Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Review: Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness
2nd installment of the All Souls Trilogy
Paperback, 583 pages
Published May 28th 2013 by Penguin Books (first published July 10th 2012)
Dates read: January 10, 2015 - April 6, 2017

Shadow of Night took me over 2 years to read because I felt it was very slow moving to start despite picking up immediately after the cliffhanger ending of the first book, Discovery of Witches. Part of me wishes I stuck with it so I could remember more details, but part of me is okay with that because most of those details aren't necessary to still enjoy the book. I didn't find it as difficult to keep up with the details as I did in Discovery of Witches, perhaps due to the structure of the book being broken up into 6 parts, and also providing a section in the back called Libri Persona: The People of the Book, which names the characters in each part and who they are.

Luckily, I took copious notes at the beginning so I could remember it enough to write a review eventually, and did read the majority recently enough to remember it well enough.

One of my favorite aspects is that it is a historical fiction novel that goes into exquisite detail of 16th-century London from the plot and characters to all the sights and sounds, food, habits, and relationships. Matthew and Diana seemed to naturally take the opportunity of the slower time period to get to know each other and allow their relationship to develop more slowly and naturally rather than being so rushed like the first novel.

Although Diana is a historian and ecstatic to be in one of her favorite time-periods, she is desperately out of place with her wardrobe, foreign accent and mannerisms. Matthew and his friends of the time (some of whom Diana is meeting again), assist her with fitting in. Fairly soon after arriving, they work quickly to find Diana a witch to train her, though they must do so discretely to avoid detection because her witchcraft could get her burned at the stake. She eventually does become more confident in herself, and most notably in her abilities as a witch and her relationship with Matthew. She's also witness to how women have no rights in Elizabethan London despite a female queen, and in a way uses this to her advantage to prove her equality/partnership to Matthew which helps them become closer.

We also learn so much about Matthew through Diana slowly peeling away his many layers, and through their love, loss, jealousy, running a household together, and having a "family" via many of his compatriots and family members we had only heard about in Discovery of Witches. Harkness did a wonderful job at weaving them in and out of the story and giving them their own unique voices, including Gallowglass, the Queen, and many other prominent noble characters of the time.

Shadow of Night built upon the many questions in Discovery of Witches we asked about Ashmole 782, and answered some. It gave us insight into the troubles facing creatures several centuries before Diana's time, and actions that may or not be the beginning of the end for witches, vampires, and daemons.

Highly recommend for anyone who loved Discovery of Witches, who loves historical fiction, and fantasy. If it weren't for reading Discovery of Witches for book club, I would never have picked this off the shelf to read on my own because I typically do not enjoy fantasy, but I have actually enjoyed this trilogy so far and look forward to reading The Book of Life.

Rating: 4 out of 5. 

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