Thursday, July 31, 2014

Book Review: The Book of Life, by Deborah Harkness

Note: The Book of Life is the third and final book in Deborah Harkness’s All Souls Trilogy. The first and second are A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night. These are not standalone books, and I would highly encourage you to read them in order. There are many characters, so it’s best to read the books close together so you can keep track of all of them.

In Book 1, A Discovery of Witches, we meet Diana, a witch, and Matthew, a vampire, as well as the numerous witches, vampires, daemons and humans who secretly populate our world. Matthew and Diana are both researchers and professors, and they have stumbled upon Ashmole 782, an ancient book that contains all the secrets of how the world’s many creatures are connected. In Book 2, Shadow of Night, thanks to Diana’s magic, she and Matthew time travel back to Elizabethan London to uncover the history of the book and meet many creatures who will aid them in their search for knowledge. Finally, in Book 3, The Book of Life, Matthew and Diana (now married and expecting twins) return to the present to destroy those who are determined to get to Ashmole 782’s secrets before them and use them for evil purposes.

The Book of Life is a worthy successor to the two previous books in the series. We see Diana grow much stronger in her confidence as a witch, and therefore in her powers. She begins to realize that she can’t hide from her identity any longer and must use her magic to fulfill her destiny. We also see Matthew grow stronger as he constantly strives to control his blood rage and overcome his guilt over his history as the family’s “assassin.” Yes, this vampire has a conscience, and it controls him more as his love for Diana grows. Matthew and Diana must unite their unique powers and strength to destroy Benjamin, a vampire whose blood rage has gone out of control, as he mercilessly kills humans and creatures alike to conduct his research into how certain witches and vampires, like Matthew and Diana, are able to reproduce. Fair warning: Many of Benjamin’s torture scenes are tough to withstand.

Despite being 550+ pages (in my library’s hardcover version), I tore through this book as the plot turns kept me mesmerized. Would Diana and Matthew be able to uncover the secrets of Ashmole 782? Would their twins be born as vampires or witches? Would the various creatures ever find peace together or would they continue to destroy each other? And would Diana be strong enough to save them all … especially her husband from the hands of Benjamin? Fortunately, all of these questions were answered satisfactorily by the end of the story. The Book of Life is filled with action and suspense, and I hope that Harkness will write a spin-off series so we learn more about the future of some these characters!

2014 Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge

Disclosure: I checked this book out from my local library. No products or compensation were provided for this review.

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