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
Amazon
Goodreads

IT BEGAN WITH A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES.

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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A Discovery of Witches (Deborah Harkness)

A Discovery of Witches (Deborah Harkness)A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
Series: All Souls Trilogy #1
Published by Headline Book Publishing on 2011
Genres: Fantasy, Love & Romance, Paranormal
Pages: 594
Format: Paperback
Source: BookBridgr
Amazon
Goodreads

A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together.

Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism.

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

The storyDiana Bishop is a historian and an academic.  She also happens to be a witch, though she tries to ignore that part of her as much as possible.  When the mysterious Matthew Clairmont, fellow academic, geneticist and vampire shows up at Oxford, things in Diana’s life take a turn for the complicated.

When she calls up an old alchemical manuscript from the stacks in the library, Diana sets in motion events far beyond her control. The manuscript, Ashmole 782,  is clearly magical.  It makes her skin prickle, and Diana can tell there’s text beneath text, meanings out of reach.  With her reluctance to claim her inheritance, Diana sends the manuscript back, only to find out that no one else has ever been able to find it – and now witches, daemons and vampires alike are desperate to get it back.  Some believe the manuscript contains spells, some believe it contains the true origin of witches, daemons, vampires or all of them.  The one thing that is certain – everyone wants it, no matter what the cost, and Diana seems the only way to get to it.

The characters
I really liked Diana, the feisty, independent academic who has been determined to earn her way to the top without using her advantages.  She’s dedicated to her research.  She tries to keep her magic at bay by exercising out her extra adrenaline.

My only complaint is that I occasionally found Diana a little too perfect, and a little too knowledgeable.   For example, Diana reels off famous artists, obscure poets, historical artifacts and so on quite comfortably, which I found a little annoying, and it can occasionally feel like one of those chick lit novels that spends the whole time name-dropping brands.  I understand that Diana is a historian, but the whole point of a PhD is to specialise so Diana’s very broad historical knowledge could have been cut down quite considerably without seeming strange.

Matthew is, in some ways, a cliche vampire love interest.  He’s moody, dark and brooding.  He struggles to control his urges, and he’s full of secrets.   He also practices yoga, studies genetics, has a fine appreciation of wine and was friends with notable historical characters.  His quirks mean that although he shares elements with many other popular vampires, Matthew is likable and mysterious where many others are frustrating and martyr like.  It took me a while to make my mind up about Matthew (and indeed, I don’t think I truly decided how I felt until Shadow of Night), but I was certainly intrigued by him, and dying to see where things would go.

It’s worth mentioning that I also absolutely loved the secondary characters, who always felt like complete characters, and made the story feel much more three-dimensional.

final thoughtsA Discovery of Witches took a little while to hook me, but the characters, the romance and the mystery drew me in.  For me, the romance was a little heavier than I would have liked.  I absolutely love the idea of the origins of the supernatural creatures, and the biggest draws for me were that and the mystery of the manuscript. I found the prose too descriptive, but once the story picked up I didn’t notice too much, and the story had me too engrossed to stop in any case!

Buy it? This is one worth buying for me.
In a nutshell: An intriguing story, a novel concept, and a promising start to the trilogy.

Other Reviews of A Discovery of Witches: Kat Loves Books | Reading Lark | Elitist Book Reviews

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