Deborah Harkness, The Book of Life (2014)
And so it is over. After an intriguing first volume, and a rather entertaining second volume, I’ve saved the final volume of this trilogy for the third lock-down, hoping that it will indeed be the last (I hope I don’t jinx it by posting it publicly). Indeed it took me very far away from my allowed 10km perimeter, to London, Venice, French countryside, Upstate NY, New Orleans, in a whirlwind. The characters travel by private planes from Europe to the US and back for one reason or another, blissfully unaware of any virus except for certain genetic diseases that I will spare you the details. For the lock-down, nobody can predict that it won’t return again (keeping fingers crossed for vaccinations soon!), but for this trilogy, I can safely say that I won’t return to it.
It was surely a difficult task to finish this mammoth story and to tie all the plot lines. But this is one big mess of a story, and 560 pages of it! There are way too many things happening in the book, far too many characters springing out of nowhere (oh by the way, I forgot to mention my best friend, whom I haven’t talked to in a year, and I obviously forgot to tell him that I fell in love, got married, ditched my job and got pregnant… and he’s taking it all in strides, even as I tell him I’m in fact a witch…) or disappearing altogether.
It is a page-turner, but this time I mostly turned very fast to be done with it and to get answers to my questions, which I didn’t really get in the end! The pace also is very uneven, and the story has many inconsistencies. I believe the writer is trying to push her luck and provide enough material for other books, but, really, no thank you. It finally pushed me over the edge, from benign amusement to real annoyance. I can suspend my disbelief for paranormal romances to some extent, but there’s only so much I can take, especially when the main characters become rather bland and too perfect to be honest. I’d say that the main weakness of this third volume is the lack of a powerful plot arch. Diana and Matthew are so good and powerful that I was never worried that they would succeed.
If you’re not into vampires and witches and you want to have a good laugh, there are hilarious 1-star reviews in Goodreads about this volume. It also redeemed the hours I spent on the book. Now, I would love to be swept off my feet by another big book, even without vampires. What would you recommend?