S.B.L.C. Reviews Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness
Shadow of Night (#2 All Souls Trilogy)
By: Deborah Harkness
Published by: Viking Adult
Published on: July 10, 2012
Review by: Maria G.
Publisher’s blurb: 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.
My Review: There’s a reason why this book took me so long to complete and that does not mean it was a horrible book. I mean, it was on everyone’s top 12 of 2012 lists for a reason. Let me back track a bit…
When we turn to page 1, we see that Diana and Matthew have been hurled into Elizabethan England. This is an era where the likes of Christopher Marlowe and Shakespeare exist and it is a world filled with darkness and political/religious intrigue. Basically forget Shakespeare in Love and think more Elizabeth…
We see that in this age, Matthew was a bit darker. However, due to the fact that the Matthew we know is now in the past, his confidants are thrown for a loop because this is not the Matthew they knew and loved and this Matthew has brought a wife with him and that is our Diana. Diana is frowned upon from the get-go. She makes an enemy out of Marlowe, just because she exists. She also does not speak in the language that everyone is accustomed to, nor does she look like the average Elizabethan woman. Then there is the fact that she is a witch with very specific talents that have to be harnessed. These two just hit wall after wall as they attempt to assimilate, work on Diana’s powers and hunt for Ashmole 782.
The bad: I felt like I was taking a history course on Elizabethan Culture and Politics. Now, there was a book that I read ages ago, Possession by A.S. Byatt, which was centered on the relationship between two fictional Victorian poets, and via two academics and a trail of clues from various letters and journals, we along with the two protagonists attempt to uncover the truth about Ash and LaMotte’s past before it is discovered by rival colleagues. So, when I initially read Discovery of Witches, I felt that it was attempting to take a page from Possession and I thought it would be this great adventurous tale with a supernatural tilt. With Shadows, there was none of that adventurous spirit. With that said, I understand that you want to give us a foundation in this current world, but I would have preferred that not being an ongoing crutch.
What I did love about Shadows of Night was seeing how everything that was happening in the past was affecting the present. I also loved seeing the trials and tribulations of Diana and Matthew’s relationship and watching Diana evolve as a witch; there is no doubt that there is much more of an emotional core to this book versus Discovery.
Do I suggest you pick this book up? Only if you have the time and patience to devote to this book.
Will I read the 3rd book in this series? Yes.
I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.
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