Tuesday, July 15, 2014

THE BOOK OF LIFE by Deborah Harkness


I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.

**NOTE:  Although I try to be VERY careful about spoilers, I have to allude to previous books in the trilogy for this review. There may be general spoilers and allusions to events
in the first two books.**

It has been a long wait for the final book in the ALL SOULS TRILOGY but it is almost here!  Although I have never been a big fan of books about witches and/or vampires, something about this particular trilogy pulled me in from the very beginning. I always recommend these books to fans of Diana Gabaldon. The first book, DISCOVERY OF WITCHES, introduced us to scholar Diana Bishop who accidentally calls up a mysterious book at the Bodleian Library that turns out to be a book coveted by witches, daemons, and vampires alike. Diana has never manifested any powers even though she comes from a long line of witches.  Her quiet life as a scholar is compromised when she discovers Ashmole 782 and attracts the attention of other creatures including the mysterious vampire Matthew Clairmont.  The two become embroiled in the conflict surrounding the mysterious manuscript while engaging in their own forbidden romance.  In SHADOW OF NIGHT, we continued to follow Diana and Matthew's relationship as they journey to Elizabethan England to hide from the creatures seeking to exploit Ashmole 782 while giving Diana time and help in learning to cultivate and understand her powers.  Two years later, it is time to finish Diana and Matthew's story in BOOK OF LIFE.

The BOOK OF LIFE picks up where SHADOW OF NIGHT left off with the return of Diana and Matthew to the present.  Diana has greatly developed her powers during her time in the past but is keeping quiet about her new talents. Diana and Matthew try to settle into their life together after all the changes they experienced in the past including the fact that Diana is now officially a member of the de Clermont family thanks to Philippe.  Diana must figure out her new position, her new powers, and creature politics while keeping the secret about a very specific change in her that occurred in her that she brought from the past. All of the characters are back as the de Clermont family readies themselves to take on the creatures looking for the Book of Life as well as fighting the Congregation.  Diana and Matthew must hurry to find the missing pages of the Book of Life before their enemies do.  In the meantime, they face a new threat in the form of one of Matthew's vampire children who threatens to destroy everything.

I thought Harkness did a great job in tying up loose ends and finishing the trilogy. I felt perfectly satisfied when I finished the book although I was disappointed that one character didn't get a clear ending.  I would love to see Harkness choose some of the characters from these books (Nathaniel/Sophie/Margaret or Gallowglass, for example) and give them their own book or books. I hate to leave the characters behind. Harkness has created such a fascinating world.  I find it amusing that she omits a lot of the less attractive aspects of vampires such as only being able to come out at night, never being able to consume anything but blood, etc.  It certainly makes them more attractive! With her intricate descriptions of vampire politics and bloodlines, it is clear that she has thought a great deal about the intricacies of this world that she created.  It is really fascinating!

I have heard people describe Harkness' books as "bodice rippers" and I would have to disagree. Although the books contain a good deal of romance and sex, the sex scenes are modest and do not go into intimate detail.  In my experience, "bodice rippers" tend to be of "Romance" genre and include some pretty specific and graphic descriptions of sex that tend to involve heaving bosoms and the ripping of clothing. These books do not.  What you WILL find is romance, mystery, time travel, action/adventure, history and much more.  The books are wonderfully entertaining and make for terrific vacation reads.

BOTTOM LINE: Highly recommended!  If you are looking for a highly entertaining vacation read, these books are for you!  BOOK OF LIFE comes in at over 570 pages and I finished it in two days. I couldn't put it down!  Very fun books!

I hope they consider making movies or a television series out of these books. I already have a cast in mind:

My Picks for an All Souls Trilogy Cast

Buy the book here and enjoy!!!

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