Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy #2) by Deborah Harkness

Book Review Aug 03, 2021

My review

4/5 stars

I really enjoyed listening to A Discovery of Witches on audiobook earlier in the year, so I've decided to stick with the same format for the rest of the series, and I'm glad I have. Listening to Shadow Of Night over the past couple of weeks has been an immersive experience and easy to follow. Similar to the first book, the narrator made a really good effort at distinguishing between characters with different accents and infusing the book with the right emotions at the right times.

The new Tudor setting gave the author a chance to explore a whole other world from a magical point of view, and she did it well. Some famous historical figures were cleverly included in Matthew and Diana's new world, such as Kit Marlowe, Henry Percy and Queen Elizabeth I herself. Using Diana's viewpoint as a vessel to explore all of this was a brilliant move, as she reacted as I expect I myself would have reacted if put in the same position - with awe and excitment, and more than a hint of trepidation.

As well as historical figures, we were also treated to a wealth of other new characters in Elizabethan times. My favourites were Matthew's father, Phillipe, his nephew, Gallowglass, and Diana's magic tutor, Goody Alsop. Phillipe was a wonderful mix of intimidating and protection; his addition to the story allowed a less dominant side of Matthew to show through. Gallowglass added a much needed touch of humour to the plot with his somewhat flippant observations, and also provided some positive familial familiarity. Goody Alsop and her all-knowing authority bought a sense of calm to an otherwise busy plot.

Matthew and Diana both evolved nicely as part of this next installation. Matthew's trip back to a world he had previously inhabited, where a different set of expectations were placed on him, meant we got a darker, broodier and more secretive version of him. It was interesting to see the impact that this change had on his relationship with Diana, given that I sometimes struggled with how soft they were with each other in the first book. The strain from Matthew gave Diana a chance to step up and become the pillar of strength in their relationship; she herself became more protective, nurturing and courageous. I also really enjoyed watching her explore her magic and the control she had over it, rather than just letting it happen to her.

The pace in this part of the story was definitely an improvement from the first book, as Matthew and Diana travelled across the Elizabethan continent dealing with family drama and searching for Ashmole 782. Despite all this increased action, the author still managed to include a lot of opportunity for detail and depth that made these new environments feel complete and fully engaging. My only issue was that the transitions between places felt a little disjointed and took a few "pages" to readjust to.

I'm now in a place where I'm up to date with the TV series that introduced me to these books in the first place. I feel that the TV series has been fairly loyal to it's source material and have enjoyed the extra detail that the books have afforded. I'm excited to move into Book 3 (The Book Of Life), as it is completely new material to me and the culmination of a detailed story that I've become pretty engrossed in - look out for the review soon!

Book blurb

In a world of witches, daemons and vampires the fragile balance of peace is unravelling. Diana and Matthew's forbidden love has broken the laws dividing creatures. To discover the manuscript which holds their hope for the future, they must now travel back to the past.

When Diana Bishop, descended from a line of powerful witches, discovered a significant alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library, she sparked a struggle in which she became bound to long-lived vampire Matthew Clairmont. Now the coexistence of witches, daemons, vampires and humans is dangerously threatened.
Seeking safety, Diana and Matthew travel back in time to London, 1590. But they soon realise that the past may not provide a haven. Reclaiming his former identity as poet and spy for Queen Elizabeth, the vampire falls back in with a group of radicals known as the School of Night. Many are unruly daemons, the creative minds of the age, including playwright Christopher Marlowe and mathematician Thomas Harriot.

Together Matthew and Diana scour Tudor London for the elusive manuscript Ashmole 782, and search for the witch who will teach Diana how to control her remarkable powers...


You can buy the book here now. It was published by Headline.

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