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A Review of the Third Book in the All Souls Trilogy: “The Book of Life”

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I felt relief when I saw that this book was coming out this Summer. I have started many a trilogy/series where I have waited, painstakingly, as the years go by and still no new release (George R.R. Martin and Patrick Rothfuss, I’m looking at you both!). Deborah Harkness, thankfully, did not put me through such anguish.

Her third and final book in the All Souls Trilogy, The Book of Life, was a fun and easy read. (If you need a refresher, check out my reviews of her first two books here). Matthew and Diana return from the past and are ready to face the future that they left behind. They didn’t bring much back with them, except for an unexpected pregnancy… Twins to be precise.

Matthew and Diana have broken the covenant that states that demons, witches, and vampires should not mix; one of Matthew’s sons, Benjamin Fox, has reappeared on the scene and he is as crazy as he ever; Baldwin, the head of the De Clermont clan, is in full over-protective mode; Marcus is in love with a human and he wants to marry her the traditional vampire way, which involves death and rebirth as a vampire; Jack appears on the scene, not as a homeless child, but as a very disturbed adult vampire; Gallowglass is in love with Diana; and everyone has to come to terms with the loss of Em, Sarah’s partner.

Even though I enjoyed the series, I still feel uncomfortable with Matthew’s relationship with Diana. We learn that the blood rage, a very unpredictable syndrome that can cause people to kill, is strengthened after a vampire mates. I know the term sounds a bit National Geographic, but it’s what is used in the book. Matthew becomes more obsessed with Diana and since she is carrying his children, it gets worse. Diana gets frustrated about it, but never actually says anything specific to stop it. And it has me wondering. I know that this book involves witches, deamons, vampires, time traveling, and a dragon-like creature, but can I just simply say “Of course the relationship Diana has with Matthew isn’t real and therefore no one should think of it as being an example of a healthy (or not) relationship. Books cannot simply exist to act as moral compasses for people”? Yet, I can’t quite swallow it. How many people read these examples and think it’s normal to stalk people, to obsess over their every move, to constantly check what they are doing? Because outside of Harkness’ book, that would be a criminal offense.

There are some really beautiful relationships in the book though. Sarah loses her partner and best friend Em, to a rather evil obnoxious witch, Peter Knox. Sarah morns Em’s death and tries to rebuild her life in a rather hectic world. It was so great to see a strong homosexual relationship throughout the series. It was even better to see that it was not overly sexualised. Em and Sarah weren’t the token lesbians doing weird and kinky sex scenes with other mystical creatures. They were two people who loved each other.

The Gallowglass/Diana/Matthew love triangle is a bit weird and almost strange. All I have to say is thank god Gallowglass wasn’t a werewolf and Diana didn’t have to decide which side to chose. Gallowglass says that he falls in love with Diana because he was commanded by Phillipe to watch over Diana as she grew up. It made me think that Gallowglass would have played more of a fatherly role with Diana, especially as Diana’s parents die when she is young. Although, that isn’t how the story turns out.

The book, overall, was a really fun and light read for the summer. Harkness tied up the story perfectly and I really felt that the plot was well structured. If you’re looking for something to read as the leaves start to change colour, then this could be a great book.

Have you read The Book of Life? What do you think about the role of books and providing examples of healthy relationships? Remember to share the reading love.

Get your copy of Harkness’ book from Booktopia here.

Buy from Book Depository here.