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The Book of Life: A Novel (All Souls Series) Paperback – May 26, 2015
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An Amazon Book with Buzz: "Sweet Sorrow" by David Nicholls
"With fully fleshed-out characters, terrific dialogue, bountiful humor, and genuinely affecting scenes, this is really the full package of a rewarding, romantic read."—Booklist Learn more
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“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
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.
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?
Top international reviews
The second book fell into the historical fiction genre and I loved it. Because the setting was so different to the first book it didn't feel like I was reading more of the same stuff and it kept the trilogy fresh. It was interesting reading about Victorian London and imagining how life may have been then and we got another perspective on how creatures were different/similar back then.
But the third book........Wth happened?! Yeah, it wasn't terrible. I think I was just expecting more based on the first two books and ended up slightly (very?) disappointed.
By the end it had morphed into a sickly romance book with the perfect wife and perfect husband with two perfect children. Diana could simply do no wrong as the perfect wife and mother, the best witch and most brilliant and clever scholar ever. Eurghhhhhh! This really started doing my head in. It was just tooooooo much. We got how great she was and didn't need to be reminded of this every chapter. Then Matthew kind of lost his vampireness and became this big snugglebum, who now and then we were reminded of his blood rage and "terrible temper" because his eyes turned black.
Then the writing.....It kept changing madly on the pov. One minute it was written in the first person, then bam, into the third person. There were sooooo many characters and every single last one of them was reintroduced into the final book. Why? Some of them being brought back was totally pointless. I think it must have been confusing tying up all the story threads throughout the books into a logical conclusion, but there were so many unfinished other storylines - I just wanted to scream. I mean what about Gallowglass? One of the major characters who had meant to be watching over Diana her entire life, and then nothing. I'm starting to think there may be a fourth book in the waiting. There were just too many loose ends and questions left unanswered. Due to the lengths of the books this surely could have been achievable, instead we got indepth descriptions of how every single character smelt and other lame irrelevant things, that could have been edited out to make space for proper conclusions.
This book also took me ages to read which was a sign I wasn't anywhere near as into it as the previous two. Sure I've been mad busy with work and going home for 6 weeks, but it still took me a looong time. I was too easily distracted and when I'm really lost in a book, it would near enough take a meteor crashing through my roof for get me out of my book trance. Would I read a fourth book or a spin off? Yes, probably. But my expectations won't be so high this time.
Diana annoyed the hell out of me as well. She just complained all the time, demanding everyone listen to her and that she’s always right. God, she obviously wasn’t as it just kept going wrong for her!!
The book itself was just too long. I think that the whole trilogy should have just been a duology. It would have saved a lot of rambling, and a lot of unnecessary side storylines. I don’t think some of them really had a point to them.
Benjamin was a completely evil character, but at the same time it was a nice change of pace (this does not mean I liked him) Everyone in the book is nice, polite, good. He was just evil, completely and utterly evil. His actions in the book were just revolting and I wish they were not as… disturbing? I get that’s him as a character but it was too much for the tone of the book.
Can I call it perfect? Maybe not, but Diana and co have kept me company a while now, and to say I'm bereft would be an understatement.
Dazzling description and vivid detail, I felt I was with them every step of the way. I can still see Diana's knots and colours as brilliant and clear as if I'd been there myself. I can hear Matthews voice, picture Gallows tattoos, feel the fear and uncertainty. The web that is woven gripped me by the throat and did'n't let go until the very end. And now I'm left to grieve.
All ends tied, no sloppy rushing for the finale, just well-paced and true to its characters, start to finish.
Here I lay, weeping in my bed, wishing for a return and ready to pick up A Discovery of Witches from its beginning. Maybe I need a day or two, maybe I need more from Deborah Harkness - to who I'd like to say thank you so very much. Read this don't miss out.
P.S. I am not interested in The next book which appears to focus solely on Marcus and Phoebe, but I would be interested in future books about Jack and the other Bishop-Clairmont children.
