Saturday, August 4, 2012

Shadow of Night - Review

Title: Shadow of Night
Author: Deborah Harkness
Source: Barnes and Noble

Goodreads Summary:

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:

I have been working up to this review all morning.  It is such a huge book, length and breadth, that I am finding it intimidating to review. I am going to treat it like most of my reviews; I don't usually do a play by play of events, but really talk more about my impressions, and what stood out, what I liked and disliked.  And try not to give too many spoilers, although that might happen. So, that being said, here I go tackling it.  

Diana and Matthew are in Elizabethan London at the book's beginning, and meet Matthews old friends in the School of Night, including Christopher "Kit" Marlowe, who is a demon in this book. Except demon is spelled old englishy as daemon.  I have always loved reading Marlowe's poetry, although I haven't read any of his plays, and enjoy hearing theories on his life. Like Shakespeare's plays were really written by Marlowe, etc. I am not a believer of that, I feel Shakespeare did write his own plays, but I do like to read about it. Shadow of Night touches on this, as well as the thoughts/facts that Marlowe was an atheist and homosexual.  I like that Matthew is part of the School of Night in the book, and that Kit is in love with Matthew. And it is very important in the advancement of this book.

So, Diana and Matthew end up moving to London proper, and Diana is in search of a witch who can teach her how to be a witch, and to learn exactly what her powers are and why they have changed now that they have changed the time they live in. On the way (I think, the characters moved around so much I have a hard time keeping track of the timeline in my head) they stay with Matthew's father, Phillipe, also a vampire. Who I completely loved and adored!! I want a book all about Phillipe.  Anyway, they live with him for awhile, and he accepts Diana into his family totally and fully, even marking her forehead with blood in a ritual making her his daughter.  Matthew and Diana have a wedding there, then hell breaks loose a little, and they move on. 

So, back to the London parts, Diana is learning how to be a witch, and they find out the she is a little fire witch, a little water witch, and a time spinner. Just like her dad. Diana learns more about her parents and her life when she was little, and more witchy stuff, while Matthew is dealing with vampire politics and government politics.  Here the book starts to become a little slow for me, and they go off to Prague and I thought that was almost unnecessary - but then a lot more happens with the Ashmole 782. 

One thing I like about this series is the combination of history and science. My degree is in History, with a minor in Literature, so that could be one reason I like these books so much, especially this one. I like that Diana is all about the past and history, and Matthew is all science.  And I like that the Ashmole is a little of both. 

A few negatives: I have to admit, I didn't remember a whole lot from Discovery of Witches apparently, so I was lost a little at first.  But that is my fault, and if you are rusty on Discovery of Witches, you might want to reread it before reading this one. I also thought the book skipped around locations too much, and there were a ton of characters. So many in fact, there is a list in the back explaining them all. I wish I had spotted that before I read it, not after. And Matthew is tight with all the major names in history - I found that a little annoying. I guess maybe some would be ok, but all was crazy. Then finally, there is the whole question of the time travel.  The 16th century Matthew was poofed away when 21st Century Matthew popped back in time- when 21st Century Matthew goes back to his own time, then 16th Century Matthew will pop back. This hurt my brain - where did 16th Century Matthew go? And won't he be confused when he comes back? And won't people wonder where Diana went?

Anyway, this book was pretty good, athough you could could get lost if you don't remember the first well. Make sure you look at the chart of people - I could have used this while they were in Prague - I had a difficult time paying attention to that part of the book. But I liked this book more than the first, I felt there was instant action where the first one seemed to me to really just be setting the stage for this book.  I like historical fiction, so that worked for me too.  I will definitely read the next in the series, for the negatives to me were minor enough to warrant it.  And I want to know more about Ashmole 782, and what it means to the witches and vampires. We learned a bit, but I want to know more. I also want to see what it unlocks.

*One final thought - did anyone else think of Jamie and Claire Fraser from the Outlander series while reading this? I kept thinking about them! I think I need to reread that series now.  Jamie Fraser is one of my all time favorite characters. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi ya, it's Christine from Rainy Day Reads. This is a great review. I loved Shadow of Night and A Discovery of Witches. I agree though, my brain hurt when I thought about how Matthew would pop back when future Matthew went back.. I just didn't think about it. lol I am lucky enough to be going to an evening reading with Deborah Harkness in a couple of weeks down in Woodstock, just outside Oxford. I can not wait!!! I am so excited.. :)

    Anyway, you had asked on my blog about City of Fallen Angels. I say stick with it! You will be happy you did. There are more ups and downs but all in all the story is good. I agree with Jace pushing Clary away, it was driving me insane!! But the character development is great and the other characters get a lot of story time which I found wonderful. :) So don't give up..

    Christine x


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