14 July 2014

Review: The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness

The Book of Life by Deborah HarknessAs you already know, I was counting the days until Deborah Harkness's The Book of Life, the third book in her All Souls trilogy, became available for sale. I was fortunate enough to get an early copy of the audiobook and, as you can imagine, I listened to the book almost immediately.

All versions of The Book of Life will be on sale tomorrow, and fans of Diana and Matthew will be thrilled with Harkness's conclusion to the couple's story. Even though I'm fully aware that Harkness planned only three books, she left the door open for future installments. Diana and Matthew will have more challenges ahead of them, and I'd love to know what happens next. A fan can dream, can't she?

The Book of Life starts almost immediately after Shadow of Night ends, so there is an unbroken flow to the story. Diana and Matthew, back in modern times, are still searching for the missing pages of the mysterious old book that Diana discovered in the Bodleian Library at the start of her adventure in A Discovery of Witches. There are, however, several complications to their life and their search.

I don't want to spoil the book, so I'll be general, but the issues the couple face revolve around four principal areas, although the plot is complex and there is quite a lot more going on, especially on the individual level for some of the main characters.

  • There is a power struggle in Matthew's vampire family.
  • Matthew must face his battle with "blood rage," an illness that seems to run in some vampire families.
  • Diana must make decisions about who she really is and wants to be.
  • Diana's pregnancy has unexpected and far-reaching consequences.
These issues cross and weave and tangle together but also have their own paths. Harkness handles the many layers of her story brilliantly, and readers will find surprises and satisfaction.

Besides the science, lore, religion, personal histories, and deep histories that are all consistent with the world as Harkness created it, I especially loved the genetics aspects to this story, which took me back to my former life (about 30 years ago) when I was earning my doctorate as physical anthropologist and geneticist. Read in the context of a world that contains deamons, witches, and vampires, Harkness did an impressive job with subtly bending the science to work for her purposes.

There's plenty of action in The Book of Life, and although I was sure that Diana and Matthew would have a future, it wasn't always clear just what that future would entail. I was pleased that both characters grew and came into themselves, and I rooted for them to find peace and compromises that would keep their relation strong and healthy.

I love Deb Harkness's world with its blend of science and fantasy, which makes me want to believe that more than just humans walk among us. The Book of Life is a great ending to one of my favorite trilogies. And though I understand that leaving your fans wanting more is often the right place to stop, I sure hope Harkness will consider writing about Diana and Matthew again.

As I mentioned, I listened to the unabridged audiobook (Penguin Audio; 23 hr, 52 min) read by Jennifer Ikeda, who also read the previous books in the series. As I said in my other reviews, Ikeda does a great job with the accents and languages. She created consistent and distinguishable voices for all of the characters and had a nice sense of pacing. I highly recommend the audiobooks.

Published by Penguin Group USA / Viking, 2014
ISBN-13: 9780670025596
Source: Review, both print & audio (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


rhapsodyinbooks 7/14/14, 8:02 AM  

Well gosh I have been avoiding these but it sounds like you're saying I should read them....

bermudaonion 7/14/14, 8:57 AM  

My sister read the first book in the series and loved it but I don't think they're for me.

Daryl 7/14/14, 9:49 AM  

i am so looking forward to reading this .. thank you!!!!!!!!

Vasilly 7/17/14, 11:24 AM  

I can't wait to read this! Your review makes me so happy. It's not often that a series ends well.

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