Ahh I was so excited for this release after waiting 2 years for Matthew & Diana’s enthralling story to come to a close. I was so sad that it was goodbye but obviously I was way more psyched than sad. Before I hop into a review for Deborah Harkness’ third installment of the AllSouls Trilogy, The Book of Life, I’ll give you a little background on my first encounter with the series.
I began reading the All Souls Trilogy shortly after it’s Feburary 2011 release. Upon receiving an email from the Sony Reader Store promoting the first book in the trilogy, A Discovery of Witches, I was intrigued but hesitant. Quite frankly, I did not want to read a Twilight spin off (Twilight may have been a grossly addicting story but the writing was….) Ultimately, I ended up purchasing the ebook because of the eye catching cover and the alluring synopsis.
I put off reading it, in part because I was taking 18 credits that semester, but also because I was just DONE with vampires. I did finally begin A Discovery of Witches in the mornings before my intensive 3 week summer course.
Once I started I really couldn’t stop, on a daily basis it would take my breath away.
It does have its similarities to Twilight but the writing is brilliant and written on an adult level but the book is not dictated by religion. Let me explain that one… One of the things that really irked me about Twilight was that it was specifically written for Mormons. That in and of itself is not a terrible thing, it was that the story felt forced at times because of Meyer’s strict adherence to making it “Mormon friendly.” Any one who has been following my blog knows that I enjoy stories written from the heart and the mind, any forced plots are a waste of my time.
Anyway let’s get back on track. As obsessed as I am with A Discovery of Witches, I will admit it does have its flaws. The main character, Diana Bishop, drinks a lot of tea with milk and sugar, likes her toast well buttered and sleeps way more than an average adult should sleep. I must have read about her eating, drinking and sleeping habits a dozens of times. Harkness may be a scholar but her first attempt at a novel was a tad repetitive. I didn’t mind it as much but other people did. That, in combination with the ending, appeared to repel people from reading the second book in the series Shadow of Night.
Most books in a series have a plot, a conflict and a resolution different to each book; A Discovery of Witches is one exception. Harkness builds upon the global consequence of Matthew and Diana’s budding relationship using historical, scientifical and magical evidence and lore throughout the novel. The use of such evidence and lore helps Harkness along in her writing of one colossal conflict in a series of three books vs. three small conflicts in the trilogy. I believe no more than a year or two had passed from book one to book three.
I for one, am used to reading book series’ where there is a conflict and resolution in each book but I instantly took a liking to the way in which she ended her novel. I felt as though Harkness wrote in that lovely cliff hanger in order to leave her readers at the same point in which Matthew and Diana’s families were left at.
For me, it would be impossible not finishing the series because book one left me wanting so much more of the story, but that is just me.
As I said earlier, Harkness is a scholar first and novelist second but she was able to correct any repetitiveness in Shadow of Night. I don’t have any complaints with book 2, I actually thought it was fantastic.
Now that was a long introduction! 🙂
Onto my review, be forewarned there are slight spoilers ahead for those who have not read the series.
In The Book of Life Matthew and Diana have finally returned to present day Sept-Tours from 1591 England to continue their search for Ashmole 782 (or The Book of Life as it is commonly referred to) and its missing pages with a very special surprise – Diana is pregnant with twins. But alas, it cannot be a joyous occasion for Diana and Matthew as the congregation is keen on capturing Diana in addition to Matthew’s son Benjamin, who is particularly interested in Diana’s pregnancy. They must evade capture while also learning all they can about The Book of Life and where its missing pages may be.
I finished The Book of Life in 2 days and all I could do when I wasn’t reading this book was think about it. Don’t get me wrong, I really loved it but would I call it my favorite of the series? Absolutely not. Somehow it felt a bit unfinished to me – many of the story lines were not tied up. Harkness did leave enough mystery that she could continue with the series or do a spin off series.
I highly recommend this series if you like romance, fantasy, other worldly beings, science, history, wine and food or even if you just want something entertaining. 5/5