The story starts with a romance between a witch and a vampire and grows from there. Several of her characters are very ancient vampires. They're living in the modern-day world -- reading newspapers, using computers, flying in helicopters and planes and enjoying other modern-day conveniences -- no doubt, there are microwaves in vampire kitchens, they've got new steam washers and power-saving gas dryers, and they're now getting into iPads, and of course, because they are ancient, they have what I have always wanted in this life -- vast, anonymous wealth, as well as profound knowledge about profound, ancient things. The vampire hero who has all of this, is also this incredibly nice guy. Oh, she tries to make him seem fierce and dangerous, but he's so good-looking (and smells so good), and he's so incredibly kind to his beloved that it's hard to feel that wonderful, nasty edge of danger you usually have with a vampire hero. I'm hoping that she expands his story in book 2 or 3 because she drops a lot of hints about his vampire past in book 1, but the chief theme is about the witch figuring out how to be a witch and all of the danger attached to her doing this and having a vampire lover. There's considerable detail that unfolds about the witch. The romantic stuff is highly satisfying, and I'm sure Ms. Harkness' coterie of worshipful fans will be deep indeed.
I don't have any issues with the shape and details of the fantasy, but I must say that questions came up for me . I wanted to know things like, what did these really old vampires think when telephones came along? Or telegraph? How about cars? A really old entity would have spent the bulk of his/her life making do with horse transport of one sort or another. Was getting their first car as exciting as I would imagine it to be? What was it like for them when they first went up in an airplane? Used a vacuum cleaner? Went to the movies?
What about tv? What about game shows? What about the book "Dracula?" They must have laughed themselves silly reading that one -- or seeing Bela Lugosi. Ms. Harkness' story talks about vampires' slower metabolisms. Does their hair only grow an inch every 10 years? What about their nails? Are there vampire barbers and hairdressers and dentists and doctors? Do they need vampire urologists and gynecologists (because they don't have children the traditional way)? These are all questions I've asked myself while in the shower or washing dishes or doing other mindless chores. I'll be very interested to see if any or all of them are answered in the course of volumes 2 and 3 of this trilogy. Which, by the way, is entitled "The All Souls Trilogy."