Shadow of Night (2012) by Deborah Harkness – Fiction
Book Two of the All Souls Trilogy
Shadow of Night is the second book in Deborah Harkness’s All Souls Trilogy. I wrote a review of the first book, A Discovery of Witches, earlier this year. If you would like to remain completely spoiler free, stop here. I recommend this trilogy. Go get a copy!
Picking up immediately from A Discovery of Witches, Diana, a witch who does not understand her incredible power, and Matthew, her vampire husband, find themselves in Elizabethan England. Diana and Matthew, using Diana’s power to time-walk, enter into the year 1591. Matthew picks the date, attempting to be careful to not place Diana in danger from witch hunts and in a time where they hopefully won’t upset the past and the future too much.
Of course, danger lurks around every cobblestoned corner. Harkness builds off her first novel’s rich historical background by submersing Diana, Matthew, and the reader into the characters and magic of this unique time period. Diana learns that Matthew was a small part of the School of Night – a group of poets, scientists, philosophers, and spies. These men included Sir Walter Raleigh, Thomas Harriot, George Chapman, and Christopher Marlowe.
Christopher Marlowe, or Kit, of Dr. Faustus legend, is a friend of Matthew’s who also happens to be incredibly in love with him. Harkness makes Marlowe a daemon, which makes sense in her world as historically Marlowe tended to be prone to waves of emotion and of course, incredibly creative.
“You say you love him.” Kit turned to me, his face full of entreaty. “Do you truly know what he is? Have you seen him feed, felt the hunger in him when a warmblood is near? Can you accept Matthew completely – the blackness in his soul with the light – as I do? You have your magic for solace, but I am not fully alive without him. All poetry flies from my mind when he is gone, and only Matthew can see what little good I have in me. Leave him to me. Please.”
Harkness breathes life into all these ancient characters and creates a few of her own to create the world where Diana attempts to learn about her magic and who she is. At the same time, both Diana and Matthew continue their search for Ashmole 782, the mysterious book that caused Matthew and Diana to flee back into time from those who hunted for it.
As I mentioned in my review of the first book, the novel is probably about 150 pages too long. It drags occasionally, and while all the characters are incredibly interesting, Harkness introduces so many that at times it is hard to keep track.
If you liked the first book however, it is hard not to pass this one down and continue the journey. I enjoyed Harkness beginning to really develop the relationship of Diana and Matthew. Instead of the plot completely overshadowing the personality of these characters and relationship, she ensures that they grow through challenges. Diana learns how much little she actually knows about Matthew and his 1,500 years of life. A lot of secrets yet to be uncovered.
“After all my searching, I discover that I am who I always was: Matthew de Clermont. Husband. Father. Vampire. And I am here for only one reason: To make a difference.”
Lover of the written word.