• The Book of Life

  • All Souls, Book 3
  • By: Deborah Harkness
  • Narrated by: Jennifer Ikeda
  • Length: 23 hrs and 53 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (27,471 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The number one New York Times best-selling series finale and sequel to A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night.

Look for the hit TV series A Discovery of Witches, streaming on AMC Plus, Sundance Now, and Shudder.

Bringing the magic and suspense of the All Souls Trilogy to a deeply satisfying conclusion, this highly anticipated finale went straight to number one on the New York Times best seller list. In The Book of Life, Diana and Matthew time-travel back from Elizabethan London to make a dramatic return to the present - facing new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home, Sept-Tours, they reunite with the beloved 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.

©2014 Deborah Harkness (P)2014 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"Weaving an extraordinarily rich story of magic and science, history and fiction, passion and power, secrets and truths, Harkness delivers an unforgettable and spellbinding finale that's not to be missed." (USA Today)

"Juicy and action-packed.... Even at 561 pages, this is one hardcover no one will mind lugging to the beach." (People)

"Pure escapist summer fun." (Jodi Picoult, Parade)

Featured Article: The Best Paranormal Book Series in Audio


For as long as humans have told stories, we have had a fascination with paranormal and supernatural forces. The folklore of just about every human culture is rife with stories that feature talking animals, shape-shifters, demons, witches, spirits, and more. Whether you're looking for a paranormal fantasy that will grip you with its action or romance with an otherworldly twist, these are some of our favorite paranormal audiobook series that you're sure to love.

What listeners say about The Book of Life

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Hopes Dashed

I really enjoyed A Discovery of Witches, and although I didn't like Shadow of Night quite as much, I had high hopes for The Book of Life. This book has gotten fantastic reviews, so it obviously works for most people. If you loved both of the previous books, you probably don't need me to tell you that you'll like this one, too. BUT. If you were beginning to have some doubts by book 2, you might want to save your money (or your credit) for something else.

Characters move from city to city, discuss the incredibly urgent danger they face (but don't do anything about it), bicker, travel, drink tea, and discuss how possessive Matthew is about Diana. There is a seemingly endless review of vampire family politics and legal issues, and there is a huge cast of characters, although most of them are superfluous to the plot. Somehow Ms. Harkness made this all work in the first two books, but it felt to me like she had lost the rhythm and pace of the story in BOL. There is too much telling, not enough doing; too many plot points that go nowhere. There are many conversations that cover ground that has already been tread and retread in earlier chapters - I felt totally bogged down for the first 18 hours or so of listening.

I so wanted to enjoy this book! I found the first two difficult to put down, but this one was all too easy to set aside. The ending was fine, but I'm still not sure it was worth the tedious slog through 20+ hours of listening to get there.

78 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • QM
  • 07-18-14

So little magic, so much dull soap opery.

What would have made The Book of Life better?

If the main character did magic more then once every few months the story would have been much better. She is so whiney and weak, I found myself rolling my eyes over and over. I enjoyed the first book, patiently waited out the second but this one…so much minutiae about the different ways different vampires might think about what someone else might do. If you are interested in fantasy stories about magical creatures this isn't a good choice. It's more of a drawn out soap opera that happens to have some magical creatures in it.

Has The Book of Life turned you off from other books in this genre?

Not really, I hoped it would be a fantasy book but it isn't.

Did Jennifer Ikeda do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

Yes, the narrator was good.

What character would you cut from The Book of Life?

Honestly, Diana. She spends so much time dreading, thinking, whining, and then more dreading. She is supposed to be this incredibly powerful witch but almost never does magic. Is it so much to ask that we have a story with a strong confident female character who doesn't spend all her time worrying and doubting herself?

41 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

I loved the opening book BUT...

What disappointed you about The Book of Life?

