Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Bookish Thoughts: Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

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.

Book Desciption:
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.

26 comments:

  1. I have yet to read the first (can't find it on regular audio but Heather is going to get it for me). Once I've done that, then I will listen to this one, which I have. I'm pretty excited about the whole experience!

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    1. Sandy - You'll have to let me know how the audio versions are. I hope you like the books!

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  2. I still haven't had a chance to sit down with this book yet. I must get around to it soon! There have been other things going on and my reading has been slow. I am looking forward to it, though!

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    1. Kelly - It took me forever to get to the first book. Maybe wait until the final book is out that way you won't have to wait for the next installment once you catch up! :-)

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  3. I was so excited for this sequel after reading book one, but having had to wait so long, I'm afraid I forgot a lot of the story, especially since I read it so quickly. So do I invest the time in a reread so I can read book two, knowing I'll have to wait at least another year for book three? Decisions, decisions...

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    1. Carrie - Fortunately, I only recently read the first book so it was still mostly fresh in my mind. Hopefully having read the two books, I'll be good memory-wise going into the third.

      Good luck deciding whether to read the first book again. It might be worth it if you need a refresher.

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  4. I enjoyed this book, but I was also very frustrated by it too. Her version of time travel made no sense to me. So what happens when Elizabethan-Matthew comes back after present-day Matthew leaves? Won't he wonder why people think he has a wife? Does time just slap back to how it was before and everyone forgets about Diana? Time travel is such a tricky plot device--it needs to be really well thought out to make sense and I just don't think Harkness had it in her. The first part drove me nuts, but once they finally got back to the Ashmole plot line, it picked up for me.

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    1. Lauren - I know what you mean. I wondered about the Elizabethan-Matthew too. It seemed like present-day Matthew and Diana did what they could to ensure secrecy from the major players who knew what was going on. I guess the hope is that they'll do damage control? It wasn't very clear, was it?

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  5. I can't wait to get started with this one, and it is only a matter of time until I am well ensconced in this second book. I loved the first one to pieces, and from reading the early reviews, I can see that this one is going to delve further into the characters and their attributes, which excites and entices me. This was a fantastic review today, and I can't wait to get started! I am so glad that you loved it!

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    1. Heather - This second book definitely gives you a deeper look at the two main characters. Reading as they're relationship evolved was very interesting. I hope you enjoy Shadow of Night when you get to it!

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  6. My sister is really excited about this book!

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  7. I'm reading this right now, so...lalalalalalalalala.

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    1. :-) Looking forward to your thoughts on this one, Jill!

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  8. I've heard such good things about the first book, but still haven't made up my mind to try it. I'm not a big fan of witches/vampire stories unless they are written in a whimsical sort of way (like Harry Potter books).

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    1. Alyce - Then this trilogy might not be for you. Whimsical it is not. If you do try it though, I hope you will like it!

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  9. I finished this one last night, and I liked it, but didn't love it as much as Discovery of Witches. I go to the end of the book and then thought, what was the point of all that?

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    1. Marg - I'm with you. I liked the first book better. This definitely was a middle/transition book.

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  10. I definitely had more problems with this one than I did the first, but I did still enjoy it, and I'll be looking forward to the final installment. Will be posting my review soon, but the biggest problem I had was the lack of forward motion in many of the chapters. Took FOREVER to find Diana a teacher, for instance.

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    1. Andi - I thought so too. It seemed to take forever for the book to move forward. I wondered a few times if they'd forgotten why they were in the past in the first place. But like you, I enjoyed the book just the same.

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  11. I must take the time to read The Discovery of Witches AND this book! I've seen some great reviews and am intrigued. Now to just find the time...

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    1. Samantha - They are both pretty fast reads, despite their size. I think, anyway. :-)

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  12. I've yet to read the first book, though I have it in my pile for a while. As we all know, too many books, too little time! LOL.

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    1. Melody - Yes, I know that all too well. LOL I hope you enjoy the books when you get to them.

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  13. I still need to read the first in the series. Maybe I should wait so after I read the first two I won't have as long to wait for the third!

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    1. Kathleen - That might be a good idea, Kathleen! Waiting a year or more for the next book in a series or trilogy is overrated. LOL

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