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The Book of Life: A Novel (All Souls Trilogy) Paperback – May 26, 2015
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“Weaving an extraordinarily rich story of magic and science, history and fiction, passion and power, secrets and truths, Harkness delivers an unforgettable and spellbinding finale that's not to be missed.”
“Juicy and action-packed.”
“Pure escapist summer fun.”
—Jodi Picoult, Parade
“The epic and erudite vampire-witch romance comes to a thoroughly satisfying conclusion in the action-packed All Souls trilogy ender.”
“A stirring, poignant saga.”
“The charm in Deborah Harkness’s wildly successful All Souls trilogy lies not merely in the spells that its creature characters cast as they lurk pretty much in plain sight of humans, but in the adroit way Harkness has insinuated her world of demons, witches, and vampires into ours. . . . From the novel’s poignant opening, Harkness casts her own indelible spell of enchantment, heartbreak, and resilience. . . . She is terrific at bringing her magic world to life, maintaining a fast-paced, page-turning narrative.”—The Boston Globe
“This trilogy is a superlative example in a subgenre you could call realistic fantasy—think Harry Potter but for grown-ups or Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. Witches, vampires, and daemons exist, along with time travel. But this world also is recognizably ours, not a wholly made-up setting like George R.R. Martin’s Westeros. When done well, as it is here, this sort of fiction provides characters who are recognizably human in their desires and actions even if most of them are creatures with supernatural powers. Through them Harkness succeeds at the hardest part of writing fantasy: She makes this world so real that you believe it exists—or at the very least that you wish that it did.”
“Harkness has immersed and spellbound readers with her alternative universe. . . . Her ambitious melding of scientific and historical detail is inventive and brings surprising depth. . . . The Book of Life brims with sensuality, intrigue, violence and much-welcome humor.”
—Los Angeles Times
“Secrets and mysteries are finally revealed in the entertaining and satisfying conclusion. . . . The entire trilogy is a delightful plunge into the world of magic, witches and vampires, where love breaks all rules and happy endings are possible.”
“There is no shortage of action in this sprawling sequel, and nearly every chapter brings a wrinkle to the tale. The storytelling is lively and energetic, and Diana remains an appealing heroine even as her life becomes ever more extraordinary. A delightful wrap-up to the trilogy.”
“Harkness herself proves to be quite the alchemist as she combines elements of magic, history, romance, and science, transforming them into a compelling journey through time, space, and geography. By bridging the gaps between Harry Potter, Twilight, and Outlander fans, Harkness artfully appeals to a broad range of fantasy lovers.”
“The witch Diana’s and the vampire Matthew’s quests to discover their origins and confront the threats to their star-crossed union tie up as neatly as one of Diana’s magical weaver’s knots. . . . As in the previous two installments, there are healthy doses of action, colorful magic, angst-y romance and emotional epiphany, plus mansion-hopping across the globe, historical tidbits and name-dropping of famous artworks and manuscripts. . . . It’s still satisfying to travel with these characters toward their more-than-well-earned happy ending.”
“The adventure never lets up. . . . History, science, and the unpredictable actions of paranormal characters with hidden agendas all swirl together to create a not-to-be-missed finale to a stellar series.”
About the Author
Deborah Harkness is the number one New York Times bestselling author of A Discovery of Witches,Shadow of Night, and The Book of Life. A history professor at the University of Southern California, Harkness has received Fulbright, Guggenheim, and National Humanities Center fellowships. She lives in Los Angeles.
Visit www.deborahharkness.com and follow “Deborah Harkness” on Facebook and @DebHarkness on Twitter.
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THE STORY: Having returned from the past, witch and historian Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont have to face both new and old dangers as they try to discover the importance of the Book of Life. Their lives and the lives of their unborn children are at stake as Diana and Matthew have to face old enemies and rely on old friends.
OPINION: I enjoyed this ending to the trilogy and Diana and Matthew's story even when I didn't necessarily like all the answers. The book suffers somewhat from expectations which were built over two very long and detailed books. Perhaps the answers could never truly satisfy the expectations, but I loved seeing how these two characters grew and changed and made a family for themselves.
THE BOOK OF LIFE finally answers the question that began in the first book: what is the Book of Life and its connection to Diana. In this book, the entirety of what Diana and Matthew have been building in the prior two book finally come to fruition. This story is is one about tolerance and building a family and being open to change.
I enjoyed the progression of the relationship between Diana and Matthew and how both of them accept and love all the parts of one another. There are few easy answers in this book which was good.
I certainly enjoyed seeing many of the characters in the series come together in the solution. The book ends with peace and joy and hope in the future.
WORTH MENTIONING: This book returns to the interesting combination of magic and science that was the hallmark of the first book in the series.
CONNECTED BOOKS: THE BOOK OF LIFE is the final book in the All Souls Trilogy. This book is meant to be read as part of the trilogy.
STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.
I was really eager for this 3rd book. The pacing in the second book had improved on the first, the dialogue had gotten better, and the flow was less choppy overall. I thought things could only get better in book three. Unfortunately all the style progress achieved in "Shadow of Night" felt lost in the "The Book Of Life". I almost put it down after 3 chapters - quite a statement for me, especially for a book I actually bought at full price (over $11.00 for the Kindle version!).
I carried on because I wanted to know how Ms. Harkness would end the story, but the choppiness of the scenes, plot inconsistencies, the seemingly incomplete dialogue, and the revelations experienced by the characters with no foundation laid, were frustrating. I felt like I was reading a heavily edited down version of a much larger story arc and missing some really good stuff as a result. Some scenes felt cut short, disregarding the impact of the information just introduced. Other scenes were obviously just there to move the characters along to somewhere new because the author couldn't figure out how to resolve or integrate the situation at hand.
Character development is almost nil in this last volume, which is a shame given the number of lesser characters that were brought back into play. Some of these characters were used as plot devices, but they often seemed to linger on for no reason. The were more like background actors that refused to yield the stage after delivering their only line in the play. Thankfully, I had reread the previous two books, just before this release, otherwise I would have been lost on the few backstory points that were touched on, but only so briefly as to be more irritating than informational.
Unfortunately for fantasy books like this, the magic lives in the details and I found them to be sorely lacking here. In the end, there was ultimately joy in destination but not this final leg of the journey. And the ending was tainted by the arduous path the reader is forced to endure to get there. I liked where Ms. Harkness eventually took the story, but the potential promised in the first two books of the series is never fully achieved. The underlying path and ideas she uses to get from A to B felt sound but are largely unexplored and certainly under developed. I think the editing was perhaps not done as artfully as it might have been and/or perhaps the final book was rushed to press. Maybe it was chopped to meet length or other publishing constraints. Whatever the reason, the result is that the life found in previous books seems to flat line in this finale. If this was the first book, and not the last, I would not have gone back for more.
SPOILER WARNING. DO NOT READ FURTHER IF YOU HAVE NOT YET READ THE BOOKS.
For example, after two books of buildup about how Diana helped Philippe while he was being tortured by the Nazis, they never show her go visit him, and just give some flippant excuse that "it must have happened, since he remembers it"? Indeed, if Diana can time travel, why not go back and save Philippe, Emily, her parents, etc? Also, what does the book of life say? Who wrote the book? How were the creature skins collected, etc? Is Diana always going to have a tree growing out of her neck? How will she be able to teach when she has letters and numbers in her eyes? Also, as an academic myself, I find it unbelievable that she can disappear for 1 year+ with nothing other than a quick letter, having filled out no other HR paperwork and having no discussion with her dean about who is covering her teaching load, yet still have a job to return to?