Ahh – the trilogy. Loved and hated at the same time. Loved because the reader gets to visit familiar/favorite characters again. Hated because the reader has to patiently wait for the next installment, which can be its own form of punishment for reader and writer alike. The Book of Life, the final book in The All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness just came out. I picked up the final book with a bit of trepidation. Shadow of Night, the second book, wasn’t what I had hoped it would be. Trilogies can be great sources of joy or great sources of sadness/anger for the reader (e.g. Divergent series, I’m the minority who liked the final book thinking it stayed true to Tris). I was hoping the final book by Harkness would be worth it. Thankfully I was not disappointed.
Harkness has done the rare thing – she wrote a final book that was the best in the series. Many third books can be disappointing or not live up to all readers expectations. The Book of Life did a good job of explaining things as well as provide a satisfying conclusion. The third book starts right where the second left off. Diana and Matthew have returned from their trip to the past and come back to the devastating news of the death of Diana’s aunt. This death of course has meaning and sets other storylines up. Diana needs to be fully accepted as a Clairmont, she and Matthew have to deal with wholly unexpected faces, Diana’s close friend plays an integral role in finding out the reason why a witch and a vampire are able to have children, and the secret of why Ashmole 782 revealed itself to Diana.
One thing that I think doesn’t get as much attention as it should in this book is the underlying message of acceptance. Acceptance of one’s self, acceptance of others, acceptance of one’s role in a relationship as well as within a family, and acceptance of things that happened in the past. Diana has to be willing to admit she is a witch and with that admittance, what she is able to become. The Clairmont’s have to be willing to understand that vampires aren’t the only representative of the family, and a few other points of acceptance. Reading the final book made me appreciate the second one more. At the time I read the second book I was very frustrated with it. I wasn’t able to see the point. However the third book referred back to events that happened in the second and allowed me to understand why the trip to the past was needed.
The Book of Life is much more of a grownup story about witches, vampires, and demons. It was refreshing to read and dealt with topics in an adult and realistic manner (well, as realistic as can be for the subject matter). This book was a bit heavy on the romance for my taste but that’s just my taste and the romance is important to the overall story.
I had the opportunity to see/meet Deborah Harkness when she came to a local bookstore for a reading/signing. Her explanation of Diana and Matthew’s journey enabled me to see the series in a new light. It also enabled me to understand the writer’s perspective and her process. It made me like the books in a different way that I hadn’t been able to before. An overall good series with a final book that offered an enjoyable ending.