So after my long and very rambling review of A Discovery of Witches, I hope to make more sense with this one – but no promises.
Shadow of Night is the second instalment in Deborah Harkness’ All Souls Trilogy and picks up right where ‘A Discovery of Witches’ left off, as Matthew and Diana journey to the past in order to unravel the mysteries of Ashmole 782 and to find a witch to help Diana embrace her magic. It sounds quite simple when I say it like that, but of course for a book that stretches over 630 pages it is not going to be as simple as that.
As with the first book what I really enjoyed most about this novel is that you can tell Harkness is a historian, as the attention to detail and historical accuracy are simply amazing. I often found myself stopping after I had read something to google more about a certain person or to see if what had happened in the book actually did happen.
Certain parts around Queen Elizabeth I and Walter Raleigh I had heard before in movies and tv shows about Elizabeth, other parts were completely new to me and I loved how well she blended commonly known history with lesser known details and then added in a fictional story which to me was simply genius. I found myself especially drawn to the members of the School of Night and think I will be doing some more reading into this as I was so intrigued.
Unfortunately for me, while the history in this cannot be faulted, I found myself becoming less impressed with the actual story as it felt like it was becoming too complicated and convoluted and that certain aspects of the story were being jumped over too quickly. For instance, Diana miscarries after becoming pregnant the first time they had sex (Cough *hello twilight* Cough) but this seems to be a small trifle.
Likewise, in the last part of the book when Diana and Matthew return to the present, we are randomly told that Auntie Em has somehow passed away, this left me completely baffled – I am hoping that this is explained in the next book but I am not convinced it will be.
Lastly, the actual relationship between Matthew and Diana is less than convincing, they are supposed to be a new couple (and then newlyweds) but I found them lacking in the heat and passion that you’d think would convince you to get involved in the middle of a dispute between Witches, Vampires and Demons that has been going on since forever.
I actually laughed at one point where Diana and Matthew are ‘arguing’ and Diana says “If you want to end this marriage, have the courage to end it cleanly so that I might- might-be able to recover from it. Because if you keep looking at me as though you wish we weren’t married, you’re going to destroy me” – no kidding, I laughed at this in a total WTF?? moment, I am not sure if I had been missing the clues that something was amiss but this seemed to come completely out of the blue to me. In all honesty, my other favourite time travelling pair of trouble makers, Claire and Jamie Fraser from the Outlander series, have no fear of being outdone in the romance stakes by Matthew and Diana.
At 630 pages this book looks tempting and inviting when you first pick it up but it does become a bit of a hard slog after a while which is why I found it took me quite a while to finish. I am going to continue with this series and I have already purchased ‘The Book of Life’ in anticipation, but I think I need to read some other books first before I delve back into this again.