Review and Giveaway: The All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness

Posted 25 May, 2015 | Mary @ TheBookSwarm | Giveaway, Review | 8 Comments

There are some days, I’m late to the party (actually, it happens quite a bit, as I tend to shy away from bestselling books just because I’m hard-headed like that) and I was definitely late to the party with Deborah Harkness’s All Souls trilogy. I’d seen it around the blogosphere, Twitter and in magazines but just didn’t pick it up. Until I got the chance to read and PB boxed set imagereview all three in a row — ah, book binging. So satisfying!

Tuesday, Penguin launches the paperback edition of Deborah Harkness’s #1 New York Times bestselling novel THE BOOK OF LIFE and the gorgeous paperback boxed set of her All Souls Trilogy. THE BOOK OF LIFE is the long-awaited final chapter in the smart, sexy All Souls Trilogy, about historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont (Penguin Books; on sale May 26, 2015; $17.00). In this finale, Diana and Matthew continue their hunt for the magical alchemical manuscript, Ashmole 782, and reunite with beloved characters from the first two All Souls books to save their world from the powerful enemies who want to destroy it.

8667848A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES (All Souls #1) by Deborah Harkness
Paranormal, paperback, 579 pages
Published February 2011 by Viking Penguin; source: publisher

Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

And here I thought I was over vampires. Actually, I am but I also couldn’t put this story down. More so than the paranormal creatures, I was drawn to the rich history this author employed with deft skill. Our world has such an amazing, intriguing past filled with good and evil and Harkness pays such the attention to those details and history as she weaves historical and present-day facts and figures into this trilogy so seamlessly, it makes it easy to believe that there really could be witches and vampires living amongst us. As a historian, the main character Diana spends a lot of time in the library doing research and accidentally calls up this ancient text which sets in motion events that not only disrupt her quiet little life but that of all the paranormal humans in the world.

11559200SHADOW OF NIGHT (All Souls #2) by Deborah Harkness
Paranormal, paperback, 583 pages
Published May 28, 2013 by Penguin Books; source: publisher

Seeking safety, Diana and Matthew travel back in time to London, 1590. But they soon realize that the past may not provide a haven. Reclaiming his former identity as poet and spy for Queen Elizabeth, the vampire falls back in with a group of radicals known as the School of Night. Many are unruly daemons, the creative minds of the age, including playwright Christopher Marlowe and mathematician Thomas Harriot.

Together Matthew and Diana scour Tudor London for the elusive manuscript Ashmole 782, and search for the witch who will teach Diana how to control her remarkable powers…

It’s pretty much a race against time at this point. Matthew and Diana have broken so many rules by falling in love (a no-no for the different races of paranormals), Diana still has no idea what to do with all the power she has (except much is still locked up inside her) and finding someone in modern times to teach her will only bring the wrath of the ruling council. So they had back into the past (a power that Diana finds she has and shares with her now-dead father). They wind up in 1590 — not a great time to be a witch or even different. There are witch trials going on in Scotland and people are on edge. But Diana still needs a teacher and both Diana and Matthew are on the hunt for the missing manuscript. Let me just say that, while I enjoy reading about it, I would not want to live back when. Uncomfortable clothes, close-minded people, and lots and lots of dirt just…*shudder*. Matthew and Diana’s love is also tested by the amount of secrets Matthew is keeping (hey, he’s been alive a long time. Of course he’s going to have secrets.) but their connection doesn’t seem as strong in this installment. I did like meeting Matthew’s father, though, and I adored Gallowglass.

16054217THE BOOK OF LIFE (All Souls #3) by Deborah Harkness
Paperback, 576 pages
Expected publication: May 26th 2015 by Penguin Books; source: publisher

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.

Things move PDQ in this installment as everything’s coming to a head. Matthew and Diana work through a lot of their trust issues and, instead of bickering and not talking, they work together to collect all the pieces of the manuscript and solve their issues. As with the other two, I was sucked into the lovely writing filled with intriguing historical bits of trivia woven throughout. The secondary characters were bold and full of life (though I was sad for the death of one of them while Matthew and Diana were off in Merry Old England…*sniffles*). Harkness deftly pulled all the pieces of her large story together to a very satisfying conclusion.

Giveaway courtesy of Penguin Books (US only, please)
A paperback copy of THE BOOK OF LIFE (releases May 26!)

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8 Responses to “Review and Giveaway: The All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness”

  1. I made the mistake of trying this on audio and it was about 3 million hours long with a very boring narrator so I just dropped it. But I’m like you, the hype didn’t help at all. I’ll give this a try and hope to be proven wrong.