Review: “Shadow of Night (All Souls #2)” by Deborah Harkness


Title: “Shadow of Night (All Souls #2)”

Author: Deborah Harkness

Genre: Adult, Paranormal, Romance, Historical Fiction

Publication Date: July 10, 2012 (North America – Viking/Penguin)

Source: NetGalley review copy

Summary: 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’ 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.

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.

☆: 2/5 – would have been an excellent second installment in the “All Souls” trilogy had it not been stuffed so full of filler.

Review: As much as I adore Harkness’ style and story, this second volume in the “All Souls” trilogy was just so full of filler that by page 200, I was throwing my hands up in frustration. While “Shadow of Night” is gorgeously written and intricately crafted, the main message got lost in all of the details.

In “Shadow of Night”, we immediately pick up from the end of “Discovery of Witches” and travel to a wonderful new place and time and meet some of history’s greats and watch them interact with our heroes. While all of these intricate details of Tudor England come to brilliant life on the page, it feels like Harkness kind of lost sight of everything with needing to give us exact details about all of these new characters and locales before getting to the main plot of the book (getting Diana a teacher to control her powers and finding Ashmole 782). Some of the main plot is touched very briefly on while Harkness paints the backdrop of Diana and Matthrew’s new reality – that’s it, it’s only very briefly before getting lost again in these new characters and sub-plots.

There’s such a thing of having a world too big for the page. Harkness is ridiculously talented at worldbuilding and crafting sub-plots within sub-plots while making it all work with the main plot, she unfortunately kind of let her world get too big for the page with all of the tales within tales she’s spun within “Shadow of Night”. I feel like this book needed at least one or two more editorial passes just to organize the first third of the book because it felt so stuffed full of filler I could barely navigate these sub-plots that were trying to connect to the main plot.

However, what I did love was the life that breathed into Christopher Marlowe and the rest of the School of Night, and the spy sub-plot, and all of that. I just wish it had connected a little cleaner and easier to the main plot.

Final verdict? Those who loved “Discovery of Witches” will also probably love this one – but be sure you have a LOT of time and patience on board it’s going to take awhile to read and get through. “Shadow of Night” is out now through Penguin in North America, so be sure to check it out!

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5 thoughts on “Review: “Shadow of Night (All Souls #2)” by Deborah Harkness

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