10 out of 10 to the writer for a well imagined and well presented engaging story!I'm
Unfortunately due to other books that I was reading I didn't have time to read the first two in this series again before starting the final book, which meant the first chapter of The Book of Life was a little disorientating for me as I struggled to remember names etc but by chapter two I was hooked, I really struggled to put it down and had quite a few days sporting some seriously heavy bags under my eyes due to reading well into the early hours the night before - hey ho who needs sleep when there is a wonderful story unfolding on the page in front of you.
The end of the book came, and lots of questions were answered BUT more were raised in my mind! I literally read the end and thought this cannot be the end surely there will be more books to come (and I sincerely hope there will be!) We got the end of Matthew and Diana's story (well as far as the Ashmole 782 is concerned and their family) But I do feel that the Gerbert issue needs to be resolved (Knox got his just desserts and so should Gerbert!) and what about the item that Phillipe's ghost gave back to Diana??? surely there must be more to come. I definitely feel the need for Gallowglass' story to be told and also would love to see how the twins grow once their powers have been realised.
I am not sure the close was satisfying enough for the end of the trilogy - or perhaps it's because I felt so vested in the characters that I am just disappointed it is over!
It's as if Phillip Pulman, Dan Brown, J.K Rowelling's, H.G Wells and Charles Dickens got together and compiled a truly intelligent mystical fable .
Well what can I say apart from that this was an absolutely amazing trilogy that for me still has a few mysteries that you will chew over and guess from years to come! And some part of me hopes that there may be another book in the future and that this isn’t truly the end for Diana and Matthew, because I am finding it hard to accept that there will be no more stories.
I love reading Deborah’s work of art, her attention to detail and descriptions of the arts, architecture and historical references she uses and her ability to bring the reader into the book as if they are experiencing and observing the story as it unfolds is truly magical in its own right .
In this last book, Diana and Matthew have a very real threat against their family and to the Weaver witches themselves especially as Benjamin is on the rampage to kidnap, torture, and impregnate witches with the help of Peter Knox and Gerbert. The search for Ashmole 782 and reuniting the missing pages, finding out what causes and cures blood rage and why other creatures are against weavers are both high on the agenda and time is running out.
Both Diana and Matthew are up against the politics and red tape of the congregation and family. With the pages so full of power, passion, love and caring for family new and old and reuniting those that will help, this is a book that you won’t want to put down or equally rush through in order to savour this last book.
I absolutely loved this trilogy and I really hope that later on in the future there would be another!
I enjoyed the return of one character especially (but no spoilers here) because I did not expect to see this character again. But it’s the detail that made it for me, for example when Diana recognises a piece of furniture in the present that belonged to them at their Greyfriars home in Elizabethan London. This made up for the fact that we see little of the magical misbehaving house in Madison, but even the thought of it now still makes me smile – oh to have such a house!
Harkness has combined her thorough historical knowledge with immense characters and a storyline you’ll never guess. She deserves a genre of her own for the All Souls Trilogy.
If you love the supernatural or old books or history there is something in this book for you, but don’t read it if you’re looking for a trashy supernatural romance because Diana and Matthew are more classy than that!
I couldn’t stop turning the pages and I’ll find it hard to read another book this year that I have enjoyed so much.
The first book was amazing and book 2, although I wasn’t originally a fan of the change of scene I became engrossed. Then book 3... I feel it was something the author wanted to close the door on, rather than finish the story. The whole idea is not one that can work for book, after book, and needs an ending but I felt this was phoned it. Other reviews mention the change in narrative... WOW, that was putting nicely. This was insane. The characters lost what I loved about them, there was no closure (at all), and I felt like the author lost her passion for the story. It is a vampire/witch love story. It’s somewhere between Twilight and Fifty Shades. It is what it is, which I love in an uncomplicated way, and as much as I miss the characters I do hope this is the last of the series. Unless there’s a whole new book 3... a new, considered ending that lets the reader know the future of the characters is safe.
Definitely read to know ‘the end’ though, hence the 3 stars instead of 2.