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The All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness | Book Series Review (Spoiler-Free)

If you read my Jan wrap-up, as you might be aware; I’ve been trying to get through the All Souls Trilogy that began with A Discovery of Witches. I’ve had the first book on my shelves for so long – I think I bought it around the time the TV show was announced! And at the end of last year, I finally decided to pick it up because I was in a really ‘witchy’ book mood. All three books in the series are around 620 pages so they are thick and it was quite hard to get through them especially as I went through quite a hard time in January, and when reading thick books and reading slowly, it feels like you’re reading the same book for forever.

Finally, I finished the last book this week and I’m now happily going to give you a short series review. In case you haven’t read them before, here’s the blurb for the first book:

Goodreads Blurb: A Discovery of Witches

Fall under the spell of Diana and Matthew in the stunning first volume of the No.1 internationally bestsellling ALL SOULS trilogy.

A world of witches, daemons and vampires. A manuscript which holds the secrets of their past and the key to their future. Diana and Matthew – the forbidden love at the heart of it.

When historian Diana Bishop opens an alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library, it’s an unwelcome intrusion of magic into her carefully ordered life. Though Diana is a witch of impeccable lineage, the violent death of her parents while she was still a child convinced her that human fear is more potent than any witchcraft. Now Diana has unwittingly exposed herself to a world she’s kept at bay for years; one of powerful witches, creative, destructive daemons and long-lived vampires. Sensing the significance of Diana’s discovery, the creatures gather in Oxford, among them the enigmatic Matthew Clairmont, a vampire genticist. Diana is inexplicably drawn to Matthew and, in a shadowy world of half-truths and old enmities, ties herself to him without fully understanding the ancient line they are crossing. As they begin to unlock the secrets of the manuscript and their feelings for each other deepen, so the fragile balance of peace unravels…


Book 1 | A Discovery of Witches:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Book 2 | Shadow of Night:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Book 3 | Book of Life:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Series Review Time:

I feel like I have a strange love-hate relationship with this series because I enjoyed it ~ but it’s also the kind of book that I tend not to enjoy. That is mostly because these books were slow; they were so slow-paced and very much character-driven so the plot crawled across these three thick books like a bloated snail that just snacked on pizza. I have to admit that it was so hard to keep reading these books because I really wanted the pace to pick up and for the action to happen but it only ever did in bite sizes and the most unexpected moments (which isn’t a bad thing because it was nice not predicting what would happen ahead of time).

Although I hated the slow pace, I couldn’t help but love the characters and immerse myself in the world so I really pushed myself to get through it and I think it was worth it. Diana is such an interesting character and goes through so much in this trilogy, and I genuinely enjoyed reading from her perspective. My favourite part was that by the end of the series, there was a huge cast of characters that made up the de Clairmont family clan & friends that it was heartwarming and the teamwork was so satisfying and fun to read. There were a lot of found-family aspects and awesome magic usage in a world built so well that things made sense.

To be quite honest, this reminded me a lot of Twilight. It was like a better written, vampire romance (except with a witch) in a bigger, expanded world. The writing was really great, and despite the slow plot; it never felt like it was super hard to read and I genuinely enjoyed all the scientific content involved and learning a bit about the historical elements that related to the characters (not that I’d know if it was accurate or not but I hope). I’m a lover of both science and history so it felt like a great combination, especially when you have an educated and confident heroine like Diana.

In terms of each individual books; Book 1 was a great introduction. I loved learning about both Diana and Matthew as characters as they get together and work towards finding the answers to their questions. Book 2 was somehow my least favourite. Although we got to meet so many great and important characters, it felt like it dragged a lot more than the other two books. I think there could’ve easily been 200 pages or so cut off from this novel because it all felt like pure character development and set up for the last book. Book 3 was the finale where all the action and everything Diana and Matthew built towards finally came to fruition. It was satisfying and easily the best one to read, and upon finishing I was still left thinking about the characters and their future.

Overall, this series was pretty good. It was quite enjoyable but just very slow. If you love a slow, calming book with emphasis on character development; this one is probably for you. If you love more plot-based novels, you might struggle through this like I did.

What I’m most excited about after finishing this, is watching the adaptation! I’ve been told it’s quite true to the books and I’d be really interested to see my favourite characters on screen and what they might’ve changed. Teresa Palmer is also an amazing Australian actress so A Discovery of Witches is definitely on my watch-list for 2021!

Have you read this series before? What did you think?

Until next time,

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  • ursa

    The All Souls Trilogy is easily one of my favorite series! I read it in high school (that was many years ago, dear god) and I still love it so deeply. I’m so glad it got an adaptation, and overall the tv show is good (I haven’t watch s2 yet, and mostly because book 2 is my favorite and I have so much expectations…) even though the show is really more fast-paced than the book, but it also gives some elements we get in book 3 right at the beginning of the show and I feel like it helps us understand more easily this rich world. And Theresa and Matthew are perfect for the characters!

    There’s a fourth book too, Time’s Convert, which is set after the events of book 3 and focuses on Marcus and his past, and it gives us a glimpse of the lives of our favorite witch-vampire family, but there isn’t much otherwise. I was a bit disappointed by this fourth book, it would have been much more enjoyable as a novella I think.

    • Tracy

      Ah I’m so glad you enjoyed this series! I’m definitely keen to watch the show and I’m happy to see so many fans loving the way they’ve adapted it so far. I didn’t know about the 4th book so I’ll consider it in the future! Thank you <3

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