Don’t Submerge the Historian in Freezing Brownie Batter.

“There is no mistaking a real book when one meets it. It is like falling in love.” – Christopher Morley

Have you ever read a book that you felt was written specifically for you? A book, or series that, even days later, you find yourself still mourning the loss of the hold of it in your hand?

I love books. I truly, truly do. I was educated in Biology, I work as an actor/performer, and writer, but let me tell you, my leisure, even when working out? Reading. Books upon books upon books. Piles of pages where I completely and utterly lose myself. I am oft reading in multiple mediums, and have so many books on my “to be read” shelf on goodreads, it’s bordering on the ridiculous.

This past week, I had 6 solid days of glorious reading with Deborah Harkness’ novels “A Discovery of Witches” and “Shadow of Night”.

I am still lost in the world of Matthew and Diana. They are both college professors/researchers, both in the medical field(ish) she is in the study of alchemical history, he is an MD and medical researcher. They are also both active people(ish), and she works out to keep the crazy at bay. Know anyone else who has to chase away their crazy by working out?

The main complaint I read about this book via the online critics was its length. That was my favorite part. Deborah Harkness so thoroughly describes everything that you can practically smell the bindings of the books in the Bodleian Library at Oxford. She makes even the tiniest details come through in such a way that if she hints back to them later on in the series, you completely get it, and have that “OH YEAH” moment.

“DOW” is about a witch, a vampire, a book, and all the havoc one manuscript can create. Diana Bishop, an alchemical historian, on visiting professorship at Oxford, with tenure at Yale, calls down a manuscript of alchemical text from the Bodleian library, thought to be missing since the 1800s. Everybody wants this damn book. Well, everyone inhuman wants this damn book, said to be the key to the origin of their species. In the course of calling this book, a vampire, Matthew Clairemont sees Diana call this book, and decides he’s interested in both the book, and the woman. Good for Diana, because he’s ridiculously smart, sexy, and scary, and now the other creatures; not sexy, but smart and scary, want the book as well, and don’t give a lick what happens to Diana, they just want her to recall it.

Obviously, the shit hits the fan. Over and over. The secrets they do find out about the book? Well, let’s just say, they’re interesting.

The story unfolds furthur in “Shadow of Night”, which I loved even more than “DOW”, and I am going to be re-reading this series almost certainly more than once, in anticipation of the third and final book of the trilogy’s release next year.

I can’t wait to see Diana’s superwonderwitch powers activate to their full potential in the third book, and see how much more neurotic Matthew can become. My guess is that he wishes Paxil worked on the undead.

As someone with some familiarity with academia, and a morbid fascination with medical anthropology; you’d not believe what they thought as cures!-would you like a dunk in a tank of ice cold water to cure your late night randy-ness? I was simply intoxicated with all of the peculiar historical references, and talk of DNA chains. It’s like the book was talking dirty to me…smart dirty. Oh yeah, baby; alleles, Faustus, allegorical alchemical illustrations….shiver. Some people have a freak-flag, apparently, I, have a nerd flag.

Incidentally, I had NO idea I’d been a follower of Deborah Harkness’ (the author) blog! She is the woman behind Good Wines under $20! Who knew? A historian scientist wino? Clearly, we’re meant to be besties. Or, I’ll just keep reading her stuff. Either way, don’t tell the gaysian. He’s pretty set on me only being friends with one historian wino writer.

The not yummy part of the book? The food. Vampires eat raw meat. I’ll take brownies, thank you very much. I’ll take two if they’re healthier.

Healthy Brownies, well healthy-ish.

These aren’t vampire friendly, so tell your mythical creature friends they’ll need to bring their own dessert.




healthy brownies

by Cat Tan


  • 1/2 cup DUTCH PROCESS cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup 2% greek yogurt
  • 1 flax egg
  • 2 egg whites
  • 3/4 cup raw sugar
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt


preheat oven to 375F

beat wet ingredients until well mixed

sift in cocoa powder and salt

stir in flour until just combined.

pour into silicone brownie bites pan or 8″ greased square pan

bake for 18 minutes or 28 minutes, respectively

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11 thoughts on “Don’t Submerge the Historian in Freezing Brownie Batter.

  1. I cant wait to read it ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Truth be told the length is scaring me b/c I have the memory of a goldfish and I was worried that if I didn't finish it in a sitting [which no way i could!] I would forget key parts/details. But maybe this will be my exception =) I'm convinved a mark of a GOOD book is how well I can remember every tiny, painstakingly minor detail. Like Shadow and Bone and Daughter of Smoke and Bone =) ooh! you need to read Shadow!! It reminds me of Smoke and Bone meets hunger games meets crazy russian acid trip. I like.

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