Book Reviews, Reviews

Shadow of Night (Deborah Harkness)

Shadow of Night (Deborah Harkness)Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness
Series: All Souls Trilogy #2
Published by Headline Book Publishing on 01-02-2013
Genres: Fantasy, Love & Romance, Paranormal
Pages: 634
Format: Paperback
Source: BookBridgr


Historian Diana Bishop, descended from a line of powerful witches, and long-lived vampire Matthew Clairmont have broken the laws dividing creatures. When Diana discovered a significant alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library,she sparked a struggle in which she became bound to Matthew. Now the fragile coexistence of witches, daemons, vampires and humans is dangerously threatened.

Seeking safety, Diana and Matthew travel back in time to London, 1590. But they soon realise that the past may not provide a haven. Reclaiming his former identity as poet and spy for Queen Elizabeth, the vampire falls back in with a group of radicals known as the School of Night. Many are unruly daemons, the creative minds of the age, including playwright Christopher Marlowe and mathematician Thomas Harriot.

Together Matthew and Diana scour Tudor London for the elusive manuscript Ashmole 782, and search for the witch who will teach Diana how to control her remarkable powers...

Plot: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Readability: ★★★★


The storyDiana and Matthew are being hunted by witches, daemons and vampires all trying to get their hands on Ashmole 782.   Diana and Matthew travel back in time to avoid them, to try and find Ashmole 782 before it was cursed, and to find a witch capable of teaching Diana to use her powers.

If that sounds like a lot of story – well, it is!  There are a lot of plot threads to the story, but they keep you guessing the whole way through, and the joy of so many elements is that you’re bound to love at least one!

My only issue with the plot of Shadow of Night was the time-travel element – not that I didn’t enjoy it, just that it made my brain hurt.  I’ll admit I’m not the best with time travel at the best of times, but I didn’t feel like the logistics of the time travel in Shadow of Night were explained as well as they could have been. I have no idea how things were supposed to work – the original Matthew from the time period apparently disappeared? And everyone who’d met the ‘new’ Matthew (and Diana!) were just expected to pretend nothing happened when the original Matthew came back? This bit didn’t really make much sense to me, and in some ways I couldn’t understand why this time period was chosen. Surely it would have made more sense to go to a time and place the original Matthew hadn’t been? To just become two random newcomers?

The characters

Diana is still a great character, but I found her a little more relatable in Shadow of Night.  Despite her studies and her masses of historical knowledge, even Diana has a hard time fitting into the past, and I found the loss of a little of her sure-footedness made her seem more human.

Shadow of Night is absolutely stuffed full of supporting characters.  From the supporting characters we already know and love from A Discovery of Witches, to the famous historical faces introduced in Shadow of Night, yet again I feel like Harkness makes the story with her fantastic secondary characters.  The sheer number of characters can be a little overwhelming at times, and I’m not a history buff at all, but I really liked the personalities Harkness has introduced. Matthew’s father was particularly brilliant, and the scenes between he, Diana and Matthew are poignant and bitter-sweet.

final thoughts

Shadow of Night has a very different feel to it to A Discovery of Witches.  The time travel element makes Shadow of Night feel more like a historical fantasy novel, which I was really unsure about at first, but I really enjoyed it.  I loved finding out more about Diana’s powers, and the magic in general.

All in all, I felt the time travel element could have used some work, so I ended up just trying not to think about it.  Despite that, the plot was great, and the supporting characters were absolutely what made the story for me.

Buy it? This is one worth buying for me.
In a nutshell: A very different, but fantastically enjoyable, follow up to A Discovery of Witches

Other Reviews of Shadow of Night: Girls in the stacks | An Unexpected Book Blog | Caffeinated Book Reviewer

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