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Book Review – The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy #3) by Deborah Harkness

We all know I’ve been obsessed with this series the last few months. Yes, I was a late comer to this story, but for me this has been a good thing as it’s meant I haven’t had to do any torturous waiting between installments! (I’m SO impatient!) I was really looking forward to seeing how Deborah Harkness managed to tie everything up.

After traveling through time in Shadow of Night, the second book in Deborah Harkness’s enchanting series, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to face new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home at Sept-Tours, they reunite with the cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches—with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency. In the trilogy’s final volume, Harkness deepens her themes of power and passion, family and caring, past deeds and their present consequences. In ancestral homes and university laboratories, using ancient knowledge and modern science, from the hills of the Auvergne to the palaces of Venice and beyond, the couple at last learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago.

There is always a lot of detail in these books. That’s a big reason why I do love them. When it’s right for the story, I just soak it up. This last installment is no different. You can tell that every scene, every setting, every single part of this book was carefully constructed and built up through layers of description. You really can picture everything. Yes, this does make for a longer book, but I’ve always believed that not every book needs to be quick and to the point. Sometimes you just want to be able to experience every single thing that the story has to offer and I definitely did that here.

Diana and Matthew have just come back from the past, landing right in the middle of a beginnings of a war amongst the creatures. After not managing to achieve everything that they really needed to in the 1500’s they have a lot of ground to cover. Not to mention a lot of personal drama to contend with as well. I’m not kidding when I say that literally almost every event and every character is accounted for in this book.

The two of them continue on their epic love story as expected. However I am glad that they were sent off in opposite directions a few times to tackle their various tasks, because as much as I love them together, their story definitely benefited from their time apart. Not only because it allowed us to cover more (much needed) ground story wise, but it also meant we got to see more of both Diana and Matthew, without them relying on the tight duo act that they had been in pretty much the whole previous book. This made for an interesting change in dynamic…

‘Remember that in the difficult days to come, as the darkest de Clermont family secrets are exposed to the light. Remember that and you will show them all that you are Philippe de Clermont’s daughter in more than name.

As far as the other characters went, they were all accounted for and then some. Pretty much everyone who has appeared in the books at some point was covered in one way or another. I loved Ysabeau and Marcus just as much as ever and even though Philippe wasn’t really present in this book at all, thanks to his legacy he hovered in the background as one of the more main characters of the story. There were a few surprises along the way, both in appearances and in story lines. But for me the biggest surprise was how much I ended up loving Gallowglass. He absolutely was the standout in this book. I loved following his storyline and he is definitely the one I feel that I would love to follow on and find out what happens next. I have always liked him as a character but this book made me love him. In fact I would hands down say that out of the trilogy he would, along with Philippe and Ysabeau become one of my favorite characters.

But secrets are unreliable allies. They allow us to believe we are safe, yet all the while they are destroying us.’

Since this is the final book in the trilogy I can’t say too much or I’ll give away A LOT of plot, which would be such a shame since it has been such an epic journey to get here. What I will say is although I found that everything was covered, and there were definitely surprises along the way. I felt like the conclusion to the manuscript storyline, the one that started this trilogy was not quite as ‘epic’ as I thought it was going to be. I’m not sure if it’s because I had built it up in my head that there must be some type of huge revelation, or if after following 3 very long books on the subject I thought it would be earth shattering, and maybe it was? But to me it was an ending, it was a very well thought out, well executed ending, but maybe not as full of fireworks as I thought it was going to be. However in saying that I was pretty blown away with the direction that the blood rage storyline took, I loved how dark and twisty it got. Who would’ve thought that the real danger to Matthew and Diana would’ve come from within their own line and not the numerous other happenings surrounding them? It is a testament to the writing that while I was reading this final book I could see everything start to slot into place from the previous two books… Suddenly little things made sense… or niggles that I had started to shake themselves out. With these books, there is always a reason for everything…

It’s really hard to break this book (let alone this series) down into a review and give you everything I loved and everything I didn’t love so much about it. I feel like here I need to say that overall this series was an amazing read. I loved how much was packed into each book; I loved the subject matter and the characters. They are long reads yes, but if you are anything like me and enjoy romance mixed with a bit of supernatural and some amazing story telling talents then you should definitely give them a go.. Of course, if you’ve already read the first 2 books then you don’t need this review to convince you to read the last one. Your curiosity would’ve already convinced you to do so, because this is not a story that can be left unfinished…

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