Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness – Book Review

Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness
Published by Viking Adult, an imprint of Penguin

This is the second  book in All Souls Trilogy, I previously reviewed the first book, A Discovery of Witches. This review may contain spoilers for previous books in the trilogy.

The present has become far too dangerous for Diana and Matthew. A vampire and a witch are not supposed to be in relationship with one another, and Diana and Matthew’s marriage puts their very lives at risk. With others out looking for them, it would be impossible to find a witch who can help Diana master her long-dormant powers, and her powers must be mastered if the couple and their friends and family are to be safe, and if they are to ever find Ashmole 732.

With so much at stake, staying in the present is not an option. Instead, Diana and Matthew timewalk about to Elizabethan England, stepping into the life that Matthew once lived. For a historian, this seems to be the opportunity of a lifetime – particularly once Diana discovers that Matthew’s circle of friends at the time included the infamous School of Night – but fitting in in the past is more difficult than Diana would have ever thought. Still, being able to see some of the people and events that shaped the Matthew she knows in the present, as well as the possibility of finding Ashmole 732 while still intact and that of learning more about her own abilities, is too great an opportunity for Diana to pass up.

It is no secret that I adored Deborah Harkness’s debut novel, A Discovery of Witches. Shadow of Night picks up exactly where A Discovery of Witches left off and, is perhaps even the better book. Many times, the second book in a series serves more as a connector between the first book and the second than a story worth telling in and of itself. Shadow of Night, however, is a strong story on its own, and does not require the extensive character and world building that A Discovery of Witches had, thus allowing Harkness to jump straight into the story – after all, we were left with a bit of a cliffhanger at the end of A Discovery of Witches. There is a bit less of her vampire/daemon/witch mythology here than there was in the first book, which is mildly disappointing, but only in retrospect. While reading, there is no time to wish for anything more, what with the witch hunts lurking ever present in the background, and meeting Matthew’s father.

The one problem with Shadow of Night? I don’t even know how long I’m going to have to wait for the end of the trilogy.

Highly recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher, via Netgalley.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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13 comments to Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness – Book Review

  • You had a decidedly different reaction to this than I had. I found the sequel slow and at times boring, which made it easier to find fault with some details. I’m glad to see that it does live up to the expectations for others though :)

    • I saw you talking about it on Twitter and was surprised you found it slow, since I thought it picked up much faster than DISCOVERY OF WITCHES, but that can be a very personal reaction, it comes down partly to whether or not the story catches you, and it seems to have caught me and not you.

  • I had the same reaction as you. I actually didn’t mind the deviation from the supernatural mythology, because she delved deeper into history with this one, and history is my great love. You could tell she had an absolute blast bringing these people to life.

    The wait for book 3 is going to be torture. I don’t think she’s started writing it yet!

  • I’m glad to hear you liked it, since it has been getting so many mixed reviews on Twitter. I really enjoyed the first one, and I’m looking forward to reading this one.

  • I still need to read the first book. I had no idea this was a trilogy!

  • Argh! I’m going back and forth between reading it right away, and hoping I remember enough about book one that I won’t be lost, or waiting until book three comes out and reading through the entire series. Decisions, decisions….

    • That is a tough call. I didn’t read the first until December and basically started this the day the egalley was available, so I only had three or four months between the two. Going to revisit the first two in audio before the third comes out, I think.

  • I definitely think this is one of those books that people will either really love or just really not love. For me, it was waaaaay too long and practically nothing happened to move the plot along. I can definitely see how history buffs would love it though! It picked up for me when she finally starts focusing on Diane’s powers and the Ashmole book. But I was very frustrated that the main series plot arc barely moved forward–as that was what I found most interesting. I did, however, enjoy meeting Phillipe. He is probably the strongest character in the series, so far.

  • I am glad you liked this. I haven’t got around to reading my copy yet, so just saw the ‘highly recommended’ part. :)

  • I loved this also. I felt like I was going slower with this (savoring it, I tell myself), but in the end I think I only took a day, maybe two longer than ADoW. I was actually expecting a bit more of John Dee in the book, so was a little surprised on how little he was in it. I got a steal on my hardcover of this, so I’ll probably pick up the audio, and can have rereads of both while waiting for book three. And likely pick up her history writings.

  • Just wondering. Did you like the Marcus Phoebe thing? 8)