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July 15, 2014

Rerun: Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

Series: All Souls Trilogy 2
Format: ARC (NetGalley)
Excerpt here
Release Date: July 10, 2012
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Now, picking up from A Discovery of Witches’ cliffhanger ending, Shadow of Night plunges Diana and Matthew into Elizabethan London, a world of spies, subterfuge, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the mysterious School of Night that includes Christopher Marlowe and Walter Raleigh. Here, Diana must locate a witch to tutor her in magic, Matthew is forced to confront a past he thought he had put to rest, and the mystery of Ashmole 782 deepens.




This review was originally posted 2012. Republishing this to honor the release of the final book in the trilogy, The Book of Life, which I'm still reading.






When I first came across Discovery of Witches BTS (Before Talk Supe) I coveted the book mainly because of the cover and all the rave reviews I've read pertaining to Deborah Harkness' debut novel. As for the story, I liked it enough but it was challenging to read because of the length and the pace. DHarkness took her time in building Diana and Matthew's world, she was meticulous in her descriptions whether it's a place, a feeling or even the weather, leaving almost nothing to the imagination. However I didn't find it boring either, rather it felt more of a scholarly story to me because DHarkness really meshed her lore well with historical fact plus both Diana and Matthew are professors so you know there'll be bouts of trivial lecture somewhere.

SHADOW OF NIGHT is as daunting as it's predecessor, at 584 pages the story is filled with remarkable descriptions and facts about Elizabethan London. Famous historical figures join Matthew and Diana's journey like William Shakespeare and the detestable Christopher Marlowe. Again DHarkness didn't disappoint in making her version of 16th century England as factual as can be with a mist of supernatural creatures loitering the streets of London to make it exciting.
"Nonsense. Marrying amid bloodshed is a de Clermont family tradition. Phillipe said briskly. "We only seem to mate creatures who are desired by others."
DHarkness gleaned on the romance between Matthew and Diana, concentrating more on coupling historical tidbits with her alternative London. Some of you might disagree with me on this but I felt there were too many fillers in SHADOW OF NIGHT that I could do without. For example, chapter 7 was about present day Rima Jaen who, I am assuming, found Diana's journal and with her boss, they both considered the manuscript trash and never heard from them again. This chapter had no bearing to the totality of the story and an addition they could have edited out.
Mark me well, Diana: Lives will be lost because of your love for my son. Some will sacrifice themselves. Others will die because someone must, and it will be for you to decide if it is you or them or someone you love. - Phillipe
The core of SHADOW OF NIGHT was exciting and the story DHarkness is telling is truly wonderful. Matthew and Diana's forbidden romance provides all the dramatic trappings one expects from a typical PNR and all the opposing forces and insistent nay saying is enough for me to root for them. The historical background was accurate and even the liberties she took with Queen Elizabeth, Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare were plausible once you remove the supernatural aspects. I love how authentic her details are like people's hygiene at that time down to the proper grip and handling of a quill for a more efficient way to write. She laid it like it is and probably romanticized some things to blunt the edges of how polluted and dangerous London was during this time.

But it's all these extra trimmings and frills that provided great distractions for me to get entranced by the story. The excessive details on things, like Diana's wedding dress for one, took its toll on me that halfway through I feel DHarkenss just gets a kick from reading her pretty words and carefully written prose. Towards the end reading SHADOW OF NIGHT felt more like a chore to me than an enjoyable past time.

On the flip side, since Discovery of Witches is being turned into a movie, I am sure I will fully appreciate and LOVE all the visuals the movie will provide because DHarkness spared no detail in painting her world in accurate detail. Now THAT is a movie adaptation I want to see soon.


P.S. Since this review was published last year, it's been reported that the movie deal fell through. Sad to hear that but hopefully with the series' continued success, someone will take interest and bring this either to a theater near us or the boob tube.





35 comments:

  1. I actually really enjoyed reading all the descriptions - it's a bit different from other novels these days. I'd have to disagree about it leaving little to the imagination though as I'm still having a hard time imagining all the accroutement of 16th C. LOL

    And OMG!! I can't wait to see the casting!

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    1. Glad you appreciated it better than I did. I loved how she portrayed Marlowe, very Faustus

      I think I will Love the movie more than the book.

