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
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
This series has a really wide appeal but for those who are unused to
reading fantasy, be aware that this is similar to epic fantasy novels in
both length (it's a doorstopper) and in complexity of plot. Yet, as she has
proven before, Harkness goes well above and beyond traditional
paranormal fantasy fare. The historical elements were fascinating. The past was richly described and obviously well-researched. The book largely took place in the past but occasionally flipped back to
the present to keep the reader abreast of new developments while Diana
and Matthew are gone.
Shadow of Night was difficult to get into at first with a confusingly large amount of characters being introduced (including Matthew's "School of Night" friends) but the action really ramped up by about 15% into the book (I had an eGalley so I have to go by percentages). Soon, I could not put it down - which poses a problem when a book is as lengthy as this one!
There were quite a few relationship hurdles that needed overcome between Matthew and Diana. While this was fine at first, after awhile it began to grate on me a bit. Luckily, I think the author was getting these issues all out of the way so that the last novel is all action. Harkness will not disappoint fans of the first book A Discovery of Witches and despite having my critical "third eye" open, I did not find much fault with Shadow of Night.
Overall: I enjoyed the first book in the series a bit more (but that's not unusual for me) yet this is a solid second entry into the All Souls trilogy and I can't wait for the final installment!
*Disclosure: received galley via publisher