Book Review: ‘Shadow of Night,’ Book 2 in the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness

Note: Seeing as the book doesn’t release for another few months, I decided to make this a NON-SPOILER review! So all ADOW fans can enjoy! :)

As a book lover, of course I love receiving books. But there are always books that I’m way more excited for than others. When I received an ARC of Shadow of Night, the sequel to Deborah Harkness’ A Discovery of Witches, I legit screamed. I absolutely loved A Discovery of Witches. If you haven’t read it, stop reading this review and GO READ IT NOW. If you need a little more than my CAPS-y commands, well, check out my review of ADOW here. However, if you have read it and curious about the early buzz about Shadow of Night, let me just get it out of the way right now: I LOVED IT. (I promise that’s the last of the CAPS.) Shadow of Night immerses the reader into the Elizabethan era in Europe, full of rich descriptions and fascinating characters. Diana and Matthew embark on such an amazing, breathtaking adventure to discover who they are.

Shadow of Night picks up right after ADOW ends, with Diana and Matthew finding themselves in the year 1590 in England. Slightly disoriented, Diana follows Matthew’s lead, seeing as he’s a centuries old vampire who had already lived through the Elizabethan era. They are immediately greeted by Matthew’s friends, who happen to be historical figures you may or may not know, like Christopher Marlowe, Walter Raleigh, and more (Yes, Mr. Shakespeare may make an appearance). It is learned that Matthew had gone by the last name Roydon, and was a member of a small brotherhood of political figures, intellects and spies known as the School of Night. It becomes instantly obvious that Diana and Matthew’s plan to find the enchanted Ashmole 782 manuscript and a witch to help Diana learn more about her magic will be incredibly difficult. Bombarded with deception, secrets, duty and magic, together Diana and Matthew go on a journey to learn about each other and the origin of their kinds.

I don’t know what I was thinking at the end of ADOW, but I thought the sequel would quickly jump into the search for the manuscript and a witch to teach to Diana. It goes to show how much I know about the Elizabethan era (which isn’t much honestly, only combining the few facts from high school and the movie Anonymous. Sad, I know.). The time period was a pretty daunting time for society and in this case, especially for witches, vampires and daemons. Diana and Matthew are constantly on edge, while tackling obstacle after obstacle. Man, I really wanted these two to get a break, but I think all these complications finally made them the couple they needed to be. In ADOW, they kind of rushed into love, and now their relationship is finally being tested and they really begin to understand what their forbidden love means. In turn, Diana and Matthew, as characters, develop and change a lot throughout Shadow of Night.

In terms of the story’s pacing, I predict there’s going to many differences of opinion. For me, I thought it was spot on. Half the fun of Harkness’ books is the richly descriptive settings and history. Usually, something like that would bore me, but it fits into the story seamlessly and is engrossingly executed. (Truthfully, I learned more about the Elizabethan era in this book than I have ever learned in school.) Although, Shadow of Night (or even ADOW for that matter) aren’t books you can briskly read through. It’s definitely a story that you need to sit back and take in slowly because all the details matter. Sometimes, it can be overwhelming, but after the first few chapters, it’s easy to get in the flow of things, and then you just want to devour more and more. As I mentioned, all the new characters are completely fascinating, including all the “real” and fictional ones. Another thing I liked was how for a few chapters, Harkness switches over to the present for us to get a glimpse of what effects or changes are occurring because of Diana and Matthew’s actions in the past.

Shadow of Night is a stunning piece of historical fiction. It blends the supernatural with romance, history and drama. If you loved A Discovery of Witches, you are bound to adore the next installment as much or even more than the first. I must admit that now I’m totally depressed because who knows how long until I can get my hands on the next book?! Yet, I’m happy because I just came back from experiencing a wonderful adventure with Diana and Matthew. I can’t wait for the next!

Rating: 5/5 stars


Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness hits bookstores on July 10, 2012 in the U.S.  You can pre-order at our TYF Store, powered by Amazon.

Book info:

Publisher:  Viking (July 10, 2012)
Length: 592 pages, Hardcover
Source: ARC
Series: Book 2 of 3
Genre: Fiction, Supernatural, History, Romance
Completed: April 2012



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