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  2. The length of the first book scares me so I avoid reading it, I find too many details to be tedious to read and I'm not a huge fan of historical fiction so I think I might get bored midway. I didn't know it was being turned into a movie, I'm excited to see it.

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    1. I am excited for the movie, no disrespect to DHarkness but I think I'll be able to appreciate it more than the book. Her descriptions are so rich the screenwriter and props man got it easy on that aspect.

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  3. This is one of my most favorite trilogies but it is long and filled with lots of information and description so I can see how they wouldn't' be for everyone. Having said that though, I am so relieved you liked this even if you didn't fall in love with it. :)

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    1. I think it also had something to do with "popular fiction" meaning it's contemporaries are fast paced and highly sexed up and this isn't exactly opposite but took on the classic route if you know what I mean.

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  4. Thanks for sharing this review, Braine. I have yet to read #1 and it's been sitting on my shelf since it released. :( But I'll get to it. I do understand what you're saying about too many details being distracting but I'm glad you enjoyed the story anyway. I can't wait to see what you think of The Book of Life. :)

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    1. Kindlemom just made a good point in her review: This series needs to be savored so if you're planning to start this, make sure that you allot a LOT of time for it.

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  5. the length and pace are very issues that make or break a book for me, but glad to hear that you enjoyed despite those

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    1. I have a feeling I might benefit from a reread...

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  7. I'm looking forward to the final book in this series. I'd have to say, I enjoyed this one a little more than you did, but I totally get you. I remember listening to Gabriel's Inferno and thinking the same thing..I felt as if the author loved to hear himself write..LOL So yes, I understand your feelings :)

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    1. Exactly! Well she's a professor in real life so it's not hard to believe that she can have a tendency to declaim or orate LOL

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  8. I do want to try book 1 one day

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    1. I think you will like it based on the books that you feature on your blog.

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  9. I loved going back and even liked the present day threads, that allowed us to see the impact and believe it or not some of those tie in with book three.While you didn't love it I am glad you enjoyed aspects of it.

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    1. I'm reserving book 3 for the weekend, that baby demands the utmost attention.

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  10. I love that you do refresh us. Can't wait to start reading book 3 :D

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    1. I know how excited you are for Book 3!

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  11. Whew those are some lengthy reads! I've got book one on my tbr pile for one day. They sound like ones I'd enjoy but would just need to be in the right frame of mind for.

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    1. That's true! This series isn't something you'll speed read

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  12. I read the first one but didn't continue. I enjoyed it but it didn't wow me. I do kind of want to know what happens though so I'll probably come back to it at some point.

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    1. You and I are on the same page. I'm hoping book 3 will finally WOW me

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  13. WOW being made into a movie. That is awesome. I think I shall watch as movie first then embark on this book I think. I have some pretty monster sized bricks to read at the moment.

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    1. Shit! I forgot to edit that, the movie deal went kaput

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  14. I've heard that this series is slow and big, so I feel your pain there. I agree that it sounds like it'll make a great movie. Thanks for the review, Braine!

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  15. I really liked the first book, so I got this one but haven't read it yet. The length kind of scares me off, but I do like the characters.

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    1. Yeah, the length is intimidating especially when it's heavy on details.

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  16. I've heard so much praise for this book in the last few years and i know a love of people consider this one to be amongst their favourites! I have to admit I don't know if it's necessarily for me, and i can see this one wasn't an absolute favourite of yours but i'm debating still whether or not to read it!

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    1. It's paranormal lit fiction. So it can be a classic in a few decades, it's certainly not "pop fiction" if you know what I mean so I'd understand if you won't like it

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  17. Yeah . . . these books can be distract you will of the superfluous info . . . but I still really liked it. I was set to start my reread of this one any day, but then I got a wild hair and decided to reread Kate Daniels AGAIN. I regret nothing ;) Anyway, I'm excited about the movie too, and I hope you like The Book of Life more than book 2 . . . if you read it, that is . . .

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    1. I started it but will put it off for the weekend. It needs my utmost attention.

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  18. Love this series as well! :) One of my favorite series, hope you enjoy the Book of Life.

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