Shadow of Night (All Souls Series #2) by Deborah Harkness
Publisher/Year: Penguin Books, 2012
A Discovery of Witches introduced Diana Bishop, Oxford scholar and reluctant witch, and vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont. Drawn to each other despite long-standing taboos, these two other-worldly beings found themselves at the center of a battle for a lost, enchanted manuscript known as Ashmole 782.
Book two of the All Souls trilogy plunges Diana and Matthew into Elizabethan London, a world of spies and subterfuge, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the mysterious School of Night. The pair’s mission is to find traces of Ashmole 782, but as the net of Matthew’s past tightens around them they embark on a very different–and vastly more dangerous–journey.
What I thought
This is definitely something unusual for me to say, but I think this is a case where I actually enjoyed the sequel much more than the first book. I mean, she only ate eggs and toast once, for starters–yes, I counted. But seriously, there was much more that I enjoyed about the story this time around. I won’t go into too much detail–I like to keep it kind of short and sweet when it comes to reviewing sequels. This time around, my only complaint seems to be one that I’ve had since starting this trilogy–I have a rough time jiving with Harkness’s writing style. There just seems to be this disjointedness to the plot where something would happen, and I’d skim back a page or two, convinced I had somehow missed something. Or I’d spend so much time trying to analyze some plot point for it to turn out to have absolutely no bearing on the story. Considering the writing style and my disconnect, I really think it’s just me or the timing of my read. Plenty of people love these books. And I really did love so much about this installment. I loved everything about their trip to Elizabethan London–from the various members of the School of Night to Diana’s witchy lessons to their detour to Sept Tours. Again, I’m being intentionally vague here. I will say that I’m actually quite sad that they had to go back to the present and leave this cast of characters behind. I’m definitely ready to dive into the next book after that absolutely abrupt cliffhanger at the end.
As a whole, I enjoyed Shadow of Night much more than I did A Discovery of Witches. In reading some reviews on here, it seems like this is a pretty polarizing set of books. And even though I enjoyed book #2 more than book #1, I still wouldn’t say I love these books, at least on this, my first read through. I’d say if these books sound like they’re up your alley, maybe borrow them from a friend or the library.