Book Review

Shadow Of Night

Shadow of Night

  • Author: Deborah Harkness
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Publication Date: July 10, 2012
  • Publisher: Viking Adult
  • Series: All Souls Trilogy #2

CONTENT WARNING: misogyny, mention of miscarriage, mention of death of a child, mention of death, violence, blood, mention of torture, mention of suicide, confinement

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A Discovery of Witches introduced Diana Bishop, Oxford scholar and reluctant witch, and vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, two otherworldly beings who found themselves at the center of a battle over a lost, enchanted manuscript known as Ashmole 782. Drawn to each other despite long-standing taboos, and in pursuit of Diana’s spellbound powers, the two now embark upon a timewalking journey.

Book two of the All Souls trilogy plunges Diana and Mathew into Elizabethan London, a world of spies and subterfuge, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the mysterious School of Night. The mission is to locate a witch to tutor Diana and to find traces of Ashmole 782, but as the net of Matthew’s past tightens around them they embark on a very different journey, one that takes them into the heart of the fifteen-hundred-year-old vampire’s shadowed history and secrets. For Matthew Claremont, time travel is no simple matters nor is Diana’s search for the key to understanding her legacy.

In Shadow of Night, Harkness again weaves a rich and splendid tapestry of alchemy, magic, and history. The love story deepens as she takes us through the loop of time in a tale of blood, passion, and the knotted strands of the past to deliver one of the most hotly anticipated novels of the year.

I couldn’t wait to see where this book was going to take me, other than just Elizabethan London, of course, and boy was I right to be excited. Immediately after finishing the first book, I watched the first season of the show, and was greatly impressed with how well it was done. This held me over until I was able to start reading book 2. And once again, I found myself reading significantly slower than my usual breakneck pace, simply because of the gorgeous and evocative writing. 

Diana and Matthew have successfully made it to 1590 London, but the hard part is just beginning for them. Diana sticks out like a sore thumb in the community, and their two-fold mission poses a variety of complications. Matthew is a different person in the past, and Diana struggles with coming to terms with who he is in these much-changed circumstances, adjusting to who she has to be, as well as learning how to fit in, learning how to harness her own powers, and searching for the ever-mysterious manuscript. 

Diana still manages to be her feisty independent self, somehow, in a time that was dead set on stifling women as a rule. Women who stood out, especially those who were marked as witches, were placed in danger on a regular basis, and naturally, Diana is no different. She knew it was a risk to travel to the past, but when has that ever stopped her? This line in particular made me laugh, because while it made me think of Twilight, Diana is no woman with a death wish, and she certainly isn’t a meek woman with no protection or power of her own. She’s the anti-Bella Swan, basically:

“‘You would’t recognize danger if it came to you with an engraved invitation.’”

I fell in love with Matthew all over again in this story. He was already a complex character in the first book, but he became even more so in this one. We get to see more of the factors that make him who he is, especially when he travels back to his home and his family, and we are treated to learn even more about who he is and about not just his family, but his own past and the ghosts that haunt him. But even with all that, the connection between Diana and Matthew is even more clearly developed in this book, and I loved every minute of it.

There’s action and intrigue, and plot twists that kept me turning pages, unable to stop. I loved reading about actual history as well as the author’s own unique spin on it, seamlessly weaving magic into the story in a way that made it feel so incredibly real. It gave me some serious Outlander vibes in the best possible way. This book made me so happy and broke my heart, and I was able to feel the emotions of the characters along with them. Clearly, you already know that I’m watching season 2 of the show and have requested book 3 from the library. Until then, the show will just have to hold me over. But it better arrive soon, because watching one or two episodes has already turned into a binge watch, and I don’t see this season lasting me more than a day. 

People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.

Gasp Factor: 15

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