The Book of Life: All Souls Trilogy – Book 3. Deborah Harkness. Viking: Penguin Group (USA). July 2014. 576 pp. ISBN#: 9780670025593.
Diana Bishop, witch and historical scholar, is now wed to the vampire and scientist, Matthew Clairmont; together they are seeking to discover several scientific facts about their DNA. For Matthew seeks to understand the composition of his “blood rage,” Diana seeks to learn more about the “weaving” skills she possesses that seriously affect the magic she is learning to control in her magic; and finally they seek the missing pages of the magical alchemical book Ashmole 782, which is “The Book of Life.”
These major characters are assisted by a covey of witches from New York, thwarted by Matthew’s evil son, Benjamin, and assisted by other scientists who are human, vampire, and members of the Congregation of Witches. This is normally a highly unlikely union as vampires and witches are usually highly suspicious of each other and are more enemies than colleagues. Add to the intense tension arising from Matthew and Diana’s reappearance from the 1500s to the present the fact that Diana is now pregnant with twins. Will they be vampire, witch or human? Will they possess the devastatingly destructive blood rage that Matthew has learned to control? How will the virulent enmity of Matthew’s son and the orders of the leader of Matthew’s family affect Matthew and Diana’s relationship? And what about blood rage in another character that may be totally out of control and beyond answers?
Ashmole 782 is the quest and the reader will be stunned by the gradually revealed truths about the composition of this book of magic and the reasons why many characters will do anything to find the missing pages and thus gain possession and power of the ancient tome!
The Book of Life… is carefully plotted, with tender and endearing moments of passion and love between Matthew and Diana; beautiful descriptions of several pivotal places, scenes of fierce conflict in which the battles increase the closer the characters come to the answers to each mystery they seek to solve, and detailed scenes involving the skilled analysis of DNA common, yet unique, to the witches and vampires in this quest. While this may annoy some readers, it is actually quite necessary to provide credibility to the rest of the mystery of the main characters and the Book of Life.
Deborah Harkness is a skilled writer who has crafted a very different trilogy of novels that educates the reader about witches and vampires, avoids the stereotypical treatment of this topic, and succeeds in presenting an intelligent, albeit fictional, treatment of some historical realities about witches and vampires. It’s quite an achievement and not for those who want a light read. The Book of Life is fiction about the paranormal, history, science, romance, the supernatural and more, a noteworthy and memorable read! This is highly recommended, fiction written by an author who knows how to develop and embellish a great story!