Published by Viking Adult
Publication date: July 15th 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Science Fiction
Deborah Harkness returns with the final novel in the All Souls Trilogy. The Book of Life begins with Diana and Matthew’s return to Sept-Tours, Matthew’s ancestral home. Harkness wastes no time in assembling the almost dizzying and incomprehensible cast of Matthew’s family- both those related by birth and those created by blood. Thankfully, her skill at weaving the family’s threads and connections into a recognizable tapestry rivals that of Diana. Harkness also makes Diana the narrator of certain chapters, grounding the narrative and ensuring that her importance as the centerpiece of the trilogy cannot be forgotten.
Diana and Matthew were not successful in their time travel to the 1500s in that they did not recover the elusive Book of Life- an item desired by all creatures for the secrets it supposedly holds. However, they return to the modern day world with a secret of their own—one that will quickly become evident. Diana is pregnant; something believed to be impossible between a vampire and a witch. This pregnancy, in addition to the very fact of their mating (vampiric marriage) has the world of vampires, witches, and daemons in an uproar. Their union is considered unnatural and forces Matthew into creating his own “scion”—blood family, an action that will generate implications and issues around the globe. At the same time, the hunt for the Book of Life intensifies as one of Matthew’s blood sons has given in to his darkest impulses and, out of loathing for his father, is determined to impregnate a witch and create a line of master creatures of his own. He believes the book contains the secret of how to do this.
There is so much going on in The Book of Life that it could easily get out of hand and spiral into an unintelligible mess but instead Harkness balances the escalating drama with a mixture of humor and whimsy. There is Diana’s family home, which is alive in its own way and a bit temperamental, meaning it chooses who it likes and doesn’t and when it is willing to give up its secrets. Then there are the numerous sly references to recent economic situations that are being manipulated by creatures for their benefit (the Clark County coven of witches is using spells to revitalize the Las Vegas housing market). This kind of detail and narrative foil are indicative of Harkness’s innate ability to prevent terror fatigue—an all too common side effect of fantasy series. Instead, the tension builds naturally…but insidiously, making The Book of Life a wonderfully satisfying way to end the All Souls Trilogy. The only question left is: will there be a movie?
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