Title: Shadow of Night
Author: Deborah Harkness
Genre: Historical fantasy
Shadow of Night is the sequel to the popular book A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. That 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.
At the end of the first book, which I enjoyed immensely (though I read the paperback and struggled with the tiny text), Diana and Matthew go back in time and we are left wondering where they end up. In this book we find them in Elizabethan London in 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.
The characters in this series are superb, and this journey into Mathew’s past shows us a whole other side to him that makes him even more compelling. Diana handles the task of blending into Elizabethan society with the kind of spine one expects from a modern heroine. It’s certainly lucky that she’s a historian by trade. The triumph of this book is Mathew’s father Phillipe, who is dead in the first book. He is a wonderfully complex, aristocratic ancient French Vampire who seems very harsh when we first meet him, but by the time Diana and Mathew leave Sept Tours where he lives, I had fallen in love with him.
This book takes us deeper into creature politics, the intricacies of the de Clermont clan and Mathew’s secrets. I loved the way the author used the historic characters of the School of Night as Mathew’s friends, and the political repartee they engage in is very well executed.
The depiction of life in Elizabethan London is extremely detailed, perhaps too much so for many. I enjoyed the detail and assumed (hopefully correctly) that these details were historically accurate (if not, why put them in?) The first hand account of a modern woman made an interesting perspective on that world, and the power-plays at court (both in London and Prague) were delightful.
Plot wise, it was slow. The rich writing made up for that for me, but others could be champing at the bit for something to happen. Nevertheless, what had to happen, did happen, and though it could have happened in a lot less words, I was glad that the author was allowed to take her time and take us deeply into the characters and the world.
I enjoyed this book a great deal and if you like Vampire stories or historical fiction with a good dollop of romance then this is a must-read. 4.5 stars.
US Kindle Store
UK Kindle store
If you haven’t read the first book, and you like paranormal fantasy then I highly recommend that you do read it.
A Discovery of Witches: (All Souls Trilogy 1) in the US Kindle Store