"Together we lifted our feet and stepped into the unknown." (From the thrilling sequel to the New York Times best seller A Discovery of Witches)
Deborah Harkness exploded onto the literary scene with her debut novel, A Discovery of Witches, Book One of the magical All Souls Trilogy and an international publishing phenomenon. The novel introduced Diana Bishop, Oxford scholar and reluctant witch, and the handsome geneticist and vampire Matthew Clairmont; together they found themselves at the center of a supernatural battle over an enchanted manuscript known as Ashmole 782.
Now, picking up from A Discovery of Witches' cliff-hanger 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.
Deborah Harkness has crafted a gripping journey through a world of alchemy, time travel, and magical discoveries, delivering one of the most hotly anticipated novels of the season.
©2012 Deborah Harkness (P)2012 Penguin Audio
I have read and listened to “A Discovery of Witches” more than a dozen times over the past year. I waited for “Shadow of Night” like a child eagerly anticipates Christmas. In this new book, Deborah Harkness weaves a beautiful story as the main characters escape into the past. The new characters in the story are refreshing and endearing. Once again, Jennifer Ikeda does a marvelous performance of every character. Also, as a history major in college, I found the detailed information on the Elizabethan era of England interesting. With all of that said, I missed some the “magic” found in the first book. I felt the detailed historical information slowed the storyline. Matthew’s point of view is rarely provided. I missed the quick wit exchanges between characters, the faster pace to the storyline, and the peaks and valleys in the storyline of the first book. While I recommend the book and, once again, eagerly await the third volume, I am hoping that the full magic that Harkness has the ability to provide in her writing will be found in the next book.
avid audiobook listener, sociopath, nerd.
This is a beautifully written series so far. Deborah Harkness takes you right into the 16th century. The plot is complex but not confusing, and the narration is excellent. The variety of accents Jennifer Ikeda conveyed was impressive without being overly theatrical. This is a vivid, enchanting story. The array of personalities was engaging, each character seemed well thought out and had a depth that was really refreshing. If you liked the first book you will certainly enjoy this one.
To All My Favorite Narrators: You are the voices in my head...
The scene when Matthew and Diana are talking about how vampires are depicted in modern day romance novels. Hysterical! It's like she put that scene in just to stick it to all the readers whom complained about the lack of sex in the first book.
I can see why some people do not like this story. It's really not that suspenseful, there are no hot and heavy sex scenes every other chapter, and it's slooooooow.
Having said that, I still loved this book. These books are not nail biting page turners, and they are not vampire erotica hidden behind a plot. This story is a long, slow stroll down a road filled with beautiful scenery. Harness does a fantastic job of putting the reader in 16th century England, I found myself looking up many of her characters on Wikipedia just to get more background on them.
If you want a roller coaster experience, you will not like this book. Personally I loved the slow, lazy tide of the story.
The narrator was fantastic!
Whew; I liked this, but it took perseverance to get to *liking.* I don't just mean because of the 600 pages (24.5 hrs), and I'm not alone with my endurance problem -- even some of the professional critics confessed to wanting to skip ahead, jump over some of the fettering details. They justified their confessions by, in the end, giving Shadow of the Night a shining review. For me, that was the trick to *liking*...sticking it out to the end. I almost unplugged half-way through, which would have been regrettable. So, before you get discouraged by: the mass of characters (so many that the text book includes a glossary of characters), or the tediousness of tea and wine (Harkness at one time wrote a blog about wine), or the seemingly pointless conversations, the contrived events, and other minutiae of Elizabethan England...Hang in there.
