Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness
Viking Adult, 2012
Fantasy; 592 pgs
I was so excited about reading the next installment of Deborah Harkness's trilogy, I beat down NetGalley's door and secured an early review copy. I really enjoyed the first book, A Discovery of Witches, and was eager to follow Matthew and Diana into the past as they sought out the book that would change everything and found a teacher for Diana's untrained powers.
Set in the late 1590's, Shadow of Night did not disappoint. I fell right into the pages like I'd never left their lives, feeling right at home.
A Discovery of Witches introduced Diana Bishop, Oxford scholar and reluctant witch, and the handsome geneticist and vampire Matthew Clairmont; together they found themselves at the center of a supernatural battle over an enchanted manuscript known as Ashmole 782. Drawn to one another despite longstanding taboos, and in pursuit of Diana’s spellbound powers, the two embark upon a time-walking journey.
Book Two of the All Souls Trilogy plunges Diana and Matthew 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 heart of the 1,500 year old vampire’s shadowed history and secrets. For Matthew Clairmont, time travel is no simple matter; nor is Diana’s search for the key to understanding her legacy.
Shadow of Night brings us a rich and splendid tapestry of alchemy, magic, and history, taking us through the loop of time to deliver a deepening love story, a tale of blood, passion, and the knotted strands of the past.
My husband spoiled me for time travel long ago, or, at least, made me wary. Inconsistencies, ripples of change, and all the technical over-analysis that can go into it. I probably would have handled it differently in Harkness's shoes, but that's probably why she is the storyteller. And I can't argue with her approach, not really. I thought Harkness pulled it off quite well.
My only complaint about the book is that it did seem to go on a bit too long. As much as I enjoyed reading and sharing in the experience of Diana becoming acclimated to the new time period and about Diana and Matthew's growing relationship, I found myself wondering if the characters would ever get back on mission--find the book and find a teacher. They made token efforts to do so now and then, but there seemed to be a lot of other stuff going along that was more the focus. That isn't to say I didn't enjoy the distractions--events and people included. They were interesting in and of themselves. It did take away from the general flow of the novel a bit, however.
I did really appreciate the way the couple's relationship evolved, although at times I wished they would talk to each other more instead of using their secrets and fear of being left by the other as excuses to continue to hide from each other. Still, I really got a feel for why Matthew was pulling away from Diana as time went on, and I could understand and empathize with him.
I continue to like Diana as a character. She doesn't back down easily and speaks her mind. She wasn't an easy fit in the 1590 setting and the author was able to get that across very effectively. I was just as fascinated by the details of that time period as Diana was--imagine meeting such well known historical figures face to face!
Although the novel is mostly told in Diana's voice, there were a scattering of chapters that provided the reader an idea of what was going on in the present, something I am thankful for as I would have missed not running into some of my favorite side characters. Events had transpired in the present Diana, Matthew and the reader weren't privy too, which make me even more anxious to move onto the third book. Only I can't. It'll likely be another year before that one comes out.
I am very curious to see where the author takes us with the final book in the trilogy. Going into this second book, I had a good idea, but I am not so sure about the third book. There are certainly threads leading from each of the books to the upcoming one, but the direction Harkness will go is still unknown.
You can learn more about Deborah Harkness and her books on the author's website.
Source: I received a review e-copy via NetGalley from the publisher.
© 2012, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.