Monday, 14 July 2014

The Book of Life

The Book of Life is the final instalment in the All Souls trilogy therefore this review may contain spoilers for A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night.

It all started with a book. Diana and Matthew may be back in the present day, but his past holds many more secrets, one of which will soon threaten their future. With Baldwin and the Congregation already unhappy at their relationship, there is only one solution to all their problems. Diana must once again find Ashmole 782 and put back its missing pages.

The All Souls books have never been fast paced and this is no exception, however the world is so absorbing and once you get settled, you won’t want to leave her world. There’s such detail put into everything, from the locations right down to the furnishings and everyday tasks such as making a cup of tea. I think this has always been part of the charm of these books, but it does mean they’re not always pages turners.

Deborah has said that her plan for a trilogy meant she would get a go at writing three different genres; fantasy, historical and thriller. The Book of Life certainly does have its thrilling moments, but they are tempered by everyday family life. The story returns, at times, to the research lab and the libraries full of antiquated books; along with all the procedures that must be followed. The interweaving histories of all the characters and creatures is so complex but I love learning all the links.

Of course, one of the best things about ending a trilogy is following favourite characters through their journeys. I’m possibly fonder of some of the supporting cast by now than Diana and Matthew. I love Gallowglass and really felt for him in this; he is so loyal and could make anyone feel safe. I like Phoebe, who manages to be the voice of modernity among so many old souls. I never felt Diana was really of our time. And then there’s Jack, whose part is small but manages to pull on the heartstrings.

It’s getting all exciting and then, well, then there’s babies. OK, babies do interrupt life and adventure, but there was just a bit too much on the labour and the days running up to the christening, that it killed off the pace. I admit, I’m particularly adverse to baby talk, but these chapters didn’t feel necessary to the whole plot.

It was a satisfying ending, with lots of loose ends tied up and the answers to many questions that made sense. They felt right. Yet, there’s still that urge to read more about these characters, maybe a few years on, what will become of them and the whole world of creatures. Maybe we can revisit the world in the future? I would be happy for a book that didn’t focus on Diana and Matthew.

The Book of Life is published by Headline and will be available in hardback and ebook editions from 15th July 2014. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review.

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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.

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