There aren’t many series that can compete for my attention and affection against Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. I had purchased and read this, the third and last book in the series, the moment it was published, so listening was my second time through.
In the third book of the trilogy, we find Diana Bishop, an American Oxford scholar returning from a time-traveling journey to Elizabethan England with her vampire-scientist husband, Matthew de Clairmont. All of those interesting plot twists are exposed in the first and second of the trilogy, and are present in the first few minutes of The Book of Life.
When I finished, I immediately felt sadness that the trilogy was complete, happiness at the resolution of many tense moments and a sense of that peace that comes when you say to yourself, “That …was a great adventure”. I loved, loved reading and then listening to TDOW, but I didn’t enjoy reading the next two books. Finales are always hard for me to write about and lately that feels like what I’ve only been writing about.
Matthew and Diana have come home to Sept Tours and plan to begin their fight against the Congregation. As for Diana’s pregnancy, Matthew is working on reconciling his blood-rage-induced protectiveness so that he cannot instinctually detect the babies as threat to Diana. There’s a lot that goes down in this book, but Harkness does fine job of tying almost all of them together into a nice neat bow by the end. Another thing I found disappointing was how predictable the secrets revealed by the Book of Life were. Regardless of those two things, I still find The Book of Life to be a solid ending to an excellent trilogy. Enter your email address to subscribe to TYF and receive notifications of new posts by email.
The experience just enriched my enjoyment of the story and I was able to glean a great many more details. As a result of their experiences in the past they are forever changed and now face the sanctions and even death, at the hands of the supernatural council.
The challenges that Diana and Matthew face, and the development of their relationship with their extended family (and the way the author skillfully enriches our understanding of the secondary characters) pulls you into another world and leaves you asking Deborah Harkness to please.


They enable us to more completely submerge into the story and the characters – even more so when there are multiple volumes. Many of my favorite series are coming to an end this summer, and despite how great an ending can be, it always remains bittersweet.
We are with Emily and Philippe, two deceased characters who mean a great deal to Matthew and Diana.
Only another even greater threat comes their way in the form of Benjamin Fox, or you may know him as Herr Fuchs from Shadow of Night.
Not only are we reading about Diana and Matthew’s missions, but we’re also chronicling Diana’s pregnancy and the research being done to help find a cure for blood rage in vampires. It’s something his friends and family constantly remind him about, as more of them find out Matthew’s secret. Without showering you with spoilers, some pretty cool moments do happen, my favorite being when the Book of Life is finally discovered.
One involves Gallowglass, and I hope if Harkness decides to revisit this world again, he becomes a central character. Diana fully comes into her own with this book, and I felt so fulfilled by seeing her become who she was always meant to be.
It is remarkable, then, that (as much as I love the audio versions of my favorite books) I had not listened to the first and second volumes in the series (The Discovery of Witches and The Shadow of Night). I strongly recommend listening or reading the series in order; I can not imagine trying to catch up to the details without having experienced the journey through the first two.
This is why you will often read online recommendations that Outlander audiobooks enthusiasts would love The All Souls trilogy – each book is between 23-24 hours, and the worlds are wonderfully detailed. There are a lot of characters in the book, with different accents, and she handles them well (she has French, British, different regions of America, various regions of Europe, cultured and uneducated).
That is now how I feel since I turned the last page of The Book of Life, the final book of Deborah Harkness’ remarkable All Souls Trilogy.
They are looking over their family reuniting at Sept Tours and are just as breathlessly wondered as we are by Diana’s once-thought-improbable pregnancy. Benjamin apparently has been searching for the Book of Life as well but by seeking out much more vile methods.


For the latter, Diana enlists her best friend Chris, a scientist who specializes in DNA and all that. It’s notably different than the previous books because it’s clear that we’re moving headlong into a finale. If he wasn’t a favorite of yours already, then this book will cement an avalanche of positive feelings for him. I was looking for a longer listen to keep me company during my daily commute when I came across The Book of Life audio.
In fact, the remainder of this review will have a few spoilers; I can summarize by saying now, the writing is wonderful, the narration matches the writing and I highly recommend the series.
I especially enjoyed the fact that her male voices are pitched lower, without sounding like the narrator has an artificial tone.
The exchange is between Emily and Philippe is fascinating and brings us right up to speed to where we were when Shadow of Night ended.
For centuries, Benjamin, who happens to be Matthew’s blood raged son, has been kidnapping and raping witches, in hopes to impregnate them and learn the secrets of his species: vampires.
Clearly, I’m not much of a science expert (at all), but since science takes up a considerable part of the novel, the author not only makes it easy to understand but connects it completely to the secrets of the Book of Life.
It’s hard not to become impatient at points because you really want to figure out what the real deal is already!
Between all the life-threatening altercations and dangerous missions, the sweet moments between family will resonate with readers the most, meaning that these characters transcend the words on the pages and turn out to be something more. I also enjoyed the speed of her delivery; in a book this lengthy, it is frustrating when a narrator moves too slowly. While the adventure is fun and thrilling, I realized that I read this book and trilogy because I cared deeply for these characters, which makes The Book of Life all the more satisfying and bittersweet.
Together with new friends and old, Matthew and Diana face political enemies, sinister dangers, and discover the truth in this epic finale.



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