I was drawn to A Discovery of Witches for its theme of magic and its connection to Diana's journey of self discovery. In Shadow of Night, I felt that the author wanted to use the book as a history lesson to readers on her point of expertise-Elizabethan England. I accepted that at the time because I know middle books are often slow. I'm not going to take the time to review each book individually so I will indicate that my rating of Shadow would drop from a five star of the first book to a three star. I also wasn't too disappointed with Shadow because I hoped that The Book of Life would be a wow, wrapping up the series with a bang and returning the story to the powerful level I had seen the author capable of in Discovery. I saw no indication that it would become merely what I now wonder isn't just a set up piece for a sequel.The background information that was so pleasing in the first book became tedious by the third, with endless detailed descriptions of wall coverings, furnishings, paintings and clothing. Finally, having become attached to the main characters, I think there can be a point of “too much information” about them. The birth of the twins was, for my taste, too much intimate and excruciating detail. I'm sorry to say that I would only give the final volume two stars. While it does tie up some plot points, it leaves significant ones unfinished and even creates new ones. (***spoiler alert ***) Examples of those include the disappearance of Gallowglass, the unresolved question of Phoebe becoming a vampire and the journey of Cora. The Firedrake talks of Diana having “brought the magic back” yet that idea is not more fully developed. I was disappointed that, after all the build up to the Congregation meeting about ending The Covenant, the meeting itself is not covered in the book. The author lost a good opportunity to cover the evolution of the creatures as they struggle to move past old beliefs and learn to deal with each other in new ways. Indeed, there is very little evidence of “old worlds die and new be born” in the conclusion to this series. Diana becomes fully herself but then doesn't use that power after saving Matthew from Benjamin. Indeed, her life seems to go back to her previous “normal” existence as a historian, except for the addition of Matthew and her children. Despite the return of the arrow to her, there is no indication of how she will use her vast magical abilities. Also, there was no progress on the issue of exposing more than a limited handful of humans like Chris to the presence of witches, vampires and daemons. If The Book of Life does turn out to be a set up piece for a future series, I hope the author would use it to explore some of the missed opportunities of this volume. I think the response of a reader to a book directly relates to what he or she is looking for in it. If you are mainly interested in romantic relationships and colorful settings, this is probably the series for you. If you are more interested in magic, lasting character development and the journey of an ensemble cast of characters in achieving an important mission, you may find it less satisfying.

Has The Book of Life turned you off from other books in this genre?

No

Which scene was your favorite?

When Diana releases the last of her fear and comes fully into her power.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

The author hasn't lost her colorful writing ability but didn't direct it into powerful plot development.

38 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Good but flawed.

Where does The Book of Life rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I was waiting (not so patiently) for this book to be released. Overall, it was good - not amazing like the two previous books in the series. The characters lacked the depth this go around and it affected the quality of the story. Some loose ends still remained at the end and the second half felt rushed. I would have loved a more complete and flushed out ending.

What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

The performance was okay. I love Jennifer Ikeda so much that I will buy an audio book based solely on the fact that she is the reader. The was some serious continuity issues with her characters from the previous books. A big one was Gallowglass. I cringed every time he had dialogue. I had to switch over to my hard copy of the novel cause it got so frustrating. Very disappointing.

35 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Disappointing, Inconsistent, & Irritating So Far

What would have made The Book of Life better?

Such a let down. So so disappointed.

What was most disappointing about Deborah Harkness’s story?

Like anyone else currently listening to this audiobook, I've been VERY eagerly and anxiously awaiting its arrival. I'm only about an hour and 40 minutes into it, but I had to stop and take a break because I was getting too irritated. I REALLY want to know what happens with everyone, but I don't know if I am going to be able to get through the book.

In the first two books, I'd noticed lots of little continuity issues when things didn't match up, either within one book or across the two books. It bothered me, but mostly it didn't interfere with the story or my LOVE of the characters and books. So far, in book 3, I'm having a hard time getting past them.

Warning, very minor spoilers ahead. They aren't important or anything, since I'm less than 2 hours into a 23 hour book.

