Book Review | Harkness explores various sides of patriarchy with Time’s Convert

Time’s Convert by Deborah Harkness

Published 2018

436 pages


Dear reader,

From the author of the best selling All Souls trilogy comes another novel with the same cast of characters. Unfortunately, Time’s Convert is just too much exposition and too little action. A story about the different aspects of raising a vampire, Harkness explores converting an adult human into a vampire in the 18th century and today versus raising children that were born half vampire and half witch. All three have their very distinct challenges.

“Full of bristle and brimstone, with the Lord and the king on his side no matter what daft position he adopted. Obadiah MacNeil ruled over our house and everybody in it. It was his kingdom.”

Harkness explores patriarchy

Patriarchy is a concept that is at the center of all 3 stories and the ways that it can negatively affect family members. Obadiah was strict to the point of abusive and eventually that caused his death. Today, we read it and we know that he probably suffered from PTSD, so we feel sympathy while also feeling the horror his family must have known.

Philippe also ruled his family with an invasive absolute set of rules that led all to conformity rather than self discovery. Unlike Obadiah, he was a good man but still his parenting style comes up lacking in the face of more modern scrutiny.

Matthew, on the other hand, is a modern father who believes in teaching his children about societal expectations while refusing to bind what is uniquely theirs. It is the tougher road but one that Matthew travels proudly if not with exhaustion.

“We are, all of us, asked to grow up too quickly. It is the way the gods remind us that life, no matter how long, is still but a breath.”

Time’s Convert lacks action and mystery

Time’s Convert is an interesting look at patriarchy and is generally speaking a good, well-written novel but it sorely lacks the action and mystery that made All Souls compelling. It was nice to read about familiar characters with the most interesting parts of the novel being a look at what it is like raising the half witch half vampire twins whose birth marked the end of the All Souls trilogy but that is the best I can say about it. I think that if the novel had focused on the twins and less on Marcus and Phoebe, I would have found it a much more interesting read and would be loudly singing its praises for all to hear.

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