Review & Giveaway: THE BOOK OF LIFE by Deborah Harkness

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Some of you may remember that one of my Best Reads of 2012 was A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. Did her newest book, The Book of Life (the final book of the All Souls trilogy), make it to one of this year’s coveted top spots? Read on to find out…

The Book of Life cover

Publication Date: July 15, 2014
Length: 564 pages
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Fantasy
Series: All Souls Trilogy, Book 3
Publisher: Viking Adult (Penguin)
Source & Format: Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley; digital
 
Official Summary
The highly anticipated finale to the #1 New York Times bestselling trilogy that began with A Discovery of Witches.
 
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.
 
With more than one million copies sold in the United States and appearing in thirty-eight foreign editions, A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night have landed on all of the major bestseller lists and garnered rave reviews from countless publications. Eagerly awaited by Harkness’s legion of fans, The Book of Life brings this superbly written series to a deeply satisfying close.
 
 

Emily‘s Review

So I’ll cut right to the chase: The Book of Life is a good book. I remembered all the reasons I had loved A Discovery of Witches and loved revisiting Diana and Matthew and continuing their saga. The Book of Life does a good job tying up a few loose ends and answering some of the questions that fans of the series surely have. In fact, I got all the way through the book and felt very good about it and the ending. All good, right?

Well, it was good until I tried to tie it back to the larger series and what the entire saga was based on and all the different questions that actually needed answering. When I thought about it, at the end of the day, I do not think The Book of Life answered enough of the questions that those of us who’ve read the entire series certainly have. Without giving too much away, I’ll just say that there were many things that I felt were not answered or not tied up well enough…like even the actual Book of Life itself. I need some serious epilogues added with future scenes that explain it all (yes, like a Harry Potter epilogue).

Crazily, despite all that, I did really enjoy reading The Book of Life. Though it maybe wasn’t all that I had hoped for, it is still a conclusion to a series that I dearly love. The three books in this series are all very different – they don’t behave as “normal” series reading to me. The first book, A Discovery of Witches, came off as pretty much straight fantasy/paranormal to me, with witches and vampires front and foremost. The second book, Shadow of Night, was more historical romance and time traveling – the same witches and vampires, but traveling back and forth in time. The Book of Life takes on elements from both prior books and then goes into new fantastical extremes, with the witches and vampires doing DNA analysis and gene mapping. Because the books are all so different, that may be part of why I liked The Book of Life while still being somewhat unsatisfied with how things are ultimately left.

As a side note, I did not reread either of the prior books in this series before reading The Book of Life, and due to how long ago I read them (2012 and 2013, mind you), I was completely lost for the first couple chapters. I think this book is best read in the order of the series, and for those who have read the prior books, you may want to reread them or at least do a little refresher skimming prior to reading The Book of Life.

Bottom Line

I liked The Book of Life and recommend it to everyone who’s read the prior books in the series. It is maybe not all that I ever wanted in a conclusion to this series, but it does wrap up some of the important story lines that fans of the series have been eagerly awaiting. It also is a great opportunity to remember all that was great in the prior books (Diana and Matthew’s relationship, Diana’s kick-ass aunts, the time travel, all the famous people they befriended in the past, etc.) and in the series as a whole.

Rating: B- (3½ stars)

Wine/Beverage Pairing: There is a scene in where Diana is served “glasses filled with ice cubes containing blue borage flowers and mint leaves, topped off with sparkling water.” This caused a Google moment, and I learned that blue borages flowers taste like cucumbers. Huh, who knew? So that is my beverage pairing for this book!

Buy Digital:  Kindle  |  Nook
 
Buy Print:  Amazon  |  B&N
  

 

Another Title by Deborah Harkness

A Discovery of Witches coverA Discovery of Witches
(Kindles & Wine Best Reads of 2012 selection)
 

Goodreads

Buy:  Amazon  |  Kindle  |  B&N  |  Nook

 

The Book of Life Giveaway

The lovely folks at Viking Books are generously giving away a print copy of The Book of Life PLUS Diana’s commonplace book and a holographic The Book of Life button to ONE lucky Kindles & Wine reader (U.S. residents only). Wow, I wanna be a reader/commenter for the day to be able to win this. Lucky ducks!

Diana's Commonplace Book

Diana Bishop’s commonplace book
 
 

To enter for your chance to win, you must:

  1. Be a follower of our blog (click HERE to subscribe), AND…
  2. Hit the comments and tell me: What book is your favorite conclusion to a series you have read, and why? (No spoilers, please.)

Please note: All entrants must review and adhere to our official giveaway policy. This contest will close on Wednesday, July 23, 2014 at 11:59 PM (CDT) and the winner will be notified via email on Thursday, July 24.