Review: The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Book of Life by Deborah HarknessThe Book of Life by Deborah Harkness
Narrator: Jennifer Ikeda
Length: 23 hrs, 52 mins
Series: All Souls Trilogy #3
Published by Penguin Audio on July 15, 2014
Genres: Paranormal, Romance
Source: Publisher
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The highly anticipated finale to the #1 New York Times bestselling trilogy that began with A Discovery of Witches

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.

With more than one million copies sold in the United States and appearing in thirty-eight foreign editions, A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night have landed on all of the major bestseller lists and garnered rave reviews from countless publications. Eagerly awaited by Harkness’s legion of fans, The Book of Life brings this superbly written series to a deeply satisfying close.

Oh my kanye, I’m finally done; I’m finally free. Yes, I’m fully aware that I subjected myself to this torture. I even wrote a post about how terrible an impulse it is but I just had to finish this series. Maybe it’s because I already put so much time into it. Maybe it’s because I liked the first one and I was hoping that would turn out to be an opinion I could understand. Either way, here I am. I’ve made it through the All Souls Trilogy, which is over one thousand pages of Twilight for snobs.

Okay guys, listen. I do try to avoid comparing things to Twilight, because every paranormal book is not Twilight nor is every love triangle. This book, though? It’s Twilight. Completely, impossibly, seriously-are-you-fucking-with-me Twilight. I already talked about some of this in earlier reviews. I mean, hell, Diana meets sexy Matthew and they, minus a brief bout of hate, basically instalove all over one another. He also, despite them both being many years into adulthood and despite Matthew having no issue sexing humans without hurting them, refuses to have sex with Diana until the second book, because this is a really common thing for adult male love interests to do. Please name a romance reader that would like to wait until book two for the sex to happen. I’m guessing this basically leaves the readers of Christian romances, who I’m guessing won’t be into this book either. So I really can’t explain this narrative choice except that, oh hey, it conveniently parallels Twilight.

gif you are my life now

Then, of fucking course, they get pregnant. With TWINS. That happens in book two and Diana spends most of The Book of Life preggers. This means that some of the words often used to describe her are maternal and fertile. Now, my memory isn’t the most reliable, but I remember Diana being fairly strong, but she spends most of this book crying, talking about the babies in her belly (I hate this word), being bossed around by Matthew, and getting new powers basically thrown at her.

gif pregnant twilight

Ostensibly, The Book of Life has a big bad to be taken down in the form of Benjamin, one of Matthew’s vampire sons. The story here is that he made Benjamin a vampire as a punishment. Maybe, Matthew, you shouldn’t make evil dudes into fucking vampires? Then Benjamin goes on a fucking blood rage killing spree, because that’s obviously what this guy would do what the fuck Matthew. Anyway, Benjamin is actually creepy as fuck. He’s a good villain, which is about as much praise as I have to offer.

But, again rather like Twilight, this conclusion is so not about the villains. What’s it about, you might ask? It’s about pregnancy and babies and how super fucking special their family is. The actual showdown with Benjamin lasts for about a chapter. The birth scene alone was twice as long, including a delightful scene where Matthew pleasures Diana to help take her mind off the pain of the contractions. I mean, it’s better than the babies chomping their way out but still I didn’t need that in my brain.

gif creepy baby twilight

In this volume, Harkness demonstrates her knowledge of Pop Culture with references to both Buffy and Twilight. The Buffy reference shows how unique her vampire impregnating a lady idea is by having Chris, Diana’s friend, remark that it’s shocking it happened since vampires never got anyone pregnant on Buffy (“Not even Spike. And Gos knows he never practiced safe sex.”). Then Matthew tells a class of students who end up being not remotely important to the larger plot that “I do not, nor have I ever, sparkled.” Wow, I guess this series isn’t remotely like Twilight then after all. Glad that’s all cleared up.

There is so little plot in this book that I just can’t even. Sure, Harkness’ novels are much better written and full of delightful wine snobbery to mask the fact that they’re Twilight for adults, but they are also padded with so much description. How about to make them much less long we remove some of the oft-repeated and incredibly annoying words? I actually downloaded the ebook so I could find out how many times certain words are used. Let’s see, shall we?

book of life: 119
weaver: 102
wife: 94
husband: 74
twins: 70
mate: 65
Ashmole 782: 63
firedrake: 41
belly: 22
desperate: 11
ouroboros: 10
fertile: 6
maternal: 5

You might be thinking that these aren’t so bad, but they grated on me as I was listening, so deal with it. Also, I tried to see how many times the word “said” was used, because the cast is HUGE and there are a ton of dialog tags, but that broke Kindle Cloud Reader, so I’ll just leave it to your imagination.

gif facepalm

Oh right, and I mentioned Diana randomly acquiring powers. Now, here’s the thing, I don’t mind when people have a lot of power, honestly, but Diana didn’t do anything to get this power. Things just happen to her because she is sooooo special. View Spoiler » Diana was already one of the most powerful witches in the world, so was this necessary? Not remotely. OH OH and to find the Book of Life, she was warned she would have to lose something and oh no, but actually all she had to lose was her fear. Wow, what a nice and easy ending. How convenient. How lucky for you.

Oh, also, it turns out that one of the other male characters has been in love with Diana for hundreds of years due to time travel shenanigans. He watched her grow up too. How sexy is that? UGH. But, don’t worry, they’ll be friends forever, because that’s what happens. I will say that some of the secondary characters are interesting and that I love the inclusion of just because lesbian and gay couples. Of course, very little time is spent talking about any of these people because Matthew and Diana are supposed to be the most compelling of all creatures.

gif fairy tale 1 gif fairy tale romance

While I can see these books having some appeal, they are most decidedly not for me. I’m not sure what I saw in them originally or why I had to finish them or why the books had to be SO long. If you like Twilight, but not the writing, then I present you with this series which you will adore. The audiobook is mostly fine and basically the only way I made it through.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

gif fuck that

6 responses to “Review: The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness”

  1. Heather says:

    I forgot how adorable Mr. Pattinson is. I especially like the last gif. Thank you for that 🙂

    I’ve only read the first book in this series, and while I thought it was decent, it definitely reminded me of Twilight, too. I think I’ll stop myself from reading the rest of this trilogy, as I’m pretty sure I’d have the exact same reaction as you.

  2. I had a whole long comment that somehow got deleted but basically I laughed like a loon and mentioned how GLORIOUS RPATTZ IS WHILST HATING ON TWILIGHT HE REALLY CANNOT STAND THAT NONSENSE

    and speaking of nonsense what the fuck is this book even

    it sounds as if it is most decidedly laden with drugs
    Gillian, who is FINALLY ON HER WAY HOMEWARD recently posted…Book Haul, or the One That’s FierceMy Profile

    Gillian, who is actually home already so I just accidentally lied to you recently posted…Book Haul, or the One That’s FierceMy Profile

  4. Steena says:

    Oof, this sounds awful. Also, sadly, even Harkness’ Buffy knowledge is off, as Angel impregnates Darla and Connor is born. Lame sauce.

  5. Riley says:

    They say said about 1608 times in the book of life.

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