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The Book of Life

by Kitty Drexel
Contributor
Wednesday Jul 2, 2014
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The "All Souls Trilogy" by Deborah Harkness began with "A Discovery of Witches" (2011). It continued with "Shadow of Night." (2012) "The Book of Life" is the long awaited finale to the trilogy.

In it, historian and witch Diane Bishop, and her vampire-scientist husband, Matthew Clairmont, search for the ancient tome Ashmole 782. Along the way they reunite with familiar characters from the other two books, and test the bounds of familial duty. Ultimately, they finally unlock the mysteries of the book and its missing pages.

The book begins without preamble at the Clairmont family home in modern day, Sept-Tours. It is not explained why our heroes are there instead of their own homes in Oxford. This ill-explained beginning is the set up for the entire book’s structure. Despite the epic lengths of all of Harkness’s novels in the trilogy, the reader is reintroduced to a full cast of characters and events without a brief summary of previous events. It might be best for the reader to skim through the previous books before starting this one. It will make your reading more enjoyable, and the new plot twists less confusing.

The All Souls Trilogy is frequently compared to "Twilight" for its content. One main similarity is the creep factor of the male leads. Matthew Clairmont is to Edward Cullen what Khal Drogo ("Game of Thrones") is to Rufio ("Hook&qu

"The Book of Life" is a paranormal YA novel for adults. It is moderately well-written with brief, relatively modest intimate interludes (sexy times). It takes Harkness at least 100 pages to get going, but after the wait the book gets meatier. It’s a good beach read, but not necessarily a good selection for the intergenerational family book club.

Harkness is pro-gay relationships, but her hetero relationships need work. The "All Souls Trilogy" is frequently compared to "Twilight" for its content. One main similarity is the creep factor of the male leads. Matthew Clairmont is to Edward Cullen what Khal Drogo ("Game of Thrones") is to Rufio ("Hook"). Clairmont is creepy. We’re supposed to believe that Diana Bishop is strong because she does what she wants, even as Matthew gives her ultimatums while creepily glaring. He can barely control his inherent violence, and she’s supposed to feel safe because he loves her. This is not how adult relationships work. This is how abusive relationships work.

"The Book of Life" is a long read. Its characters travel to the US, France and Italy. It clashes modern science and witchery. It is possible to enjoy this novel, but it’s not for everyone.


"The Book of Life"
Deborah Harkness
Viking Books
http://www.penguin.com
$28.95

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