Book Review: ‘Shadow of Night’ by Deborah Harkness

Book Title: Shadow of Night

Author: Deborah Harkness

Genre: Fantasy

Summary: The second book in the All Souls trilogy. Diana and Matthew have travelled through time to Elizabethan London in an attempt to locate a teacher for Diana and to learn more about the mysterious book, Ashmole 782, that has set such events in motion. Secrets from Matthew’s past come to light and the politics of royal courts and their intrigues make for a place that is not as safe as they anticipated.

Favourite Scene: Some of the rich descriptions of Elizabethan London are exquisite. Worth reading just for some of the imagery.

Favourite Character: I found the representation of Christopher Marlowe particularly amusing.

Review: The book starts exactly where the first ended, so there’s a direct continuation – I anticipate the third will do the same. I enjoyed Shadow of Night far more than A Discovery of Witches, but that’s not to say I loved it. As with A Discovery of Witches, I didn’t love this book but I also didn’t hate it. Harkness evokes an intricate world with rambling descriptions and details, something I thoroughly enjoyed because of the Elizabethan setting. The setting and the descriptions of Elizabethan London were my favourite aspect of the novel, as the rest fell to the same criticisms I had of the first book: scenes that could have been culled, characters who were not sufficiently fleshed out, and the usual sneer I reserve for submissive females.

Representations of popular figures (artists, writers, scientists) from this time period were interesting – I do love reading different perspectives on what these “giants” might have been like as mere mortals, and while I found the presence of Marlowe amusing, I’m not sure I liked the whining wimp vision of him (how accurate this might be is entirely beyond my knowledge). The “intrigue” associated with secrets and subplots was not exciting or riveting; everything unfolded accordingly and I didn’t really have to think while reading the book, making it a perfect lazy-read. There is a hint for more emotional turmoil to come in the third book, and while I plan on getting my hands on it for a sense of closure, I’m not going to rush out on release day (whenever that may be).

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2 comments on “Book Review: ‘Shadow of Night’ by Deborah Harkness

  1. Couldn’t have said it any better, though I did enjoy Mathew’s association with his little man club. Also, the relationship between Diana and Mathew’s brothers was good for a few chuckles. Thanks for the review!

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