We’re going to try a new formatting from now on for book reviews. Just to provide some more information if you were curious.
Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness
Publisher: Viking Adult
Genre: fantasy, historical fiction, fiction
Picking up from A Discovery of Witches’ cliffhanger ending, Shadow of Night plunges Diana and Matthew into Elizabethan London, a world of spies, subterfuge, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the mysterious School of Night that includes Christopher Marlowe and Walter Raleigh. Here, Diana must locate a witch to tutor her in magic, Matthew is forced to confront a past he thought he had put to rest, and the mystery of Ashmole 782 deepens.
A whirlwind, mind-bending, fantastical experience of a read! So much is thrown into the second installment of the All Souls Trilogy, and Harkness accomplished it without overwhelming the reader with information and twists. There truly is so much in this novel to work with. First, the characters not only travel to Elizabethan London, but also to France and Czechoslovakia (at the time, the Holy Roman Empire or Bohemia). Names are dropped constantly, and depending on your background you may recognize them: Marlowe, Raleigh, Bacon, Rudolf II. Never fear — Harkness provides an index at the end of the book to inform the reader of historically acknowledged characters and what they were known for to help you understand their role in the novel. Diana even experiences moments of memory tugging, attempting to remember why she recognizes certain names and what they were known for.
Plenty is revealed about Diana and Matthew’s characters as well. Questions about Diana’s power are answered, and unfold into spectacular and terrifying results. Matthew’s over-protective behavior and sometimes cold, unfeeling actions are explained when they meet his father, Philippe. The history of vampires and witches and daemons, the ways they are connected, and ways Diana and Matthew’s connection could help and harm history and the modern era are explored seamlessly.
Harkness also provides an equal balance between the search for truth and the romantic relationship. For once, a trilogy does not involve a love triangle. Instead, Matthew and Diana face hardships of their own. Neither fails in loving the other, which is wonderful. They are a mature couple working through the kinks of the relationship as they discover each other, their personal histories, and their roles as vampire and witch in both modern and historical society. It’s absolutely amazing, and incredibly refreshing to read this sort of relationship.
This novel needs proper attention and care when reading. There is so much depth — with history, with fantasy, with characters’ personal growth — that mindless reading will leave the reader boggled rather than enlightened and entertained. I cannot wait for the third installment! It will be brilliant. This plot continues to build and strengthen with each page, and I have no doubt Harkness will end this with a bang!