Book Review: ‘The Book of Life’ (All Souls Trilogy #3) by Deborah Harkness

Book of Life Deborah-Harkness-Desktop-2014

Finales are always hard for me to write about and lately that feels like what I’ve only been writing about. Many of my favorite series are coming to an end this summer, and despite how great an ending can be, it always remains bittersweet. That is now how I feel since I turned the last page of The Book of Life, the final book of Deborah Harkness’ remarkable All Souls Trilogy.

The Book of Life begins in quite a stunning way. We are with Emily and Philippe, two deceased characters who mean a great deal to Matthew and Diana. They are looking over their family reuniting at Sept Tours and are just as breathlessly wondered as we are by Diana’s once-thought-improbable pregnancy. The exchange is between Emily and Philippe is fascinating and brings us right up to speed to where we were when Shadow of Night ended.

Matthew and Diana have come home to Sept Tours and plan to begin their fight against the Congregation. Only another even greater threat comes their way in the form of Benjamin Fox, or you may know him as Herr Fuchs from Shadow of Night. Benjamin apparently has been searching for the Book of Life as well but by seeking out much more vile methods. For centuries, Benjamin, who happens to be Matthew’s blood raged son, has been kidnapping and raping witches, in hopes to impregnate them and learn the secrets of his species: vampires. When Benjamin threatens Diana, Matthew swears to destroy him. Together with new friends and old, Matthew and Diana face political enemies, sinister dangers, and discover the truth in this epic finale.

Just like the previous books, The Book of Life is a lengthy read. Not only are we reading about Diana and Matthew’s missions, but we’re also chronicling Diana’s pregnancy and the research being done to help find a cure for blood rage in vampires. For the latter, Diana enlists her best friend Chris, a scientist who specializes in DNA and all that. Clearly, I’m not much of a science expert (at all), but since science takes up a considerable part of the novel, the author not only makes it easy to understand but connects it completely to the secrets of the Book of Life.

As for Diana’s pregnancy, Matthew is working on reconciling his blood-rage-induced protectiveness so that he cannot instinctually detect the babies as threat to Diana. It’s something his friends and family constantly remind him about, as more of them find out Matthew’s secret.

There’s a lot that goes down in this book, but Harkness does fine job of tying almost all of them together into a nice neat bow by the end. Without showering you with spoilers, some pretty cool moments do happen, my favorite being when the Book of Life is finally discovered.

The novel does have some pacing issues. The characters move around a lot, and the moments in between break up the pace. It’s notably different than the previous books because it’s clear that we’re moving headlong into a finale. It’s hard not to become impatient at points because you really want to figure out what the real deal is already!


Some disappointments were both expected and unexpected. One involves Gallowglass, and I hope if Harkness decides to revisit this world again, he becomes a central character. If he wasn’t a favorite of yours already, then this book will cement an avalanche of positive feelings for him. We don’t quite get an ending for this dear character, which left me a little heartbroken.

Another thing I found disappointing was how predictable the secrets revealed by the Book of Life were. They aren’t all that groundbreaking. If you have eyes, you can kind of figure the basis to the secrets.

Regardless of those two things, I still find The Book of Life to be a solid ending to an excellent trilogy. Diana fully comes into her own with this book, and I felt so fulfilled by seeing her become who she was always meant to be. Readers will feel the same. Between all the life-threatening altercations and dangerous missions, the sweet moments between family will resonate with readers the most, meaning that these characters transcend the words on the pages and turn out to be something more. While the adventure is fun and thrilling, I realized that I read this book and trilogy because I cared deeply for these characters, which makes The Book of Life all the more satisfying and bittersweet.

Rating: 8.5/10


All Souls Trilogy rating: 9.5/10

The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness is out today! It is available wherever books are sold.

Book info:

Publisher:  Viking (July 15, 2014)
Length: 576 pages, Hardcover
Source: Hardcover, First Edition (Provided by publisher)
Series: All Souls Trilogy – Book 3
Genre: Fiction, Supernatural, Romance
Completed: July 2014



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