2016 Reading Challenge: Book 15


A Trilogy: All Souls by Deborah Harkness, Book 3: The Book of Life

At last, the trilogy is over! I have to say, the third novel was by far the best. Unlike the first two, which were nearly all descriptions of every food, drink, shrub and bush in the modern and Elizabethan England worlds, this book contained ACTION! People did things! Lots of things! Things that actually mattered to the arc of the story! I’m not sure if the author finally hit her stride by the third book, or maybe she was just finally ready to actually complete the remaining 80% of the story. Maybe she was running low on literary, historical, and culinary references by this point. Who can say? Finish it she did, nonetheless.

Also, after slapping you about the head not-so-subtley throughout the series about racial purity and eugenics–even referencing the Nazis throughout the plot line–she uses the word miscegenation at the tail end. Hallelujah! Now even the slowest of readers gets The Metaphor.

Some of the resolution felt pretty anticlimactic considering so much time and energy was spent building it up only to fizzle out in last 30 pages. Spoiler alert here. The book of life was literally the entire focus of the story in the first two books. The main antagonist is the Covenant. In the third book, we are introduced to Matthew’s insane son Benjamin who becomes the new antagonist and the book of life becomes more of a side note–a tool to defeat the baddies rather than the main focus. All of the attention and drama surrounds eliminating Benjamin, and the Book of Life and the Congregation are solved easily. TOO easily. They are basically just mentioned in a sentence of two at the end of the story. That felt like sort of a let down considering how much time we as readers invested in those plot lines.

Overall, I am not very happy with any of her books, this was the least awful. You could read a summary of the first two and then just read the third and probably won’t miss anything. Or just don’t read them at all, that works, too!


About alycemsustko

Reader, writer, catmom extraordinaire
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