Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness – review

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  • What’s Shadow of Night about? The second installment of The All Souls Trilogy sees our star-crossed lovers, historian (and reluctant witch) Diana and scientist (and centuries-old vampire) Matthew head back in time to discover the mysteries of the manuscript that brought them together. As their hunt for Ashmole 782 leads them deeper and deeper into the fabric of 1590’s London – how long can Diana and Matthew keep themselves safe from the dangers of the past before they are forced to face their enemies in the future?

    goodtoknow says: Shadow of Night is not light reading. A hefty 768 pages long and jam-packed with historical facts and figures, this book takes a certain level of brain activity to tackle, but it is more than worth the effort.

    Picking up exactly where the Discovery of Witches left off (we would really recommend reading them in order or you will be a little lost!), the book takes place mainly in 16th century England (with a little trip to Prague thrown in!).

    Whilst painting a thoroughly descriptive view of the past, including historical figures such as William Shakespeare and Queen Elizabeth 1, Harkness manages to make the world believable, but not the focus of the story. Diana and Matthew and their forbidden love is again at the centre and provides enough emotional and dramatic material to sustain the lengthy book.

    With witch trials, deceased parents and the constant threat of discovery looming over their heads, the pair have to fight every day for their love to survive. What is so refreshing about their love story is that, unlike other vampire books, Diana does not simply follow Matthew and obey his every wish. Spiky and just as clever and powerful in her own right, Diana really grows as a character in this book as she discovers the depth of her magical ability. Matthew’s character is also given room to grow as his vampire coolness is lifted with a glimpse into his former lives, friends, families and heartaches.

    While a little hard to follow at times, this is one of the book’s strengths. While you’re trying to keep up with the location and all the historical figures, a new plot twist or development sneaks up on you out of nowhere. The historical figures, such as Queen Elizabeth, are given such full, well-rounded characters, it makes them stand out from any pre-conceived ideas we might of had of them and gives them a real human edge. Our only problem was that they were a few too many characters to keep track of – especially if your knowledge of Elizabethan history is a little rusty! Handily Harkness provides a glossary of characters at the end, detailing which ones actually existed in the past.

    Leading up to the epic battle brewing in the third installment, the second book in the series is inevitably a filler until the action starts, but with such detail, drama and emotion – it’s one hell of a filler!

    Rating: 8/10

    You’ll like this if you liked:

    The Discovery of Witches

    Publisher: Headline

    Publish Date: Out now

    Buy it now on Amazon

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    Where to next?

    The Book of Summers by Emylia Hall – review

    The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year by Sue Townsend – review

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