Review: Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy #2) ~ Deborah Harkness

ShadowIT BEGAN WITH A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES.

Historian Diana Bishop, descended from a line of powerful witches, and long-lived vampire Matthew Clairmont have broken the laws dividing creatures. When Diana discovered a significant alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library,she sparked a struggle in which she became bound to Matthew. Now the fragile 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.

2 Thumbs-UpAfter devouring A Discovery of Witches by this Author, I spent a long time waiting for the sequel… why did I bother.  For those of you who may be thinking of picking this up to read as a standalone book, I would strongly advise against it, as you will be even more confused at the end of this tome than you were at the beginning.

As far as the characters in this book are concerned, so much more could have been done with the slew of new ones that were introduced, but I will get back to that in a moment.  The two main protagonists are still the same pair the reader encountered in the first book in this series, and we pick up with them exactly where the previous book left them.  As to their development within this novel’s pages, it is sorely lacking and has a tendency to take any likability they invoked in the first book away from them in this.  In fact they come across as being rather flat and one-dimensional.  As with most books that feature actual historical characters, there is a myriad of resources available to the Author to build their characters upon, unfortunately this was not the case here and I felt the Author left it up to the reader’s knowledge of these persons to create their back-story. This left the characters, from a fictional point of view, being people I really didn’t care about or want to know better.  The dialogue between the characters is between the characters is bland and, at times, there is far too much of it which results in the storyline becoming bogged down and boring.

The Authors biggest downfall, in my opinion, was the depth in which she outlined the political intrigue of the time period of the novel.  It was apparent from this that they had done an extensive amount of research, but by including so much of it in this fictional piece of work I found myself drifting to other things and feeling as if I were reading a very dry and dusty history text-book.  Another irritant for me, and one of a multitude that led to the rating this book was given, was the flippant way in which the Author treated time travel; there was none of the tact or explanatory pieces that appear in works by Diana Gabaldon, or the humour used by Connie Willis to help the reader navigate around these segments of their work.

I’m hesitant to recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed the first in the series, and doubt very much that I will be reading the conclusion.

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