When I first heard about the All Souls series a while back, I knew I had to give it a shot. I love witches and vampires both, but only as long as neither have teen angst to go along with them. Deborah Harkness tackles both with originality and flair. And this final book in the series is an excellent end to a thrilling ride.
If you are not familiar with THE BOOK OF LIFE, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Viking:
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.
I have to confess I was a bit nervous going into this series. I wasn’t sure what to expect, especially given the literary world’s preference for sparkly vampires and such at the moment. But my jitters were unfounded; Harkness treats all of her mystical creatures with respect, and the result is an entertaining world that readers will want to visit over and over.
As with the previous two books, THE BOOK OF LIFE is written well and flows at a nice pace. Harkness delivers crisp prose and lean dialogue. I never once found my mind wandering or my eyes scanning ahead. The book logs in at 560+ pages, so this is a huge positive considering its size.
The characters are enjoyable and believable (that is, as believable as witches and vampires can be). I particularly like the banter between certain characters (such as Matthew and Chris) and how they ‘verbally joust’ with one another at times.
My favorite aspect of THE BOOK OF LIFE has to be the story, though. It is rich and lavish with intricacies inside the plot as well as a few subplots that keep you guessing. Harkness does a masterful job of weaving everything together, showcasing her talents as an upper class storyteller. The conclusion is riveting and, just as fans of the series were expecting, fulfilling. I finished the book with a smile on my face, happy with where the characters wound up.
THE BOOK OF LIFE is a definite win for me, and fans of adult urban fantasy should love it. This final book in the series hit store shelves yesterday, so give it a look for sure. And if you aren’t already familiar with the series, it is certainly well worth checking out.