When they say this one picks up where A Discovery of Witches left off -- they aren't kidding. If you have not recently read (or reviewed) the first book (D of W) you will probably be lost in a torrent you can't get out of. Diana the "reluctant witch," and Matthew the "vampire-scholar," continue their urgent quest for the ancient alchemical manuscript, Ashmole 782, which is said to contain critical secrets about the inhabitants of this book: vampires, witches and demons/daemons (tomato/tomahto - I googled it). The as-of-yet-unwed couple time travels (by way of Diana's limited witching abilities) to 1591 -- a troublesome landing spot -- Matthew is a devout catholic in Protestant England, and next door in Scotland they are burning witches. Diana, in and out of a yards of petticoats, stealthily searches for a much needed witch-tutor (Goody Alsop was great), while Matthew attends to one of his many secret roles; their actions constantly watched by dangerous cabals and covetous eyes. There are 3 sections to this book: Matt and Di's actions in 16th century England, France, and Prague, with a brief (and sudden) jump back to the 21st century at the end of their hunt in each location, to explain the impact of their actions (in the *past*) on the present. This little section also updates the present-time reactions of the Conventicle and the Congregation to either defend or thwart the couple's progress in finding Ashmole782.
The title refers to an actual 16th century poem by George Chapman that referrences the heretical The School of Night, and several prominent historical figures, William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, Sir Walter Raleigh, even Queen Elizabeth I (does Harkness hint at a royal relationship years earlier with Matthew?). Harkness, a professor of history at USC, uses her knowledge and writing skills to embellish the story with copious details and some clever alterations of some of the significant historical figures. Obviously a great amount of research and attention went into this book. Still, even appreciating the authentic rich scenes and the new presentation of history, the overreliance on details becomes very weighty, and some good editting would have easily helped keep the middle from dragging without cutting any of the story. As for plot...aside from some pretty hot vampire on witch action between shopping, lessons, and secret missions--there isn't much, which is understandable if you look at this book as setting the stage for the final installment (boy, it had better be phenomenal!). I especially enjoyed Matthew's father, Phillipe, and hope to read more about him, as well as SOME of the interesting characters introduced in this book.
They find Ashmole, (not a plot spoiler) no fanfare, still missing 3 pages. Some questions are answered, some vexing new ones presented. Matthew's personality is a little lost in the past, but Diana's is expanded; the couple becomes more joined. The tension between the witches and vampires builds. All in all a great set-up. Jennifer Ikeda does a noteworthy job of reading so many accents and characters. She was clearly familiar with the characters and story, and gave an enjoyable, sophisticated performance. If you have read that this is "Harry Potter for adults," or a "grown-up version of Twilight," toss those epithets aside; there is much more here than comparisons. On it's own, Shadow of the Night is intelligently written adult fare. In an interview, author Deborah Harkness stated, "There are a lot of adults reading YA books, and for good reason...I wanted to give adult readers a world no less magical, no less surprising and delightful, but one that included grown-up concerns and activities. These are not your children's vampires and witches." If you liked Discovery of Witches, if you can appreciate carefully setting up the final act--you'll like this. In hind-sight, after the final book is released and so many details justified or explained, I'll probably like it even more, but since I can't time travel back and change my rating, I'll stick with a glowing 3* for now and hope for 5* with a fantastic conclusion of the All Souls Trilogy.
I absolutely loved the scenes of unexpected meetings with family members. I was so happy Diana had the opportunity to meet Phillippe. I also loved meeting the various famous people from the 16th century such as Kit Marlowe and Queen Elizabeth. Deborah Harkness did a fabulous job bringing them to life!
My favorite character is Diana (no surprise there). I love the way she always wins over Matthew's family & friends despite their prejudices. She inspires fierce loyalty in the people she brings into her circle.
I highly recommend this series. Diana and Matthew's story is one of the most unique I've read in a long time. If you love Diana Gabaldon you will love this series as well.
When I clean, drive or exercise I listen to romance. The steamier the better but it must have a great story as well!
