3 stars (maybe 3.5 if I am being generous
- in all honesty I am disappointed I am not giving this a higher score as I was expecting to really love this book)
I was expecting the usual 400 pages or so as per the avereage PNR book, but it is actually quite a bit longer at around 600 pages. Initially I thought this was great as I was really enjoying the adventure/story and it meant it wouldn't end any time soon...but I wonder now whether this was a part of its downfall as the same story could have been told just as well, perhaps better, in less.
It started out relatively fast-moving - not in that there was any particular 'action' but in that a lot of things happened constantly and there were many diffeent strands to the story, so although it feels like it is going on forever, I didn't get bored to begin with. I liked Harkness' style of writing - the amount of description (although later in the story I think there was too much description and not enough action), the numerous different relationships and characters we are meeting and the way events/things are gradually being revealed so it keeps you turning the page.
When I think back on the book, a lot does happen - you go from Oxford to France to the US. You meet witches, vampires, demons. We learn about events in history, all sorts of interesting facts about alchemy, and evolution, numerous mysteries are beginning to be unravelled and there is even a bit of info about goddesses and "timewalking" but somehow around 2/3 of the way into the book, I felt there was just too much information with a lot of talking and planning and not a lot of doing...and even though I initially loved the idea behind the story, I found myself slowing down and had to motivate myself to go back and finish it off.
I am glad I did though, as it picked up again towards the end - but I didn't end loving it like when I started it.
There were some interesting secondary characters though - I have to say I am quite looking forward to seeing more about them in the rest of the series. Although some were a little 2D, especially the baddies - you didn't learn much about them at all...
Oh and there is a definite cliff-hanger
- not a lot is resolved and you HAVE to read the next in the series to get any sort of closure. Now I don't mind that so much, and I don't mind waiting til next year to read the second one, as I probably couldn't have picked up the next straight away anyway - but I know this will bother some people, so be warned before you pick this up to read!
Finally, I do have a major gripe with the main characters that kept bugging me [although not really a spoiler, don't read this paragraph if you don't want to know ANYTHING about the characters]
- the main thing being that Matthew is so controlling towards the end. Or maybe it isn't Matthew that is controlling but that I felt Diana turns into a bit of a weakling...much is made of her bravery throughout the book and when she is in Oxford she is quite stubborn etc, but then I felt she almost went through a bit of a character change - eg constantly letting Matthew make decisions and not even asking what they are or an explanation for why...or for instance on the numerous occasions that she knows he is keeping something secret but not even asking him about it! So I can't really blame it on Matthew's character, as perhaps if she actually asked him he would tell her...he said all along he doesn't like lies after all!
So to sum up, I think probably this book started somewhere near 4.5 - 5 stars for me, but unfortunately ended nearer 3 (and at times even wandered into 'do not like' territory), so combined with the fact that I almost didn't finish it, I have rated it a 3 overall.
I think it is worth reading if you don't mind wading through lots of details and you like a little bit of history and not a huge amount of action - the romance is also pretty tame - whilst fun in the beginning with the tension and getting to know each other, it was a little boring and dare I say it, almost wooden towards the end...
Very disappointingly I can't say I was in love with the lead characters by the end of it and I wasn't upset to come to the end, which is unusual for me.