Book Reviews

The Book of Life (Deborah Harkness)

The Book of Life (Deborah Harkness)The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness
Series: All Souls Trilogy #3
Published by Headline Book Publishing on 09-04-2015
Genres: Fantasy, Vampires, Witches
Pages: 656
Format: Paperback

The highly anticipated finale to the #1 New York Times bestselling trilogy that began with A Discovery of Witches

After traveling through time in Shadow of Night, the second book in Deborah Harkness’s enchant­ing series, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to face new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home at Sept-Tours, they re­unite with the cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches—with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its miss­ing pages takes on even more urgency. In the tril­ogy’s final volume, Harkness deepens her themes of power and passion, family and caring, past deeds and their present consequences. In ancestral homes and university laboratories, using ancient knowl­edge and modern science, from the hills of the Auvergne to the palaces of Venice and beyond, the couple at last learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago.

With more than one million copies sold in the United States and appearing in thirty-eight foreign editions and translations, A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night have landed on all of the major bestseller lists and garnered rave reviews from countless publications. Eagerly awaited by Harkness’s legion of fans, The Book of Life brings this superbly written series to a deeply satisfying close.

SPOILER ALERT: As book 3 in a trilogy, this review may contain spoilers for the previous books, so stop here if you don’t want to see them!

Plot: ★★★

I loved both A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night, so I was really excited for The Book of Life (though also nervous because sometimes series endings are disappointing).  Needless to say, The Book of Life was wonderful, and I’m sad the series is over!

The storyBack in the present, Diana and Matthew are reunited with their families to finally hear about what’s going on in the present day, and also to talk about what they found in the past.  The hunt for Ashmole 782 continues with growing urgency as threats to Diana and Matthew’s family seem to increase day by day.

My feelings about the plot are a little bit conflicted – on the one hand, I was absolutely hooked by it.  On the other hand, one thing I’ve loved about this trilogy is that it’s so unique.  It doesn’t feel like every other vampire or witch story, but unfortunately there was at least one moment in this when my heart sank and things felt a little reminiscent of Twilight.  Thankfully, the moment was fleeting but I did feel that The Book of Life was more cliche in places than the previous two books in the series.

Having said that, I really enjoyed the story, and although I adored the time-travelling, historical fantasy feel of Shadow of Night, I enjoyed the return to the urban fantasy that made me fall in love with the story in the first place.

The characters

Although I certainly like Diana and Matthew, the supporting characters have been one of my favourite things about the trilogy from the very beginning, and that remains the case in The Book of Life.  I adore Gallowglass, who’s so reliable and is a like having a loyal bear.  I can’t help but feel for him in this book, and he was probably my favourite character.  I also love Ysabeau, with her fiery nature but her appearance of always being cool and collected – she reminds me of Olenna Tyrell; they both have that perfectly civilized mask hiding an iron stubborn streak, and above all, a determination to look out for their families.

The large cast means we sometimes don’t see as much of particular characters as I’d have liked – I’d have loved to see more of Chris and Miriam for example – but the characters are great.  I loved that we got to see so much of Marcus, and also his relationship with Phoebe.  Sarah felt a little looked over at times: I sometimes felt she was being treated too much as the grandmother, although I perhaps enjoyed the moments when she steps to the forefront more because of it.

final thoughts

A brilliant end to the trilogy, I’m sad to see the story end, and I’d love to see Harkness return to some of the secondary characters letter on!  The three books feel very different, and yet totally complementary: A Discovery of Witches was a slow building fantasy romance, while Shadow of Night had a more complex historical feel.  The Book of Life manages to tie the two together perfectly; it had it’s own slightly faster, and also slightly darker plot, but it also gave us resolution to the questions regarding Ashmole 782, Diana’s magic, and the romance that blossomed in the first book.

Buy it? This one would be worth buying for me, and I love how the UK paperbacks look together too!
In a nutshell: A great ending to a wonderful series, I’m disappointed that it had to end, but very happy with the way that it did.

Other Reviews of The Book of Life: That’s What She Read | Curiosity Killed the Bookworm | A Fantastical Librarian

1 thought on “The Book of Life (Deborah Harkness)

  1. i would say i am in, but i would fail out very soon as i get the no byiung books under control, some one drops copies of a series on me good luck, i will watch from the wings and try to take pointers on self control and saying no

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