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Shadow of Night: A Novel (All Souls Trilogy) Hardcover – July 10, 2012
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Amazon Best Books of the Month, July 2012: Deborah Harkness burst onto the scene with her 2011 debut A Discovery of Witches, a book that introduced legions of fans to Diana Bishop, an Oxford scholar, and Matthew Clairmont, a handsome geneticist. Diana also happened to be a witch, and Matthew a vampire—and readers couldn’t get enough of them, right up to the thrilling cliffhanger ending. Now Shadow of Night picks up where the first book leaves off, with Diana and Matthew entering Elizabethan London, where Mathew is part of the mysterious School of Night, a group that counts Christopher Marlowe and Sir Walter Raleigh among its members. Characterization, a great eye for detail, and a story that takes some notable twists and turns make this a great novel that will more than live up to eager fans’ expectations. It’s even better than the first. -- Chris Schluep
Praise for Shadow of Night
“A captivating and romantic ripping yarn.”
—E. L. James, “Books of the Year 2012: Authors Choose Their Favourites,” The Guardian
“The joy that Harkness, herself a historian, takes in visiting the past is evident on every page. . . . A great spell, the one that can enchant a reader and make a 600-page book fly through her fingertips, is cast. . . . Its enduring rewards are plenty.”
“Fans of Harkness’s 2011 debut A Discovery of Witches will be delighted. . . . Harkness delivers enough romance and excitement to keep the pages turning. Readers will devour it.”
“Deborah Harkness takes us places we’ve never been before. . . . Shadow of Night isn't just about wonderfully detailed descriptions of England in 1591, it's about being there. Readers time-travel as precisely and precariously as Diana and Matthew do. . . . Shadow ends as Discovery did with promises of more to come. Lucky for us.”
“Harkness exudes her own style of magic in making the world of late 16th century England come alive. . . . Enchanting, engrossing and as impossible to put down as its predecessor, Shadow of Night is a perfect blend of fantasy, history and romance. Its single greatest flaw is, after almost 600 pages, it’s over. If you’ve already read and enjoyed A Discovery of Witches, picking up Shadow of Night is an absolute requirement. Otherwise, pick up both, and consider your reading list complete.”
“Picking up where she left off in last year’s A Discovery of Witches, Harkness proves she’s not suffering from a sophomore slump with this addictive tale of magic, mayhem and two lovers.”
“Rich, period fun, particularly delightful in its witty characterization of historical immortals . . . Shadow ramps up the supernatural suspense.”
—New York Daily News
“This novel is as much a love story about a bygone era as it is about Matthew and Diana. It overflows with a colorful cast of characters, many of whom Harkness has plucked straight from the history books, and Harkness renders the late 1500s in exquisite detail. . . . The writing is so rich, the characters so compelling . . . and best of all, Harkness manages to execute with aplomb the act of answering old questions while posing new ones that will intensify anticipation for the final installment. Readers who have been counting down the days, take heart: The wait was most assuredly worth it.”
Praise for A Discovery of Witches:
“A wonderfully imaginative grown-up fantasy with all the magic of Harry Potter or Twilight. . . . An irresistible tale of wizardry, science and forbidden love.”
“Romantic, erudite, and suspenseful . . . Harkness attends to every scholarly and emotional detail with whimsy, sensuality, and humor.”
—O, The Oprah Magazine
“A thoroughly grown-up novel packed with gorgeous historical detail and a gutsy, brainy heroine to match. . . . Harkness writes with thrilling gusto about the magical world.”
—Karen Valby, Entertainment Weekly
“Harkness conjures up a scintillating paranormal story. . . . Discover why everyone’s talking about this magical book.”
“Delightfully well-crafted and enchantingly imaginative . . . It has some of the same ineluctable atmosphere that made Anne Rice’s vampire books such a popular success.”
“A debut novel with a big supernatural canvas . . . Its ambitions are world-sized, ranging across history and zeroing in on DNA, human and otherwordly. Age-old tensions between science and magic and between evolution and alchemy erupt as Diana seeks to unlock the secrets of Ashmole 782.”
—Los Angeles Times
“Harkness, an eloquent writer, conjures this world of witches with Ivy League degrees and supernatural creatures completely—and believably—while maintaining a sense of wonder. . . . A Discovery of Witches is that rare historical novel that manages to be as intelligent as it is romantic. And it is supernatural fiction that those of us who usually prefer to stay grounded in reality can get caught up in. Pardon the pun, but Witches is truly spellbinding.”
—San Antonio News-Express
“Readers who thrilled to Elizabeth Kostova’s 2005 blockbuster, The Historian, will note the parallels, but A Discovery of Witches is a modern Romeo and Juliet story, with older, wiser lovers. Blood will flow when a witch and a vampire fall for each other. Author Deborah Harkness, a UCLA history professor, brings vast knowledge and research to the page.”
“Harkness works her own form of literary alchemy by deftly blending fantasy, romance, history, and horror into one completely bewitching book.”
