Narrator: Jennifer Ikeda
Series: All Souls Trilogy #2
Published by Penguin Audio on July 10th 2012
Genres: Fantasy, Occult & Supernatural
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Also by this author: The Book of Life
"Together we lifted our feet and stepped into the unknown"—the thrilling sequel to the New York Times bestseller A Discovery of Witches
Deborah Harkness exploded onto the literary scene with her debut novel, A Discovery of Witches, Book One of the magical All Souls Trilogy and an international publishing phenomenon. The novel 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.
Now, 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.
Deborah Harkness has crafted a gripping journey through a world of alchemy, time travel, and magical discoveries, delivering one of the most hotly anticipated novels of the season.
All Souls Trilogy
Shadow of Night picks up immediately after A Discovery of Witches ends (and I do mean immediately with little to no refresher. This was my second attempt at reading and I attribute my success at completing it solely because of this recap I found online which was an immense help.) with Matthew and Diana traveling back into the past to search for Ashmole 782 and to seek Diana help with her powers. For those that don’t remember: Ashmole 782: the bewitched alchemical manuscript that Diana found in Oxford’s Bodleian library. After the local witches, daemons, and vampires begin targeting Diana in order to find out how an unskilled witch was able to obtain the manuscript that they believe contains important information about the creation and future of all supernatural creatures.
Considering the fact that I loved A Discovery of Witches I was beyond ecstatic when I snagged an ARC copy of Shadow of Night. Diving into it right away in hopes to devour it whole I realized immediately that that’s not how this was going to work. Positively rife with historical detail regarding the Elizabethan era and historical figures as well (Christopher Marlowe, Sir Walter Raleigh, John Dee, William Shakespeare and of course Queen Elizabeth I), this is one that will take some time to get through not just because of the amount of pages. The historical tidbits were interesting but I felt they lacked any sort of purpose and ultimately overpowered the true story making it much denser and longer than it should have been. The name dropping, while interesting, caused a bit of an eye-roll for me because did Matthew not have a single uncool friend that failed to make it into the history books? Apparently not. I can appreciate the obvious extent of the research the author conducted but including every interesting person from the time period felt a little like ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ and should have been scaled back a little to focus more on Matthew and Diana.
Shadow of Night definitely had a case of middle book syndrome. Add to that there’s a real non-ending that will likely cause some grumbles. There was progress in the storyline but mostly things of little consequence. My favorite aspects by far were the slight glimpses of the present day and how Matthew and Diana’s actions were inevitably changing the future. It was extremely interesting but those passages were so few and far between that I kept hoping for more. The evolution of Diana’s powers was the most fascinating. Going back in time only resulted in throwing them into chaos and the slight control she did have over them dissipated but discovering the full extent of her powers was truly shocking.
Shadow of Night was definitely my least favorite of the trilogy so far but I’m looking forward to some resolution and seeing how everything turns out. I plan on picking up The Book of Life soon in case Harkness continues her non-recap trend.