
The dialogue of Time's convert sounded extremely authentic for the 18th century and modern day. This made it easy for the reader to imagine what life was like in the different time frames and feel more fully immersed in the story itself. Another contributing factor to the story's allure was that each character had a distinctive voice which showed rather than told the reader the age, personality or even what religion the character was. This helped in not only making the characters more memorable but also aided in creating connections with the reader.
Amy Folker (Year 11 student)