“A Discovery of Witches becomes increasingly charming as it goes along. . . . A shrewdly written romp and a satisfying snow-day read for those of us who heartily enjoyed the likes of Anne Rice and Marion Zimmer Bradley. By the book’s rousing end . . . I was impatient for the sequel.”
“A captivating tale that will ensnare the heart and imagination of even the most skeptical reader. This fantastic first novel will leave you anxious for the next installment, and sad to leave the remarkable world Harkness has created. Simply put, A Discovery of Witches is literary magic at its most potent.”
—Stephanie Harrison, BookPage
“Set in our contemporary world with a magical twist, this sparkling debut by a history professor features a large cast of fascinating characters, and readers will find themselves invested in Diana’s success at unlocking the secrets of the manuscript. . . . Harkness is an author to watch.” —Library Journal (starred review)
“Harkness creates a compelling and sweeping tale that moves from Oxford to Paris to upstate New York and into both Diana and Matthew’s complex families and histories. All her characters are fully fleshed and unique.”
—Booklist (starred review)
“Harkness brings this world to vibrant life and makes the most of the growing popularity of gothic adventure with an ending that keeps the Old Lodge door wide open.”
“A Discovery of Witches is a strange and wonderful novel of forbidden love and ancient spells that turns every preconception about magic on its head. Deborah Harkness has written one of the most exciting novels I’ve read in years. . . . I fell in love with it from the very first page.” —Danielle Trussoni, author of Angelology
“Deborah Harkness’s novel is a brilliant synthesis of magic and history. A gripping story of dangerous passion, intellectual intrigue, and fantastical beings.” —Ivy Pochoda, author of The Art of Disappearing
“A fleet-footed novel set in a vivid otherworld, richly peppered with scholarly tidbits. Huge fun—with serious underpinnings of history.” —Jane Borodale, author of The Book of Fires
Top customer reviews
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First, the time-walking; I have a few problems with how this was carried out. For instance, the historical Matthew conveniently vanishes with future Matthew visiting. I can see how this was the only way Harkness could have the story she wanted, but it’s such a bald-faced deus ex machina. Matthew of course knows the famous historical figures of the time, including queens and emperors, which seems awfully stupid for a creature whose very existence relies on everyone else not noticing that he isn’t aging. Matthew and Diana also seem to have picked a very unstable and dangerous time to visit; I never really figured out why they thought that was a good idea. They’re supposed to not make changes to the past, but how could they possibly not when they’re dealing with such powerful people? And yet of course they don’t end up changing too much despite everything they’re doing that the time-appropriate Matthew wouldn’t have. There’s also the inevitable historical trope of the headstrong woman vs. the overprotective man in her life.
Diana is still a Mary Sue, right down to taking in a street urchin on a whim who then becomes a treasured member of the family. The unique familiar. The need for a highly unusual set of teachers. The jealousy or adoration that everyone feels for her. (Yes, even the relevant emperor becomes besotted with Diana. Don’t tell me you’re surprised.) She’s also still ridiculously easy for people to manipulate; she does a lot of stupid stuff–but of course since she’s a Mary Sue, these things don’t come back to haunt her.
What I really want to know is how on earth Matthew-from-the-future and Diana could possibly expect historical Matthew to not notice (after modern Matthew goes back to the future) that he’s been out of commission for ages. I don’t care how much his friends are determined to shield him from that knowledge, it’s going to be really hard to avoid people, say, asking him where his wife is, given that they got to know everyone. It just doesn’t add up. Again, it’s a hand-waved deus ex machina.
THE STORY: Diana Bishop, a witch, and Matthew Clairmont, a vampire, have broken the law of creatures by having a romantic relationship. Jumping off from the events in book one, Diana and Matthew have traveled back in time to Elizabethan England in order to find a teacher to help Diana learn about and control her powers. Although the two seek safety in the past, they find that a whole new host of dangers threatens them and their relationship.
OPINION: A long and meandering journey through Elizabeth's England where the fictional characters mix with real historical figures, this book develops both the mythology of the trilogy and also the relationship between Diana and Matthew.
I enjoyed seeing these characters approach the challenges that face them. The book, which like the others in the series is over 550 pages, asks for a commitment from its readers. Everything is slow and deliberate -- not boring, not pointless -- and takes its time developing both the characters and the plot. At times during the book, I wondered whether the destination would be worth it. While the conclusion excited me about the finale book in the series, the entirety of the development of the relationship between Diana and Matthew and their own working out of their own challenges from their past snagged me for every page.
The book doesn't always go in the way that I expected it to and it is certainly an epic read. It does suffer somewhat from being part of the trilogy and the middle book at that. At the end of the book there is no real conclusion -- because there is one more book. Thus, this book doesn't truly stand on its own and requires reading both the first and third books in the series.
WORTH MENTIONING: The historical expertise of the author is put to good use here. The past feels authentic and I enjoyed using this book as a springboard to learn more about the real historical figures depicted in the book.
CONNECTED BOOKS: SHADOW OF NIGHT is the second book in the All Souls Trilogy. The book should be read as part of the trilogy.
STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.
Most recent customer reviews
Recommend this to anyone. It is such a great read