Together we lifted our feet and stepped into the unknown.
A Discovery of Witches introduced Diana Bishop, Oxford scholar and reluctant witch, and vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, two otherworldly beings who found themselves at the center of a battle over a lost enchanted manuscript known as Ashmole 782. Drawn to each other despite long-standing taboos, and in pursuit of Diana’s spellbound powers, the two now embark upon a timewalking 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 the heart of the fifteen-hundred-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.
In Shadow of Night, Harkness again weaves a rich and splendid tapestry of alchemy, magic, and history. The love story deepens as she takes us through the loop of time in a tale of blood, passion, and the knotted strands of the past to deliver one of the most hotly anticipated novels of the year.
Firstly, if you haven’t yet read the first book in the trilogy, A Discovery of Witches, then you may want to be aware that this review will contain spoilers for that book. Now, with that out of the way… I read A Discovery of Witches last year, and I instantly fell in love with Diana, Matthew, and the very realistic world Deborah Harkness created that was filled with creatures and magic. The characters are fantastically easy to relate to, and beautifully flawed in a way that draws you into the story like a lover enticing you into bed. The plot was rich and I was able to picture the setting amazingly well in spite of the fact that I’m not very well-traveled.
At the end of A Discovery of Witches, Diana and Matthew use magic to step back in time to Elizabethan England in an attempt to find an experienced witch to teach Diana how to use her magic and to locate the ever mysterious manuscript, Ashmole 782. The first 25% of Shadow of Night was catching up on what happened in book one, and learning what life in England in the 16th century was like. I had a hard time getting into this book – mostly because of my aversion to all things historical (please don’t hate me Deborah), but once I was able to push past the beginning, the story took off, and the mysteries piled on top of each other almost faster than they could be solved.
The battles Diana and Matthew face as newlyweds test their relationship in ways most of us will never even have to think about. Diana must learn who Matthew was in his past lives and learn to accept him for who he was then, and who he is now. Matthew is forced to learn to trust Diana completely, and realize that she can take care of herself. The two are tested time and time again by suspicious friends, eccentric royalties, and nearby witch hunts.
Among other challenges, they face the reality that their actions in the past can vastly affect the future and the events still to come in the present time. Making new friends, taking on new staff, and resisting the advances of a lewd emperor, all leave evidence of their presence in the past and cause inconsistencies to appear in today’s time. Their loved ones still face their own set of challenges in the present while searching for clues to Diana and Matthew’s return.
Wow, it is HARD to write a review for Shadow of Night without giving much away. There were so many amazing things taking place in the book and Deborah Harkness breathed so much life into the characters and their surroundings that the plot is rich with twists and turns. I cannot wait for the conclusion to the All Souls Trilogy and hope Deborah isn’t taking her sweet time.
Listening To: “The Only One”, The Black Keys