I have been waiting for this book to be released ever since I'd read the Discovery of Witches. I was concerned, needlessly, over whether it would be as good as the first book. It was amazing! This series has a slow and methodical rhythm, similar to that of the Outlander series. I love each of the new characters Deborah introduces and the roles they play in the book. However, I was a little disappointed that the love scenes weren't very detailed, others may find that the fact this book contains no smut enjoyable. This is definitely a "pg" rated book. I don't want to ruin the story by giving details for those that are deciding to whether or not to purchase it. I will say that I love the story, flow, description and overall feel this book gives. Mystery, magic and the comfort of steady relationships give this book wonderful structure. Now I wonder how long I'll have to wait for the 3rd in the series. ;)
This book seemed a bit slow getting started, but once it did, it took off. I love the alchemical references, the intricate and believable characters, the historical settings... My only complaint is that the main character, Diana, seemed to have times when she was believable and other times when she'd seem to have a wild mood swing and be someone else entirely. I'm not sure if this is something that plays out in the story eventually and it's deliberate, or it's because the author didn't have a good feel of how her main character would act in a certain situation. Overall, though, I highly highly recommend this book. It's incredible, and the narrator was absolutely perfect for this book (seriously, her 'voices' are amazing, and her pronunciation mostly spot-on). I look forward to the other 2 books in the series by this author and this narrator.
Absolutely, yes! The subject of magic occurs in more than just the plot, the author casts a wonderful spell in telling this tale of an intellectual professor who tries to deny her gifts and a mysterious research professor who convinces her to acknowledge them while they both plow through ages of adventure in search of a book...
I liked the way this story was spun the most, and that it's author appears to acknowledge that her readers really can deal with an intellectual heroine.
Phillipe's visit to the grove with Diana...
I am reading this book in hard cover and will be listening to my audible version right after because I pick up things I hear in the audible version I missed in the written book and vice versa. The two together make for a fuller experience of the story.
Yes. Awesome story, great reader. Starts a little slow, but then you can't stop. Best audiobook reader I have found - and I have listend to about 300 books in the last few years. She can do both male and female characters, which is a rare talent. She is amazing at accents. She is very good at inflection and emotion.
The idea of time travel and the anomalies that occur in the present as a result of their visit to the past.
Gallowglass was awesome, I love the mental image I got of the character based on how the reader performed his dialogue. The only voice I didn't like was Rudolph, but then his character was supposed to be unlikeable.
Laughed at several points, witty dialogue. Cried when it was over, thinking how long I'm going to have to wait for the third book in the trilogy.
Can't say enough good things about it. Really loved it.
I ignore genre labels. Some of my favorite books are outside my genre comfort zone. Listening to audiobooks is still reading. Not theater.
I was reluctant to read A Discovery of Witches. I am kind of "witched" out, I think. I have never found them as interesting as other fictional non-human staples. There were parts of that book I found fairly dull and a few times I had to convince myself to keep reading. Parts of it really dragged.
But after I finished the book I found myself thinking about it frequently. My thoughts were more about the questions and issues raised and the developing mystery than they were of the characters, who didn't seem to click. But the further I moved from the finish of the book the more I decided I enjoyed it. A lot. I found myself recommending it to others and then stopping and asking myself if I'd really meant to do that. I found that I did. The book just grew on me.
I finished Shadow of Night about a week ago. I had the same experience. There were parts that really slowed the pace of the entire book down. Parts I wanted to skim through or skip entirely. But a week out, I have to say I enjoyed this book, rather a lot. And I will recommend it to others.
Again, it wasn't the characters that drew me. I still don't think the connection between the two main characters seems particularly strong. And I was disappointed that many of the historical characters weren't developed more fully. However, just as in the first book my favorite character was Matthew's mother, in this book it was his father Phillipe. He is worth a book or ten.
But the ideas touched upon, the questions that drove the book and the characters forward were fascinating to me. And the more I thought about them, the more interesting they have become. I believe I have to admit that, if I am thinking about a book a week after I read it and I find myself liking it more the more I think about it, even if I cannot explain what I liked about it, then it meets my definition of a good book.
I will read the next in the series. By now my expectation is I still won't have sympathy or empathy for the characters. But I will think about it for a long time after.
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