Review: The Book of Life

16054217Title: The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy #3)

Author: Deborah Harkness

Rating: ★★★1/2

Provided Synopsis: 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.

Review: As far as series conclusions go, I believe The Book of Life provided plenty of present-day conclusions and long-searched-for answers for these characters and their journeys, especially when it comes to the revelation of what the discovery of witches actually was. Diana and Matthew have returned from their time spent “time-walking” in the sixteenth century to the current world and the problems they have created for themselves and others within it. The covenant of creatures continues to threaten the relationship between a vampire and a witch, and now that Diana is pregnant the future of their children is at stake. How can a vampire and a witch come together to have a child is what plenty of people want to know. Does this union between species cause concern for the longevity of others? To forge a path for the future they wish to live together, Diana and Matthew, along with their families and friends, must search for answers using science and literature. With the most important piece of literature, of course, being the book Diana accidentally called up from the depths of Oxford’s Bodleian library when the story began. What does The Book of Life know?

I think it is important for me to note that while I received answers from this conclusion, I simultaneously managed to feel a bit removed from all that happened in this story. Every book in this trilogy has been lengthy for it is the story of a journey. But at times the length and wandering of the storyline could remove me from everything that occurred. Did I ever actually feel the love between Diana and Matthew, or had I always just been told that it existed rather than shown its depths? In the end, I feel very under whelmed by these two characters and more interested in the supporting characters that surrounded them, specifically their children, Gallowglass, Marcus, and another whose name I will not reveal because it is a spoiler. No matter the series it is always a disappointment when you end things with little care for the main pair you went on the journey with.

As returning readers will know, there has been a large amount of historical fiction and science interwoven within this trilogy. Compared to the previous book which was set in England during the sixteenth century there is very little of the historical fiction in The Book of Life, so take that as you will in regards to your genre tastes. The science, however, is very heavy-handed in this conclusion so be sure to prepare for that. With so many of these characters having an immortal life span the end of the story is left open-ended to invite speculation and perhaps the continuation of stories from the perspective of other characters (I vote for Gallowglass, please). Overall it was decent, but I leave with plenty more to be desired.


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