Thursday, August 30, 2012
Shadow of Night: Book Review
Deborah Harkness's new novel, Shadow of Night, is her second foray into the "All Souls" trilogy that she began last year with the bestseller A Discovery of Witches.
The story takes place, where the last one left off, with newlyweds witch, Diana Bishop, and vampire, Matthew Clairmont, time walking to 16th century Elizabethan England. They plan to continue their quest to find the elusive Ashmole 76 document that brought Diana and Matthew together in the first book. This document has great importance to the world of witches, vampires and daemons because it holds the key to their creation and clues to their possible destruction in the near future.
In A Discovery of Witches I took issue with the characterization of Diana. I felt that for an educated thirty-something history professor she was much to naive and weak. She reminded me of Bella in Twilight. In Shadow of Night, Diana is much more together, smart and strong as she gets in touch with her powers as a powerful witch. This time it was Matthew's character I was disappointed with. The scenes where he was angry, seductive and scary were a lot more convincing than the many where he is broken and weepy. I guess Harkness was just trying to show that vampires can be vulnerable too.
A big difference between the first and second books is in the love scenes between Diana and Matthew. In A Discovery of Witches the lovemaking was very chaste (apparently vampires are sticklers for propriety). That changes to very erotic scenes between the newlyweds in Shadow of Night. In fact that and the time traveling to England reminded me a lot of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series.
Where witches, vampires and daemons are in scarce supply in the 21st century, Elizabethan England is full of them and it's fun to read about famous figures (Marlowe, Shakespeare, Raleigh, and Queen Elizabeth to name a few) in the context of "Magic".
If you already read the first book, Shadow of Night will definitely not disappoint. The historical details get a bit tedious if you're not into that thing, but the book is suspenseful and you will want to read through to the end. I'm already anticipating the third in the series.