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 Ashmole 782.
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. Book description.
I was given this copy free for review, but as always on the basis that my opinion is honestly held, and whether paid for or free my views are not influenced by that. Integrity is important to me and gushing false reviews do neither author nor reader any favours. As always my views are what I honestly feel about this book.
This book is the second in a trilogy and is in paranormal romance and historical adventure genre. In the first one historian Diana Bishop, descended from a line of powerful witches, and long-lived vampire Matthew Clairmont have broken the laws dividing creatures. When Diana discovered a significant alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library, she sparked a struggle in which she became bound to Matthew. Now the fragile coexistence of witches, daemons, vampires and humans is dangerously threatened. Seeking safety, Diana and Matthew travel back in time to London, 1590. Matthew uses his former identity as a spy for Queen Elizabeth and meets with old colleagues, a radical group known as the school of Night. He introduces Diana as his wife. They seek to find the missing manuscript and to find a teacher for Diana's increasing witch powers so she can have control of them. It’s a difficult line to tread, pleasing the Queen, keeping other super-naturals from harming Diana, meeting with people from his past and explaining why they are there. Some can be trusted yet others not and it’s a fine line they tread to avoid trouble. Intending to be there a few weeks they end up spending several months in the past. Diana is entranced as a historian to be living in the period and yet fearful of the dangers they are in.
Their search and escape from danger takes them across the world to meet many people, both real life famous ones and commonplace imaginary characters and they are aware of the need to have as little impact as they can on the past because of its influence on the future. It’s an amazing adventure and so well woven that if feels like we are living that period too. Deborah seems to have entranced the reader with one of Diana's spells... I loved the first book and this one steps seamlessly into the next taking us on a whirlwind adventure. As with the first this book is packed with plots and adventures and Deborah's past as a historian shows in the incredible detail that makes us feel we are living in the period. I was quickly swept into a world where vampires, witches and daemons were believed in although it was a somewhat uneasy truce between them and humans and they always needed to be aware of the dangers of exposure. Matthews’s nephew Galloglass – with his references to Diana as “Auntie” was one of my favourites and he played a major part throughout the book. The fine line between doing what they needed to do, playing the political cat and mouse game and keeping safe was very cleverly done. There were times I felt Diana was going to be overwhelmed by it all, especially when as she had been warned that the Matthew of the 1500's wouldn't be the same as the one she knew from the 2000's. He was as always totally in love with her, but at times his old nature took over and he appeared quite unfeeling. Gradually as they spent time there he became more of the “old” Matthew – or perhaps I should say “new” Matthew given that I’m referring to the one in the future.
I can't praise this book highly enough – I’m a quick reader and yet it took me a couple of days to get through it as it’s so packed with facts. I loved the spell weaving and how Diana learned more about her position as a witch. I'm going to go back and read book one and then follow on with this one as it’s so full of information about the people places and times that I’m sure I missed much that I’ll enjoy second time around. I often re read books for that purpose enjoying seeing how skillfully plots are woven together.
Its very well written and edited, as was the first one. It’s hard to believe that Deborah is a new fiction writer – these read as though crafted by someone with many years of fiction writing experience. There are no nasty loose ends, no plots that fizzle out or have a feeble resolution – everything here is believable if you can suspend your belief enough to get caught up in the world of paranormal.
Its excellent value for money both from the point of being an entrancing well written novel to the fact that it contains a massive 592 pages, 1011 KB one book. Its available as both hardback at £8.83 and e book at £8.99 with paperback version planned for later release. If you enjoy a solid fantasy packed full of intrigue and history you'll love this book.
Stars: five of course – an amazing book to read over and over.
Reviewed by Midnight Ruby
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