Sunday, December 9, 2012

Review: Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

Author:Deborah Harkness
Publisher: Viking Adult
Date of Publication: July 2012

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. 

 Shadow of Night was one of my most anticipated books  of 2012.  I absolutely loved the first book, A Discovery of Witches. (My review)  Unfortunately, I can't really say that about the sequel. Since I have mixed feelings about the book,  I'll break it down into what I liked and disliked.

What I liked: I did like the overall story.  The love story between Diana and Matthew was strengthened in this book.  We get to see their love grow deeper and they learn so much about each other.  We also finally get to see them consummate their marriage.

There are a few surprises about Diana and Matthew that were interesting.  The truth of Diana's powers should prove useful in the final book.  I also loved seeing how things they did in the past affected the future. Kind of like the butterfly effect.  The glimpses of the present time definitely elude to major events.  I wonder if we will see what transpired while Diana and Matthew were gone in the next book.  I don't want to say what these things are as they would definitely be major spoilers.

What I didn't like:  First, the book was LONG.  It comes in at about 22hours of audio time or 500+ pages.  While I don't normally mind long books, this one definitely dragged in places.  Matthew and Diana spend the entire book in the past.  I felt there were parts of the book that really did nothing to advance the story.  They go back in time for Diana to find a witch to teach her how to use her magic as well as look for the mysterious Ashmole 782.  Once they get there, it seemed to take forever for them to get to her magic lessons and to find the book. They also meet up with so many people, that it was hard at times to keep the characters straight.  Also, for a group of people who want to stay hidden from the humans, it seems a lot of people in the past know of their existence.

I don't recommend reading this one without first reading A Discovery of Witches.  It picks up right where the other left off. Any reader without the background of the first book would probably find themselves lost.  There is really no recap until well into the middle of the book.  It had been over a year since I read the first one and even I found myself having a hard time orienting myself to the story and characters at first.

So, I guess you could say I have so-so feeling about the book.  I'm hoping the last book captures magic of the first book.  The next one, an as yet unnamed book, comes out some time in 2013.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

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