Book 246: THE BOOK OF LIFE Review

The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy #3) by Deborah Harkness
ISBN: 9780670025596 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780385534857 (ebook)
ASIN: B00G3L6KQI (Kindle edition)
Publication date: July 15, 2014
Publisher: Viking Adult

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.

Diana Bishop and Matthew Clairmont have been through quite a bit over the past two books in the All Souls Trilogy. In the first book, they meet and fall in love. In the second book, they must walk through time in order to find a teacher for Diana in preparation of their battle with the Congregation (governing board that oversees daemon, vampire and witch activities and relationships). In The Book of Life, Diana and Matthew are back in contemporary times and have a lot to deal with: the Congregation, Diana’s pregnancy, their blended vampire-witch family, and the ongoing search for Ashmole 782. The big question is just what is Ashmole 782? Can it answer the questions on the origins of daemons, vampires, and witches? And what is most important, will the answers stop the Congregation from their anti miscegenation charges and protect the lives of Diana and Matthew’s children?

I actually spent the weekend re-reading the first two books in this series before reading the final book. I enjoyed becoming reacquainted with Diana, Matthew, Marcus (Matthew’s vampire son), Miriam (Matthew & Marcus’s vampire co-worker), Sarah (Diana’s aunt), Ysibeau (Matthew’s vampire mother), Hamish (Matthew’s best friend and a daemon), Marthe (Ysibeau’s friend and housekeeper), Baldwin (Matthew’s vampire brother), Gallowglass (Matthew’s vampire nephew), and more. Matthew is overly concerned with the progress of Diana’s pregnancy (what expectant father isn’t concerned about the health, safety and welfare of his spouse and offspring?). Marcus has done an admirable job in Matthew’s absence of leading the Knights of Lazarus and enlisting the assistance of more vampires, some daemons and witches, and even a few humans. Diana’s best friend, Christopher Roberts – a researcher and professor at Yale, makes a reappearance and plays a much larger role as he helps Matthew and Miriam perform genetic testing on the missing pages from Ashmole 782 and on daemons, vampires, and witches. Marcus has fallen for the Sotheby’s agent, Phoebe Taylor, and they are now engaged. There are many surprises in The Book of Life with regards to people that Diana and Matthew interact with, and rather than spoil the surprise you’ll just need to trust me on this one.

The Book of Life does answer almost all of the questions that were raised in A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night. The action in this book takes place in both Europe and the United States, primarily at Yale University in Connecticut, but also in England, France, Germany, Poland, and Italy. It was nice to read about the maturing relationship between Diana and Matthew, as well as see their integrated families continued interaction and support for one another. There are deaths (no I’m not telling you who dies) and births (well, you knew Diana was pregnant). There are battles (not on a battlefield per se), large and small. In addition to the external battles that must be fought, Matthew must contend with his blood rage and the possibility of his birth children carrying this trait. The Book of Life, for me at least, seems to be much more than the culmination of Diana and Matthew’s quest for the truth of where they came from, but a spotlight on the notion that no one has the right to say who we can love. Ms. Harkness grabbed me from the very first page and I only put down the book to fix my meals (yes it is that good). As with the previous books in this series, The Book of Life is an excellent story that mixes a contemporary story with history, a bit of magical realism, add a touch of romance, and a noble quest, and you end up with one truly amazing read.

Did I enjoy The Book of Life? YES! Can I recommend it to others? Again, the answer is Yes! What did I like about this book? Everything. What didn’t I like about this book? The only thing I don’t like is that this is the end of Diana and Matthew’s story. I had a hard time sitting down to write this review, not because I didn’t like the book, but simply because it took me almost 12 hours to get used to the idea that I’ve said “goodbye” to Diana, Matthew, and the rest of the Bishop-de Clermont family and friends. There may be some that categorize this series as fantasy (and yes it does have some fantastical elements), but it is so much more than that. If you enjoy reading well-written stories that deftly blend contemporary and historical fiction, incorporate romance, the paranormal, and more, then you’ll definitely want to read the All Souls Trilogy. If you’ve read the first two books, then you already know you want to read The Book of Life. I recommend waiting for the weekend to read this book since you won’t want to deal with any interruptions while you’re reading (again, yes it is that good).

Can’t wait until you get your copy of The Book of Life to start reading this amazing book? Read the first chapter from The Book of Life here.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Buy the Book

Available at:     BookDepository     |     Alibris