December 9, 2015

All Souls Review - Part 2: Shadow of Night

Shadow of Night 
All Souls Trilogy, Book 2
Deborah Harkness

Published: 2012

Headline, Trade,

In a world of witches, daemons and vampires the fragile balance of peace is unravelling. Diana and Matthew's forbidden love has broken the laws dividing creatures. To discover the manuscript which holds their hope for the future, they must now travel back to the past. When Diana Bishop, descended from a line of powerful witches, discovered a significant alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library, she sparked a struggle in which she became bound to long-lived vampire Matthew Clairmont. 

Now the 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...

My Thoughts...


As with ADoW, I loved the first copy of SoN I read.  When it too got the same redesign treatment - going from the lovely purple eclipse (I think that's what it is?) to a red background with black smoke deal - I, once again, was not too happy.  Although I didn't think SoN matched ADoW in style, I think the harsh red cover does not represent anything to do with the story.  But the US editions are amazing.  I love the use of alchemical and astrological symbols as well as the colours.  So pretty.

World building

In SoN, when we find ourselves following Diana and Matthew back to Tudor London, I can imagine the buildings, the sunlight coming down through the warped window panes as Diana writes attempts to write in her journal.  The hustle and bustle of the busy Blackfriars, and imagined the snow covered journey to Sept-Tour (no snow where I live!).  Harkness is adept in giving you just enough details to let your imagination take flight, but never to the point that you are oversaturated with information.


SoN continues on directly from where we last saw Diana and Matthew, and now that they are safely, for now, in the past, we now have a book that not only includes different time periods as we switch between the past and the present, but we also start to follow the story from different characters POVs that deal with the changes wrought by Diana and Matthew as they live in Elizabethan London.  While not super complex, you do have to pay attention. 


As with ADoW, we follow the same handful of characters in split timelines.  As we follow Diana and Matthew back to the Elizabethan period, we meet a whole new cast of characters.  I particularly love Gallowglass and Philippe.  Christopher (Kit) Marlowe is another story however.  He is singularly the character that I most disliked out of this sojourn back in time, and I think he got off lightly when Diana trapped him and Louisa together (I think Matthew had the right idea!).

The reason I love this book - even more than ADoW - is because we get to discover more about Matthew.  His past, his motives, his desires, and especially once he begins interacting with Philippe and his cronies from 1590.  It added more complexity to his relationship with Diana, as well as explained a few questions regarding his actions that I had had in book 1.

Back in the present, I enjoyed reading about Ysabeau the most, and especially the scene where she is tearing apart the library in Sept Tour, desperately trying to find a note from Philippe, and she has to catch a certain feline to get it ;-D

Conclusion & Recommendations

If you can not tell by now, I love this book.  It is my favourite out of the three, and I think that is mostly because of the historical aspect, and the introduction of Philippe as a character and not just an unknown - and often quoted - entity.  Adding other notable figures from history, such as Shakespeare, Marlowe, the School of Night, Elizabeth I, etc., was just icing on an already scrumptious cake.

Do yourself a favour and go buy, borrow, download, or listen to this trilogy.  It is amazing, and the recent news that a new book from Matthew's POV is being written is just another reason to go and dive into the world of absence and desire.

Until next time, my fellow All Soul's fans,

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