All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness

I’ve decided to make a list of my likes and dislikes. These aspects feature in all three of the books. There might be mild spoilers ahead.

What I disliked about the All Souls Trilogy:

  • the romance plot and how Diana behaves around Matthew
  • the “setting” of book two (people who already read it will know what I mean; I don’t want to spoil anything for everyone else).

What I liked about it

  • the scholarly / historian stuff (i.e. resaerch, medieval manuscripts, genetics)
  • witchcraft / wiccan concepts
  • Oxford as a setting
  • Diana (pre-Matthew) and her witchy transformation
  • a bit of sarcasm when it comes to vampires – (Matthew once says “I don’t sparkle in daylight”)
  • and the actually reasonable explanations for vampire behaviour (Ms. Meyer, this is what you should have done!)
  • so many secondary characters; and most of them so interesting they deserve their own book (I’m looking at you, Gallowglass, Miriam, and Ysabeau!)

And now for my mini-review / ramble about this trilogy.
For two years now I have been waiting for this last instalment in the “All Souls” Trilogy. And honestly, I’m not sure it was worth the wait.

But let’s begin at the beginning. I LOVED A Discovery of Witches! I ate that book up! A female historian who is also a witch? Wonderful! I loved that from the beginning Diana was a strong female protagonist who had a kind of no-nonsense attitude towards life, the universe and everythhing! And though this does not really change throughout the trilogy, Diana developes a character trait that simply makes me cringe. I hate how fast the lovestory developes and how Diana acts around Matthew. It reminds me of the way Carrie behaves around Mr. Big in Sex and the City. It’s like all her confidence and intelligence dissapear because he kisses her or takes her into his strong vampire-arms (Diana that is, not Carrie). But I digress.

Starting with book two – Shadow of Night – the love story becomes much more prominent and all the vampire stuff about control and over-protectiveness simply becomes too much. And though Diana can and does hold her own against Matthew’s protectiveness and vampire tradition, the whole relationship got too gooey for me in that novel. There were passages where I felt that Diana had actually lost all her compelling qualities and has become a more intelligent version of Bella Swan. I did hate book two pretty much.

Book three The Book of Life actually managed to redeem a lot of the things that I hated about the second book. Diana becomes more and more confident and the focus lies more on the witchcraft and creature elements I loved so much in book one. Of course Matthew is part of all that but not in that annoying way he was before. But an awful lot happens in this book and sometimes I had the feeling the author did not think this trilogy through when she began it. It’s like with book three Harkness suddenly panics and hysterically begins tying up all kinds of loose ends and re-introducing every tiny piece of her creature mythology she had invented so far. Like she was afraid the reader had forgotten about all that happened previously. The only thing that remains unclear until the end is the Ashmole manuscript that started the whole thing. Which is absolutely unsatisfactory.

No, I don't mind cracking the spines of books. But that's a story I'll tell some other time.

No, I don’t mind cracking the spines of books. But that’s a story I’ll tell some other time.

My Ratings:

A Discovery of Witches   5 out of 5

Shadow of Night               1 out of 5

The Book of Life               3 out of 5

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