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The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness ARC {5 Stars}

Today my awesome mom is stopping by to review The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness :D.

The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness was a very thoughtful gift from my book-blogging daughter who got the (signed!) advanced readers copy for me at BEA.  I set it aside to read when I “had time” in my busy schedule, but, after succumbing to curiosity, I literally did not put The Book of Life down but to sleep and go to work… and I was tempted to skip work.  Harkness has brought to life our star-crossed lovers of different magical species as they return to the 21st Century to face formidable foes with the support of their increasingly varied collection of family and friends.

The Book of Life is a heady blend of science and magic, of faith and love, of steel-willed resolve, and of historical and modern.  It moves along crisply, letting the Bishop-Clermont family and reader have a few moments to rest and recover, but those moments are all the more precious for their loving detail and sense of respite in the seas of vast and long-reaching changes.

This is a third book, so there are spoilers for the previous books below!

Note: I received an advanced copy of The Book of Life from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.

The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness ARC {5 Stars}

The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness (All Souls Trilogy #3)
Published by Viking Adult on July 15th, 2014
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Page Length: 576 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
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After traveling through time in Shadow of Night, the second book in Deborah Harkness’s enchanting series, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to face new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home at Sept-Tours, they reunite with the cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches—with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency. In the trilogy’s final volume, Harkness deepens her themes of power and passion, family and caring, past deeds and their present consequences. In ancestral homes and university laboratories, using ancient knowledge and modern science, from the hills of the Auvergne to the palaces of Venice and beyond, the couple at last learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago.

5 Stars


  • I love Diana Bishop in The Book of Life.  She is by turns uncertain of herself and then so fiercely driven to protect family and friends that she digs deep and finds power that she could not imagine possessing.  Although the odds seem impossible, she never gives up – she may thrash around in dismay first – but she finds her courage in standing up and protecting the people and principles she believes in. 
  •  I have come to terms with Matthew Clairmont and actually like him as well.  By The Book of Life, he’s finally growing out of being annoyingly over protective and lets members of his growing family – including Diana – do their part for the good of the cause.  In part, this is because there are simply too many people for him to hover over at this point.  If anyone has grown as much as Diana in this series, it’s Matthew.
  • The stress of time travel is addressed in The Book of Life.  Diana struggles at times to reconcile how places and things looked in 1591 vs. the current era.  When she arrives back in the 21st Century, she’s in shock.  When she confronts some of the challenges of her modern life, she longs for the simpler life of a 16th century alchemist.  Her disorientation seemed very true to life. 
  • In The Book of Life, Harkness doesn’t sweep over the problems of an academic who is married and has children and also a TON of other complications in her life.  She’s one of the few role models I have in contemporary literature, and I find strength in seeing her succeed.
  • Secrets …. Oh the secrets.  The de Clairmonts can give the Medici family a run for its money and win.  It’s delicious seeing them unfold throughout The Book of Life.
  • Diversity for the win.  There is no good species nor a bad one.  There are heroes everywhere in The Book of Life as there should be. 


  • Most of the story in The Book of Life is told from Diana’s viewpoint and in her words.  But in a few places (understandably so), the POV shifts and the story is told in the third person.  This would be ok, but there is little warning, and the shift was confusing.
  • While I appreciate that humans are not made out to be ignorant dunces in The Book of Life, when major secrets are revealed, some of the reactions seemed much too pat. Some human should have realized that he or she would stand a snowball’s chance in Hades against a vampire or witch and run off to hide under the bed … at least for a few moments.   


I loved The Book of Life and wished it was twice as long!!  As with all good books, the end is just a beginning, and I await whatever Harkness writes next (spin-off trilogy maybe???) with as much patience as I can manage. 

Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings

Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
– Anya


 The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness

© 2014, Anya. All rights reserved.


  1. So I skipped the whole review and forced myself not to read one word. I’m dying to get my hands on a copy. Crossing my fingers so bad hoping my local bookstore has them already!

    I just wanted to fangush so I had to comment (despite me not reading the review)

  2. I agree with all your good points! Diana is awesome in this book, and I’ve finally learned to like Matthew. Definitely the best in the series, and I hope Harkness writes more about them.
    Sarah recently posted…Review: The Book of LifeMy Profile

  3. It’s nice that you’re close enough to your mom to let her guest post, and it sounds like she was happy to get her hands on the book early too. :) Good review!

  4. That is so amazing that your mom is a guest reviewer! Fantastic review too, maybe Anya should invite her on to do more :) Anyway, glad you enjoyed the book so immensely. I stalled out on the series after the first book, but only because this genre just ultimately isn’t for me. Happy it was a worthy conclusion though!

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