Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Book Review: "Shadow of Night"

"Shadow of Night" by Deborah Harkness
Book 2 in the All Souls trilogy
First published in 2012
577 pages
My rating: 4.5 out of 5

(image source)

As I wrote a few weeks ago, the first book in Diana Harkness' All Souls trilogy, "A Discovery of Witches," was the best book I've read all year. While book two, "Shadow of Night," wasn't quiiiite as good as the first one, it was a close second.

In book one, we met Diana Bishop, a witch who's spent her entire life denying her abilities. Diana's a historian and is at Oxford's Bodleian Library doing research when she requests to see an antique manuscript known as Ashmole 782; that simple act changes her life more than she ever thought possible and affects the fates of many other creatures -- witches, vampires and daemons. One vampire, Matthew Clairmont, has a particular interest in the manuscript, but while trying to get closer to it he's shocked to discover that -- in a world where creatures aren't supposed to mix romantically -- he and Diana have an undeniable connection.

It's always hard to write about a sequel without giving away too much of the first book's plot, but I will say that "Shadow of Night" takes us from the modern-day New York, England and France of book one to Elizabethan England -- the 1590s. Harkness again shows her breadth of historical knowledge and introduces us to many of the contemporaries of the day, from Queen Elizabeth I herself to Shakespeare to the Rudolf II, the Holy Roman Emperor. She also weaves magic, science and romance into the tale as Diana and Matthew attempt to locate Ashmole 782 and find a skilled witch to help Diana unlock the secrets of her magic.

These books, which certainly appeal to a wide variety of interest with Harkness' command over topic ranging from genetics to witchcraft to wine, will entrance you. And with that thought, I'm left to pine away for the last book in the trilogy, which won't be released until next year. Ah, the bittersweet anticipation of immersing oneself in an ongoing series...

Happy reading!

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