In book 2, we were told that Baldwin even stopped in at the family home while Diana and Matthew were away. Now, suddenly, in book 3, we are supposed to believe that A) Baldwin had NO clue Diana was a time walker, and B) He had NO clue that they had gone back in time, despite the fact that he was hanging out at the house with everyone else who knew. Plus, since he's one of the knights, of course he would know what they had decided to do. Ugh.

Also, in book 1, Baldwin accepted her as his sister and even called her sister when they said goodbye at the airport. (Don't get me started on the inconsistencies in the "we're mated/we're not mated issue in book 1 and 2.) Yet he's furious that they are married etc?

That's not the worst though.

Suddenly, we are told that there's this loud call that all vampires can hear as a result of Felipe's mark on Diana/his adoption of her. Yet, in book 2, Father Hubbard had NO idea she was claimed by a vampire until she told him, and he said he would just take her word for it because no one would lie in a house of God. Also, Louisa didn't believe Diana that Felipe had adopted her in a blood ritual. How is that possible, since this call should have been screaming at her loudly enough to annoy her? The blood rage and opiates can't explain that away.

Then there are the little things, like randomly Diana is back in her linen shift from 1590, even though they changed into their modern clothes back at her house in Madison. Also, suddenly Matthew is moody and angry and even more unstable than ever, even though at the end of book 2 he was all happy and well-balanced, having healed his wounds with his father, connected fully with Diana with the ritual of taking her blood and so on. The story briefly mentions that having seen Felipe so recently now makes him mourn his loss again. Also, in book 1, it was specifically mentioned that Baldwin has "never set foot in the tower" since Matthew built it, but now in book 3 there's a sword mark on one of the stairs from when he and Matthew fought, and Baldwin charges right in and grabs Diana?

In book 2, Matthew's unpredictability was partly explained away by the fact that he wasn't drinking from Diana. Once he started doing that, supposedly things were so much better and he "knew" her. Now, he's back to acting like a clueless idiot, needing others to tell him things that he obviously should know. In London, he heard and recognized the steps of two vampires who he hadn't seen in centuries, while they were still outside on the stairs, when Father Hubbard's messengers came to their house. Yet, he had no clue Baldwin was there until he grabbed Diana? Please.

It also makes no sense that Matthew is so mad at Marcus for mating and getting engaged to Phoebe. No sense at all. And somehow it's supposed to be Marcus' fault that Emily was killed? It's like there's all this contrived drama for the sake of drama.

Aside from all the issues, the first hour and 40 minutes are just boring. It was too boring and unessential for the start of a book when we should be getting hooked. Like, Mart and Fernando in the kitchen... Normally I love her detailed scenes that take you into their lives, but it was just so unimportant and blah. The story focuses on so many different people, instead of telling it mostly from Diana's perspective. Even when she's in the scene, it was often in 3rd person narrator style. Then, randomly, it went back to "I..." from Diana's perspective.

And what's up with Cora? Diana had her under control before they left London, and suddenly she's out of control? You could argue that coming back to this time changed things, but Cora was in this time from the beginning since she's been around all of Diana's life. Plus, Gallowglass (sp?) acts like this is typical behavior.

34 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

too many loose threads in this weaving

What did you like best about The Book of Life? What did you like least?

I was REALLY looking forward to the third installment of this series. I started reading two years ago and like many I have been eagerly awaiting this book. Even with my anticipation high, I genuinely feel that I went in with an open mind. Given Deborah Harkness is new to novel writing, and the discrepancies between book one and book two, I was prepared for a few inexplicably changed plot points (such as Phillipes blood song). However I was shocked at the holes left behind, questions left unanswered, stories left unfinished, and blatant use of "hand of god" problem solving technique. In a good novel or series, nothing is written in that isn't useful to the carrying out of the plot. I felt that every single time a problem arose in this book a new character was introduced to solve it.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

I desperately wish Mathew could have been the killer instead of the Damsel in Distress. In every book Harkness mentions how dangerous he is... she repeatedly stresses this. Yet over and over he puts himself in to dangerous situations, which always are avoidable, and that come perilously close to his death. Inevitably Diana has to swoop in and save the day. I hated the ending. I wish that ultimately that he had asked Diana for help so they could work together as a team. This should have been a story of Mathew overcoming his ego, as well as Diana her fear.

