Book Review: Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

In A Discovery of Witches, we met historian/witch, Diana Bishop, and scientist/vampire, Matthew de Clermont. Diana turned her back on her magical roots, until she came across a mysterious alchemical manuscript, Ashmole 782, while performing research in the library. Diana knew at once that the manuscript was more than it seemed, otherworldly creatures - vampires, witches, and daemons - begin to swarm into her life to obtain this manuscript, which may hold the secret to their creation.

Diana attempts to recall Ashmole 782 to understand its secrets; however, it vanished from the library catalogue. Matthew was drawn to the mystery of Ashmole 782, yet enthralled by Diana. Diana and Matthew fall in love, which, of course, is strictly forbidden by the Congregation, a group of otherworldly creatures, which govern the magical community. When the non-human community became increasingly aggressive and hostile towards Matthew and Diana, they decided to time step into the past in order to have respite from the Congregation as well as to obtain proper training for Diana and to locate Ashmole 782 in its own time.

 When we rejoined Diana and Matthew, in Shadow of Night - the second book of the All Souls Trilogy, they have arrived in Elizabethan England, a former home of Matthew. Diana does not blend in well and allegations of witchcraft along with a request from Matthew's father takes them out of England to the family home, Sept Tours. As their time in Sept Tours comes to an end Diana must master her craft and obtain Ashmole 782 before their time in the past runs out.

This story was very slow at first and the introduction of historical persons as characters in the book was kitschy. My interest was caught in the trip to Sept Tours and kept throughout the book due to my interest in Elizabethan England. However, I can't help but feel that not much really happened in 600 pages.  The main substance of the book was the development of a marriage between Matthew and Diana, as well as the many issues that come along in a new marriage. While, friends and family of the present are preparing for a battle against the Congregation, it is not until the end of the novel that Matthew and Diana feel a sense of urgency to prepare.

I would have a difficult time recommending this book. It does have a Twilight feel, but only very slightly. The characters are well developed and multi-faceted. I enjoy the historical aspects of this novel as well as the fun, fantasy aspects. I am very eager to read the conclusion of the All Souls Trilogy – no date has been set for the release of the final book.