Book Review: The Book of Life (Book 3 of the All Souls Trilogy) by Deborah Harkness

the book of life

“It’s one thing to wander in the darkness because you know no different, but it’s quite another to enjoy the light only to have it taken from you,”


Author: Deborah Harkness

Publisher: Penguin Books (Viking Adult)

Publication Date: 2014


Goodreads Summary:

After traveling through time in Shadow of Night, the second book in Deborah Harkness’ 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.


My Thoughts:

Okay, so for this review, I’m going to sort of bounce back and forth between looking at this book itself and the All Souls Trilogy as a whole.

So this whole series for me was a love-hate relationship. Sometimes I was super into it and couldn’t put it down, but other times I was dragging my feet through it. This last book was again a little bit of both, but to be honest, the last half of the book was fantastic. I kept looking at it going, why couldn’t the rest of the series been like this? These books are pretty intimidating because of the size and the font is super duper small. I was determined to finish it. The second book was mostly me dragging my feet through it, but it was really the plot that kept me going.

It is obvious that Harkness has done her research. There is so much detail written into these books, like so much. So much in fact that it can sometimes bog down the story for me. I cannot determine what is necessary to remember or not. I just found myself at times going, really? Was that necessary to go on for a page? It wasn’t. This is probably due to her background as a professor. I have to admit that it sometimes did read like a textbook. I just wish that more of that energy was focused on witches and had a bit more of a creative spin on it.

The plot was original and appealing, with a mix of sorcery, vampires, alchemy, and history (and even some references to other literary works). I liked the spin she took on witches, like Diana’s abilities and the witch hierarchy. I just wish that there was MORE ABOUT WITCHES. Like vampires are cool and stuff but COME ON. I want to learn more about that! I do feel like this would make an awesome television series though.

The one thing that bothered me a lot (and if you read some of the other reviews it bothered other people a lot), was the relationship between Diana and Matthew. It just did not seem okay or healthy. I know that vampires being predatory and territorial is a part of the plot, but it still didn’t make some of the things he did okay. I just felt like Diana’s identity was lost sometimes throughout the story. She became “Matthew’s husband” instead of “Diana Bishop.” He was so incredibly controlling that I just wanted him to go away. I would be okay with this if Diana stood up for herself from time to time, but mostly she allows herself to be treated in a certain way. I will say that in the last half of the book she won me over a little bit more.


My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars