Friday, June 29, 2018

Book Review: Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

Pages: 584
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction/Fantasy
Pub. Date: July 10, 2012
Publisher: Viking
Source: Personal Copy/Audio Book
Other Books By Author: A Discovery of Witches
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "J. K. Rowling, Stephenie Meyer, Anne Rice—only a few writers capture the imagination the way that Deborah Harkness has with her New York Times–bestselling All Souls trilogy. A Discovery of Witches introduces reluctant witch Diana Bishop, vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and the battle for a lost, enchanted manuscript known as Ashmole 782. Picking up from A Discovery of Witches’ cliffhanger ending, Shadow of Night takes Diana and Matthew on a trip through time to Elizabethan London, where they are plunged into a world of spies, magic, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the School of Night. As the search for Ashmole 782 deepens and Diana seeks out a witch to tutor her in magic, the net of Matthew’s past tightens around them, and they embark on a very different—and vastly more dangerous—journey."

Shadow of Night picks up where A Discovery of Witches leaves off. Diana and Matthew find themselves in Elizabethan England where she hopes to learn to harness her powers as a powerful witch.  Actually finding another witch to help her proves to be challenging though; plus, the actual issue of the time period complicates things further. Witches are being rounded up and executed, so this isn't something you really want to advertise. Plus, she is an educated female and that wasn't exactly commonplace in the 1500s. Also, there's the issue of females in Elizabethan England. Feminism is far off, so Diana has to assimilate into a more meek and mild role. They spend some time with Matthew's father, his old friends, and some famous faces, like William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe. There's spies, magic, romance, and of course the search for Ashmole 782.  Although it seems like Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness should be a continuation of a very compelling series, this book, ultimately, fell flat for me in so many ways.

I really enjoyed Diana in A Discovery of Witches, but that was not the case in Shadow of Night. That's probably not her fault as Elizabethan England demands a different behavior from women. I didn't find this time period or version of Diana compelling at all. It irritated me and I thought she really was in Matthew's shadow in this book. I don't like that from my heroines.

Speaking of Matthew, he was decent in Shadow of Night and I liked learning more about his past, his father, and even his old friends.  However, his relationship with Diana was lacking in this book. There were some steamy scenes, but it just didn't work for me like it did in book one. They fought a lot in Shadow of Night and about stupid stuff. It felt more Twilight to me and less Anne Rice meets J.K. Rowling.  I was reminded why I don't read books with vampires anymore.

Although the time period was somewhat amusing, the actual time travel wasn't too believable in Shadow of Night I liked the famous faces that popped in, especially William Shakespeare towards the end, but I wasn't really bought on the fact that they had to time travel. It seemed almost liked Harkness likes this time period and wanted to write a story with her characters there.  You can tell Harkness had some fun with this book in that she took some creative liberties with famous people, which I was ok with, but it just wasn't enough "fun" for me to love.

The narrator of the audio book, Jennifer Ikeda, was great though. I really enjoyed her and it wasn't her portrayal of the characters that made me not enjoy this book as much as I was hoping, but rather it was the plot and the setting just not living up to my expectations.

So, needless to say, it was a decent audio book if you want to pass the time, but it didn't wow me like A Discovery of Witches. I'd say Shadow of Night suffered from the dreaded sophomore slump.


  1. I still need to read A Discovery of Witches. I've been into witch-y novels this year so perhaps I will finally get to it. I'm sorry to see this one suffered from the sophomore slump.

    1. A Discovery of Witches was great....definitely check it out! Thanks for visiting, Sara!

  2. Totally agree, I’ve just started this book after finishing and loving discovery of witches, and I just can’t handle the overwhelming sexism. It’s nice to find a review on this point without spoilers. I’m only on page 65, but I really can’t believe what a rampant misogynist Matthew has become (deepening bad qualities that already present in the first book), telling Diana to “behave like a woman of the times and just listen to him” etc. And it really sucks for Diana having to just sit back powerless while everyone around her is a man and casually dropping sexist comments like all women are bad and they don’t belong in universities. Honestly I hate this book so far and I thought I had found my new favorite series.


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