Do You Believe In Magic?

The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness : A Review 





Come on Natalie I know you hear me!

(No I don’t!)



First, you need to put the book down. Second, you need to get your sweet ass to writing your review so that others can know just how wonderful the highly anticipated third book in the All Soul’sTrilogy by Deborah Harkness is. Third, you are talking to yourself in written form, so everyone can see your inner dialogue, you crazy Wench! Fourth, my/your last point is that you’ve already read the book once, before everyone else has had a chance to, so don’t be greedy.

So let your crazy show!

THE BOOK IS SO GOOD I DON’T WANT TO PUT IT DOWN! (And I don't care that my crazy is showing one bit!) However for you, lovely readers, I’ve waited until the absolute last minute to do so. I’ve now left the highly dynamic world of Diana and Matthew for you. It is because I love you, and without our readers I would not be in such a place to read books like The Book of Life in advance. So with that being said you better follow me through the jump, for the short time I have set the book aside, so that I can share with you my thoughts on the final installment of what is, by far, one of the best trilogies I’ve read. 

It begins with absence and desire

It begins with blood and fear.

It begins with a discovery of witches.

-Intro to A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

A few weeks ago my life changed, not nearly to the level that Diana’s life changed on that September evening in the Bodleian Library in A Discovery of Witches, but monumentally changed nonetheless. I had asked the question “Will I be lucky enough to get my hands on The Book of Life before others?” As Harkness says in her books “Magic is a desire turned real” and the day I came home from work to see a package at my front door, my desire turned real and magic happened! (Thank you BARB!)

Maybe it's just me.

The Book of Life, the third installment of The All Souls Trilogy, has been a long time in the making. I know my journey with the series started with a People Magazine synopsis of A Discovery of Witches back in 2010. And like a dying woman needing water, I read book one quickly, only to wait one excruciating year for the second book Shadow of Night to be released. Traveling back to 1591 with Diana and Matthew in Shadow of Night made me want to be a time weaving witch so that I could bring forth the third book faster! I, like any good spell weaver/book pusher, got several of my friends hooked on the first two books and was promptly banned from giving them any other books that were in a series or trilogy that was not completed. Though my desire for book three was beyond strong--I was truly obsessed--I knew I was okay with waiting. For I did not want Deborah Harkness to rush through what she announced would be the last book for Diana and Matthew, so I was willing to let her take her time with the completion of the series. 

Mind you, I did not have a say in the matter but I desired the best ending possible for my Diana and Matthew, and now having read the book, I again feel that magic has happened and that my desire has turned real.

With the manuscript at my door I ran inside my house and ripped open the packaging from the publishers. I, like any good Witch Historian, put my hand on top of The Book of Life the same way Diana put her hand on top of Ashmole 782, and it sighed for me. (Fan girl much!?  Shh inner voice I’m telling my story and writing the review you told me to.)

The book knew it was home where it should be and I opened the cover and smelled the new hot off the press copy I had. It smelled nothing like the Ashmole 782, thank goodness! I so don’t want to truly know what that book smells like! Instead, it was one of my favorite scents in the world; New Book smell! It was then that I blocked out the world I live in (You did not sleep and could not concentrate on work. Ok, inner voice you are starting to sound like Gollum. Now SHH!) and went traveling with Diana and Matthew on the next and final stage of their journey.

Here I come adventure!
The Book of Life starts off where A Shadow of Night had left me dangling by my nails from a cliff, in front of Sept Tours in present day after Diana and Matthew have returned from their trip to 1591. Then for the next 561 pages I watched/read as Deborah Harkness wove her own magic through the power of words and created a perfect 10th knot of a book. Harkness managed to convey very powerful messages about self worth and acceptance. Acceptance of not only who you are as a person but acceptance across racial boundary lines, religious differences, and sexual preferences all while giving you a history and a biology lesson. I think the most powerful lesson that was reconfirmed for me in these three books, especially number three, is that you should understand history and learn from it but not repeat it. I received all of Harkness's messages whether they were intentional or not, without feeling like I was getting any particular set of views slammed down my throat, and felt they flowed very organically with the story.   

I was totally and thoroughly engrossed in the fast moving pace of book 3 and I found myself crying, laughing, and if this had been a movie I was definitely at the edge of my seat as the plot unfolded. (You also felt the strong need to go back to school, don’t forget to tell them that! Again inner voice you need to be quiet or I’ll never get this done! Yes you are correct I did feel that I should have paid closer attention in my lectures back when I was in school to understand certain parts of the book.)

The Book of Life brought back my favorite characters and some that I was only just briefly introduced to in the previous two books. If each character were a colored thread, Harkness's talent as a writer has weaved together an amazing tapestry with these three books. Any good weaver would tell you, it's how you close the weaving and the last stitches that count the most. It is in these last steps that you put in the final pops of color that highlight all your previous work. The Book of Life takes the final steps in the process and brings forth the fine details of the characters and their arches so that they leap off the page with their vibrancy. Harkness has made her tapestry complete with this installment! I refuse to give away any spoilers as I want those who have read A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night to enjoy the Book of Life, like it is fine wine that Harkness is so fond of. Know that whether I compare this book to wine or a tapestry, the final book of the All Soul's Trilogy is well balanced, layered with complexity, fast paced, and over all a complete, well-rounded story. 

This Wench definitely recommends
this trilogy!

My heart is saddened that this is the last book in this world that I so greatly enjoy traveling to.  I do feel that Harkness has left a little room, if she so chooses, for a spin off book or two.  As some of the characters, I felt, could have their story go on with possible appearances from both Diana and Matthew.  My only hope or maybe it is a wish/dream is that maybe just maybe, though I do not know of any possibility of this becoming reality, is for Harkness to continue the world she has created for us even if Diana and Matthew's portion of the story has been completed.  If she chooses not to bring this world back to the page and the characters stay right where she has left them, I will not feel as if I've been robbed of anything.  I am not one to simply read a book once and in the case of the All Soul's Trilogy I do plan on reading it as often as I can for Deborah Harkness has created a universe that I will never leave completely.  The Book of Life truly is desire turned real!    

This Wench Rates it : 



You Might Want to Read...

A Tribute to The Fiery Cross

Black Dagger Brotherhood: Scenes That Left us Begging for More

When The Music's Over

Dani Mega O'Malley: Superstar

So Many Questions: The Fever Edition