Monday, June 25, 2012

Early Review - Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

“It begins with absence and desire, it begins with blood and fear,” I whispered. “It began with a Discovery of Witches,” time responded.

SHADOW OF NIGHT takes place pretty much where A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES left off. Fledgling witch and historian Diana Bishop and Vampire Matthew de Clermont have traveled back in time to the year 1590 where the couple hopes to find a witch to help Diana unlock her powers and find information on the missing pages of the Ashmole 782 manuscript.

For Diana, Elizabethan England is a full 360 degrees turnaround from what she expected and is used to even with her background as a historian. With her eastern American accent being towed around like baggage, she sticks out like a sore thumb and as a witch; she is in danger of being outed before she can learn about her bound magic.

Diana also gets a first-hand look at Matthews School of Night which includes Christopher (Kit) Marlow, George Chapman, Thomas Harriot, and Sir Walter Raleigh. The school of night holds heretical opinions, and they don’t exactly agree with Queen Elizabeth’s choices and decisions.

Diana and Matthew have already broken the law by just being together. According to the Congregation, Daemons, Vampires, and Witches are prohibited from melding together and forming personal alliances. They are also prohibited from interfering in human policies when it comes to politics and religion. So, naturally, it shouldn’t come as a shock to the reader when a huge surprise is revealed that will turn the story on its head. 

Harkness does more than an adequate job of describing the Elizabethan era, as well as another kingdom in Prague that Diana and Matthew are forced to travel to. I think the world building and character descriptions more than make up for the fact that this book is rather long winded at 592 pages.

I liked how Harkness gives brief glimpses into the present and how Diana and Matthew's actions are affecting everything they touch. I loved Diana's motherly affections towards two orphans that grew in the streets and how she really hated to leave them behind when it was time to return to their own time.

The story feels more like a historical novel, rather than a paranormal one which is totally fine with me. I really enjoyed the interaction between Matthew's father Philippe and Diana to the point of wishing we could see more of him. The relationship between Diana and Matthew has grown leaps and bounds and there is a huge surprise that Harkness throws in that will keep readers actively interested until the last page.

If you must know more about the characters that are introduced, you may look at the back of the book for each and every character and what they represent. I would have liked to see this in the front of the book, but that’s because I like things easily accessible.

The WTF moment of the book to me is the whole what happened to Emily (Sarah’s partner) between the end of A Discovery of Witches and this story and why didn't Harkness allow readers to find out? Obviously it was something bad, and in the line of saving someone's life from the bad guys.

“Black is the badge of true love lost. The hue of daemons, and the Shadow of Night.”

In summary, Shadow of Night is a novel that you must read if you have already read A Discovery of Witches. There is definitely more of a feeling that Diana has finally found her mojo and won’t wait around for anyone to get what she wants. She finally learns the truth about the fact that she’s a rare witch in that she can weave time and her own spells. She learns truths about her parents and has a warm reunion in the year 1591 with her father who has the same abilities.

I’m thankful to Penguin, Viking Adult, for allowing me early access to this title.

*ARC recvd 06/06/2012 via Netgalley for Penguin! Expected publication: July 10th 2012 by Viking Adult

Author:  Deborah Harkness
Title:  Shadow of Night
Publisher:  Viking Adult
Releases:  July 10, 2012


  1. Hi Shelley!
    At first, I thought this was a stand-alone and started reading your review: then I panicked and didn't read any of it. I'm compelled to read the first one though!

    p.s. the covers are so pretty!

  2. I'm still making my way thru the first book ... I've had to abandon it to get caught up on my reviews. But I can hardly wait to read this one ... Elizabethan England, my favourite historical period.

  3. Just finished this one now myself.

    I am not particularly happy Emily. Despite all the book's charms it did put a bad taste in my mouth. I will have read up on some spoilers before I pick up Book 3.