Thursday, February 21, 2013

Book Review - Shadow of Night, by Deborah Harkness

All Soul's Trilogy, by Deborah Harkness
1. A Discovery of Witches    12/01/2011  * * * * * (My Review)
2. Shadow of Night              10/21/2012  * * * *

From Goodreads:
"Together we lifted our feet and stepped into the unknown"—the thrilling sequel to the New York Times bestseller A Discovery of Witches

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.

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 season.

My Thoughts:
Shadow of Night is indeed a gripping novel in many ways.  The author, Deborah Harkness, has definitely done the required research of the historical period and characters involved in this portion of the story, and manages to make England and Western Europe come alive.  From the moment Diana and Matthew arrive in England, and as they travel to London, France, and beyond, the reader is steeped in fascinating and colorful historical detail.

Unfortunately, as wonderful as the setting is, the story itself suffers from middle book syndrome.  The couple join up with Matthew's  friends - the School of Night - and seem to just wander aimlessly from place to place, reliving events that Matthew has already experienced, and is unable to change the outcome of those events.

Additionally, occasional forward-flashes to the current time are interspersed throughout the story, many of which don't seem to connect to anything that it happening in the story, and these tend to be a little confusing.

Overall though, it's a good story, if a bit slow, and sets the characters up for the events to come in the third novel, which I am anticipating reading.  I give Shadow of Night four stars, one less than A Discovery of Witches, due to the dragging plot lines and confusing flash-forwards.

Have you read Shadow of Night?  What did you think??


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