What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

was a bit disappointed in Galloglass in this book, don't understand why he didnt sound the same as last book.

Could you see The Book of Life being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

All i can say is that the writing is so poor in this last book that making it into a movie can only make the plot better. That movie almost has to be better than the book ---something i've long believed impossible. I vote for Mathew Lewis as Marcus.

Any additional comments?

I'll definitely give Deborah Harkness one more try if she writes again... however.... i'll go in with a grain of salt.

31 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Disappointed

What did you like best about The Book of Life? What did you like least?

I was totally prepared to love this story, had been waiting as everyone for two years for it to come out, and now I agree with the readers/listeners who were disappointed by the story, as well as the narration.
First, the narration...I don't know about anyone else, but I was annoyed in the first two books, and now so much more so in the third with how whiny Diana always sounds. I found it very hard to take her seriously as a strong independent professor, witch, or teacher. I thought Ms Ikeda did a fairly admirable job in the first two books with Matthew, and Hamish, but this third book had Hamish and Gallowglass sounding the same as each other, sometimes sounding female, and sometimes male, always sounding awful. Not to mention that awful screeching that is Sara...I wondered through the whole book if I would like the story any more if I was reading it instead of listening.
The story as well felt like it had huge holes in the story, so many inconsistencies I could not even begin to count them, and the addition of Phillipes and Em's ghosts was just ridiculous...no point, except to be able to send out a preview of the "First Chapter!!!". I almost quit reading sometime during the interminable boorishness of Diana's pregnancy and Matthews "need" to be in New Orleans sorting things out...seemed a contrived reason to have them apart and bring them back together at the nick of time.

Do you think The Book of Life needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

I actually think it would benefit from a follow up book...but not sure I would read it at this point, or listen to it.. I liked the characters of Marcus, Miriam, and Gallowglass, that is until he revealed himself besotted with the whiny Diana

28 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Had to stop listening and go get the book. :-(

Any additional comments?

How Jennifer Ikeda could have forgotten how she did GALLOWGLASS from SHADOW OF NIGHT is a terrible distraction from the start. She interchanges GALLOWGLASS and HAMISH and it is already so confusing to figure out just who is talking that i need to stop listening and go get the book. 2 very DIFFERENT and excellent voices that she created, beautifully, are being squashed together at a time when so much is happening but it's so distracting that it's near impossible to pay attention. Be forewarned...if you LOVE this series and LOVE how Ikeda created these amazing characters, this WILL trip you up in the first 10 minutes of reading. I'll read the book first this time...the audio can wait.

27 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

What happened????

I am so disappointed with this book! It was such a colossal waste of time and I will never be able to get back those 23+ hours I lost on this horrible book.
I should have expected disappointment after book two but I had high hopes that it was just suffering from "middle book syndrome". Sadly no...
I adored A Discovery of Witches, thought Shadow of Night was boring, but I seriously disliked The Book of Life. It did not tie up any loose ends, there was absolutely no resolution on Ashmole 782 (really, what was the point of all of that?) and it was flat out boring.
I honestly don't know what happened to this series!

22 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Inconsistent

If you know you are writing a trilogy, why would you not wrap up your story. Instead we were introduced to new characters, new relationships were introduced, and the majority of them were left hanging. What happens with Miriam and Chris? Who and when will turn Pheobe? Will Diana live forever with her new found powers? What happens with Matthews siblings that they keep mentioning but don't always introduce? How was the first vampire made? If Ashmole was made of creature skin and hair, how did new pages appear when Diana was reading it, and who's skin was it? Did Aunt Sarah hook up with Nathaniel's mom? Will Matthew watch his children grow old and die, continuing his immortal torture of losing those he loves? Will he kill himself after they are all gone? The list goes on and on.

20 people found this helpful