This post is best introduced with a gif.
Why is that? Because last Tuesday, the final book in my favorite series since Nancy fucking Drew was released.
It was….Well, I thought the waiting would be the hardest part. Two years between releases for someone like me–someone who needs schedules and immediacy like congress needs Viagra–it’s hard. (harder than congress on viagra.)
I thought I’d adequately prepared myself for the end. I was head over heels in love with the first two books, A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night, reading each at least three times. In fact, I re-read them just recently in preparation for the final book.
While awaiting The Book of Life, I tried to read other books which people told me were similar in feeling to my beloved series, but they were never right. Reading them was nigh torturous. I suspect it was my due for my lèse majesté.
I’m going to try to keep my review spoiler-free, but it’s nearly impossible. I suggest/implore/demand you read this series before this review. Otherwise, scroll down for the food.
Culling together my feelings about this series, and this book specifically, is difficult. I shall endeavor to supply you with adequate words representing the tentacles of memory that this story has gripped and blended across my mind.
The Book of Life: In Paradisum.
If you’ve read my blog any length of time, you realize that my life is a sort of trichotomy of interests and occupation. The Mother, The Artist, and The Academic. I am by no means the only woman with significant scholarship to contain such a trifecta, but until Diana Bishop, the women of academia were as overlooked in fiction as they are in real life. Yes, since the release of DOW, we’ve seen authors like Penny Reid (another female author of notable scholarship) tackle the ins-and-outs of navigating a personal life while maintaining a learning lifestyle; but Deborah Harkness was one of the first authors whose works I read that did this with such grace and talent. (Diana Gabaldon being the other.)
*aside: when I first read DOW and found out that Diana was a rower, particularly of sculling, I set upon a peal of giddy laughter that frightened my fellow gym-goers.
In this final installment of the All Souls Trilogy, we pick up right where we left off in the end of Shadow of Night. Everyone is present and accounted for, and the three factions: witches, vampires, and demons are more engulfed in war than ever before. From the start, you can see things are going to come to a very bloody end.
Matthew’s son is stacking a staggering number of bodies, and Diana’s power has jettisoned into the stratosphere. All the while, The Congregation has shown its true colors as the racist, power-hungry body that it is.
This book contains so many twists and turns that it often feels as though you’re being ushered violently through a cyclone of information and emotion. Past mixes with present mixes with future in this beautiful conflation of a story. The romance is somehow both sweeping and understated. The reader aches for Diana and Matthew, but there is so much more going on besides their epic forbidden love affair, that it never becomes unbearable.
There is nary a bit of downtime to be had. One inaugurates the the first chapter with held breath and eager anticipation, and when the book reaches its end; the reader is at once thrilled at such a satisfying ending and esurient for more of the tale to be told.
The strangest thing about the All Souls Trilogy is that, while it’s decidedly paranormal, there is so much truth in the historical and scientific aspects of the storytelling, the magic and wonder become secondary. It reads as a warning against the mostly-apocryphal tales told to us by close-minded predecessors. It also serves to elevate the problems with retaining an antediluvian order or set of statutes. [read: witches can’t marry vampires, and you also cannot go whale hunting on a Sunday in Ohio.]
I haven’t loved a series this much in a very, very long time. It may be because my current scholarship is in Comparative Literature: The Story of the Bedarche People (as passed down through oral folklore, textiles, and petroglyphs.) And her historical and lit/science heavy writing is fascinating to me, but honestly, I think I fell in love with a strong protagonist who was strong enough to out-maneuver the impossible.
Five HUGE HUGE fucking stars.
Now? The food.
This recipe was inspired not at all by the book. I just wanted something yummy whilst I read.
Moscato and Roasted Plum Frozen Yogurt.
Moscato and Roasted Plum Frozen Yogurt
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: freeze overnight
Keywords: saute dessert dairy-free gluten-free paleo vegan vegetarian soy-free nut-free
Ingredients (4-8 servings)
- 1 quart plain greek yogurt (greek coconut yogurt works, greek soy does not.)
- 1 cup moscato
- 4 medium plums, skins ON, diced
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp culinary lavender (optional, but AWESOME. rosehips also good, just use less)
- 1 package knox gelatin (again, optional, but it really does help the fixing process.)
combine plums, moscato, vanilla, and maple syrup in a saucepan on medium
bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, reduce liquids by 2/3.
let cool about 50% stir in gelatin
let cool completely
stir together remaining ingredients
freeze overnight or place in an ice cream maker.
serve with a glass of port or moscato or tea.