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Customer Review

254 of 287 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Prepare for the trip of your life...., July 10, 2012
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This review is from: Shadow of Night: A Novel (All Souls Trilogy) (Hardcover)
Every so often, a book comes along. It's everything you imagine a great fiction to be. It evokes the tremendous joy of just being able to read, to immerse yourself in a book so fully, to jump into a journey where every sense in your body is heightened and your mind stimulated. Then the last page is turned, you sigh with sadness since you know you will not be able to find another book like this for a long, long time.

Shadow of Night is such a book.

I wrote these in my review of the first book of the trilogy:

"The author has in depth knowledge not only about history, but also science, architecture, Europe, culinary delights and wine... The book immediately reminded me of "The Historian" by Elizabeth Kostova, since both story took me to places in Europe that I've never been and historical periods that were so enlightening.....The story will be a delight for people who actually enjoy accurate scientific, historical, culinary and geographical information. The author has a wealth of knowledge and a unique style of writing and she's willing to share."

The review still rings true for the second installment, and more so. For readers who disliked the first installment of the series due to the slowness of the beginning, you'll be delighted to hear that this book started right at the part where the first book dropped off, and is a thrill ride all the way to the end. You can also find satisfactory answers to most, if not all the burning questions that you had after reading A Discovery of Witches. I know it's a gruesome wait for the second book in the series, but the wait is well worth it...this book surpassed everything I had imagined it to be.

The story begins right where the first book left off, Matthew and Diana landed in Elizabethan England, 1590, hoping to find the enchanted Ashmole 782, as well as someone to help the spellbound Diana to learn her abilities. You'll be surprised to encounter real historical characters that came alive under Harkness' pen. Harkness' take on Christopher Marlowe, Elizabeth I, Walter Raleigh and others were unique and creative, yet totally believable. I wrote in my review of ADoW how I fell in love with all the characters in the first book, yet I'm equally invested in all the new characters in Shadow of Night, both historical and fictional. It's heartbroken to realize that these characters live in another space and time, and the only way I could reconnect with them is through the re-reading of this book.

If you loved A Discovery of Witches because of Harkness' extensive and detailed descriptions of everything, you're in for another treat. Harkness bought Elizabethan England to life using her professional knowledge and her unique writing voice: fashion, writing, architecture, food, music, writing, cooking, art, jewelries, home decors, smell of spices, and even the sound of church bells.... Be prepared to be immersed into 1600 Europe, from England to France and Prague, whether if you're prepared or not. I recommend you to drop or finish every other book in your list to get ready for the most sensual ride in your life.

I also love how Harkness incorporated a short chapter of the present after each part of the book. It shows how Diana and Matthew's interference with the past affects the future. Everything that we do or not do has an impact in future, especially in our loved one and family's life. Hopefully, history is valued and lessons learned. These chapters showed us how important it is to seize the moment and live your life, because there's no going back. A few tender moments bought tears to my eyes. Compared to ADoW, the second book is much more emotional.

Romance. Matthew and Diana in the 1600s were not without their problems. Matthew in Elizabethan era was a much more complex and dark character. The society was also less friendly for females, especially a witch with a weird accent. However, fans looking forward to more romance between them will not be disappointed. There are lots and lots of tender moments and love. It made up for what was lacking in A Discovery of Witches.

If I write anymore here, this review will become a book! I do have a few recommendations before you jump in for the journey of your life: 1) Read A Discovery of Witches first. There's no way you could understand the plot and all the complexity of this book if you don't know the history of the characters. 2) Many new characters are introduced in this book. Use the appendix/Guide at the end of the book to familiar yourself with them. They are divided by location, quite clever. 3) If you are going to look for a simple, easy read for entertainment, this book is not for you; but if you love history, science, Europe, art, literature, geography, religion, philosophy, (food and wine for ADoW)...then, get this book (and the first).
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Showing 1-10 of 20 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 16, 2012 9:49:27 AM PDT
Excellent review! I just received Shadows of Night and cannot wait to dig in. However, before I do, I am re-reading ADOW. I'm so glad I decided to re-read ADOW (read it the first time last fall) because I had forgotten many important elements.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 20, 2012 7:26:28 PM PDT
I don't normally re-read books, but I will definitely re-read this trilogy from time to time! I hope you enjoy reading Shadow of Night, S. Asnes.

Posted on Jul 25, 2012 3:36:57 PM PDT
Donna A says:
Great review .. I just this book a couple of days ago and Love it, loved it as much as the 1st. I recently saw Ms Harkness at a book signing and Matthew Roydon was a real person in the School of Night. I have just started relistening to the book .. I know I missed a lot.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 25, 2012 4:21:45 PM PDT
Donna: There is a list at the end of the book, that listed characters by location, as Woodstock, France, London, etc. Characters who are real historical figures have an asterisk next to their name. It's a very useful list. I ended up googling quite a few of them; very interesting!

Posted on Jul 30, 2012 12:49:40 AM PDT
"Harkness' take on Christopher Marlowe, Elizabeth I, Walter Raleigh and others were unique and creative, yet totally believable."

How so?

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 31, 2012 6:47:51 AM PDT
I completely agree. It is as if she traveled back in time and met these people personally.

BTW, has anyone noticed the pictures of Diana and Matthew on the spine cover of the book? I'm sure we all have an idea in our heads of what these two look like and those pictures are not at all what I had in mind. Does anyone else agree?

Posted on Jul 31, 2012 8:05:41 PM PDT
Luvtoread says:
I am sorry, though Harkness is a superb writer, 'Shadow...' falls considerably short from 'A Discovery of Witches'. I was sorely disappointed! As many of my friends and family were. I am hopeful that her 3rd in the trilogy will return to the quick wit and engaging story telling she produced in 'Discovery...'. I, as well as many, are crossing our fingers!

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 2, 2012 6:27:17 PM PDT
For example: Christopher Marlowe in SON is a daemon who is extremely intelligent, yet quite intolerant of women and may not always make the right decision while not giving enough time to think.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 2, 2012 6:28:04 PM PDT
What do you like about ADoW that fell short in Shadow of Night?

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 2, 2012 6:29:37 PM PDT
I agree, A. Asnes. Diana looked older in the drawing, and Matthew was a bit skinnier than I expected...
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