Sunday, 5 October 2014

The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness

I really wanted to read this book.  I loved A Discovery of Witches, it was brilliant.  I read it twice in a month and pushed my battered copy around friends wanting them to love it too. The second book Shadow of Night, didn't do it for me…it felt a bit “showy-offy” on how many historical characters can be crammed into Diana and Matthew’s timeline and the relationship part I really enjoyed previously seemed a bit lacking.  But second books are tough and there was a lot to set up to make the finale work, so I stuck with it and got really excited about The Book of Life.  

It was a long time coming, and when I first started reading I was overwhelmed by characters I’d completely forgotten…I had nooooo idea what was going on.  After a quick trip to wiki (highly recommended) I was back on track and I got more into it.  However, there are still so many characters that the opportunity to create greater depth and understanding of the really vital people was lost.  Gallowglass is an amazing character but even he got overshadowed at times.

There are a lot of things going on, but by the end I wondered what had actually happened.  Maybe that’s just me?!  Matthew and Diana become (don’t say it too loudly) boring and a lot of the book seems to be about them clocking up airmiles for reasons I don’t remember.  The bad guys we met in the first two books become side lined and the real villain comes from relative obscurity.   I didn't feel that the mystery of The Book of Life was actually properly explained and the way Diana’s appearance was changed/adapted through the novel was bizarre (and probably pretty unattractive).

I'm glad I've read the whole trilogy, but I am disappointed that for me, it didn't live up to the promise of the first book.

Thanks to netgalley and the publishers for my review copy.