Saturday, July 7, 2012

ARC Review: Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

Shadow of Night
Author: Deborah Harkness
Publication: Viking Adult (July 10, 2012)

"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.

My Thoughts: This book felt very much like the second book in a trilogy. It begins immediately after the cliffhanger ending of A Discovery of Witches. Matthew and Diana are traveling back in time to try to locate Ashmole 782, a rare book that could answer some questions about the origins of daemons, vampires and witches. Diana also needs to find a teacher so that she can learn more about her powers as a witch.

This one is a honeymoon story but with lots more magic and political intrigue. I found the first section which takes place at Woodstock, The Old Lodge in 1591 England to be a little confusing and slow going. The combination of Elizabethan intrigues, alliances, and plots combined with the tensions between witches and vampires made me wish for a scorecard so that I could keep track of who knew what and which side everyone was on. It didn't help that Matthew seemed to have a foot in all camps and was a spy. Diana quickly learned that the scope and number of secrets Matthew was keeping from her was daunting.

Diana, as a scholar and historian, was also stressed as she tried to learn to fit in during a time period she had studied. It didn't help that there were a growing number of plans to get rid of all the witches at the same time she needed to find a teacher. Diana makes intriguing discoveries about her own powers.

When the story moved to Sept-Tours and became more of a romance, I found it easier to feel engaged in the story. I liked watching Diana and Matthew forge a marriage of equals. They are both strong-minded, intelligent people who are very different. In fact, part of the conflict in this book is that vampires and witches don't have anything to do with each other. Yet here are Diana, a witch, and Matthew, a vampire, falling in love and fighting through massive opposition from just about everyone to be together. It was also hard seeing Matthew interact with his father who was no longer living in the present time. Matthew had a chance to go back for a history redo. He was also helped by Diana and his father to get over the grief and guilt he was suffering. 

This was a massive story filled with historical figures and plots and counter plots happening both in 1591 and in the present. The prose was engaging. The descriptions made me feel that I was there with the characters. And there was a massive cast of characters to keep track of. Fans of historical fiction as well as fans of paranormal fiction will find a lot to enjoy in this rich, complex story. But it doesn't stand alone, read A Discovery of Witches first.

Favorite Quote:
I was perched on an uncomfortable wooden chair in a confining array of smocks, petticoats, sleeves, skirts, and a tightly laced bodice. My career-oriented, twenty-first-century life faded further with each restricted breath.
I received this eARC from Viking via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. You can buy a copy here.

1 comment:

  1. I agree that there was a large array of characters but I thought it sort of fit!

    And I also agree that it was hard to see Matthew and Philippe while we knew how he would be killed... but it warmed my heart when Philippe manages to heal some things in Matthew. :)


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