What is it?
Shadow of Night is the riveting second installment in Deborah Harkness’s All Souls Trilogy. While A Discovery of Witches fit into the genre of urban fantasy, this sequel probably is best categorized as historical fantasy. Shadow of Night combines actual historical fact (in exacting detail) with magic and elements of the paranormal.
Who wrote it?
What did I like?
Historical fiction often has the downside of being too detailed, too heavy, too focused on settings and events and historical fact. Most historical fiction I read, I usually end up skimming because I just don’t find it that interesting. Shadow of Night isn’t that way. I started reading it, and I couldn’t put it down.
The majority of the book is set in Elizabethan England, which (admittedly) is an era I don’t know much about. Harkness has an amazing gift for weaving intense cultural detail into her writing without bogging it down.
Our heroes, Diana Bishop and Matthew Clairmont, find themselves in the past where they encounter all sorts of historical figures. Their own relationship continues to develop as well, and we learn more and more about Diana’s abilities as the truth about who and what she is becomes more and more obvious.
The dangers are greater. The threats are scarier. The stakes are higher than in the first book, and you just can’t stop reading because you want to find out what’s going to happen.
You laugh with them. You cry with them. You rejoice with them. And you sit on the edge of your seat waiting to see what Gallowglass is going to do next (because who doesn’t adore Gallowglass?).
What didn’t I like?
As much as I loved the historical detail, I will admit that at times it got to be a bit much. Not all the time. A few points dragged just slightly, mostly because I wanted to find out what would happen with certain relationships or events. But in the end, all the detail truly was necessary. And it adds so much to the story overall I’m totally willing to read it because I understand how important it is to the story.
Additionally, you should be aware that there are a few more “adult” situations in this book. As Diana and Matthew’s relationship grows, they become more intimate with each other. But in every instance, these encounters are handled with discretion and taste and truly represent what is beautiful in a marriage relationship.
Should you read it?Like with A Discovery of Witches, if you are sensitive to topics surrounding the occult, you might not like this book. There is even more material concerning the occult in this book than in its predecessor. That being said, I don’t anticipate that reading this book will entice you to go out and start practicing witchcraft.
What it may do is cause you to ask important questions about the relationships you have with people. How much do you really know about that person you’re dating? And how much of a sacrifice are you willing to make for him or her?
It’s a beautiful story, and it ends on a cliffhanger, very much like its predecessor did. So if you enjoyed the first book, you’ll love this one. And you won’t be able to wait for book number three!