Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Book Review: All Souls Trilogy

I first found out about the All Souls Trilogy of books by Deborah Harkness when I read about the TV series that was going to be made starring Matthew Goode and Teresa Palmer. Being a Matthew Goode fan since seeing him on Chasing Liberty with Mandy Moore, I immediately looked for the books so that I could read them all before the series began.

discovery of witches
Cover Credit: Penguin Random House

The first book, A Discovery of Witches, is about Diana Bishop, a witch who does not want to use her powers but unwittingly discovers a book called Ashmole 782 that all magical/supernatural creatures (specifically vampires, demons, and witches) have been wanting to have for centuries.  She meets Matthew Clairmont (who I cannot picture as anyone else other than Matthew Goode, to be honest), a vampire who takes her under his protection. The two eventually fall in love and join forces to understand the mystery of Ashmole 782 as they fight off the other creatures who are after the book. 

At first, I was concerned that the book would be another Twilight since Matthew also mated with Diana, but I found that the whole mating thing is the only similarity between the two. For one, there is more of a plot to this apart from the forbidden love between two different creatures. Another thing is that Diana and Matthew are both very strong characters individually and these personalities make their interactions with each other more interesting than it just being about their romantic attraction toward each other.

The second book, Shadow of Night, takes Diana and Matthew to Elizabethan London to further discover the secret of Ashmole 782. I found this book to be more interesting than the first one because it tackles Matthew’s background and gives readers a better understanding not just of his character but of the relationship between the creatures in the past and how it has affected the present. Being a bit of a history nerd, it was also entertaining for me to read about how real-life characters interacted with Matthew and Diana as they met them in that time period. I can’t wait to see this book come to life in the TV series! The scenes where Diana is learning to harness her powers are the parts that I will be looking forward to.

The last one in the trilogy is called The Book of Life, which is about the return of Matthew and Diana to the present time and their final battle against the creatures who are after the book and are against their relationship. In this book, Diana finally embraces her powers and makes full use of it. With the first book focusing on introducing the characters and the second showing their backgrounds, this last one is a bit of an adventure as the characters lead a final battle to decide what the message of Ashmole 782 was all along. 

The series for me has been an exciting read and I would love to read more about Diana and Matthew in the future, if it is possible. I’ve read Deborah Harkness’ Time’s Convert which featured the two as supporting characters this time around, but I would still love to possibly read more about the two since the end of the trilogy showed them having kids (which could lead to more stories in the future if the author would be willing to do it). 

To me, the books were about discovering one’s true self and embracing it instead of denying it. The trilogy was also about accepting each other’s differences and letting go of the prejudices we have against each other and coming together for the common good. Apart from the romance and the adventure, I think that it was those values/lessons that made the books worth recommending to everyone. 

If you think it would be better to just watch the series instead of reading the books, I’d recommend reading first before watching because there are differences between the two (because the first book was compressed to just 8 episodes). Besides, there is a certain satisfaction to recognizing scenes in the books as they are inserted/compiled together in the TV show. Trust me, if you love to read, you’d enjoy it better that way!


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