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Literary Friday: Shadow of Night

Friday, June 15, 2012


This week I read Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness, and that is about all I've done.  My family has not starved at least, but I found the book so engrossing I could hardly put it down.  I have not been in the studio painting since Monday!  This is the second book in Harkness's All Souls trilogy, and it is one of the best books I have ever read.  I was not expecting to like it as well as A Discovery of Witches because of Hamish's warning to Diana about how Matthew "will not be the same" when they go back in time.  This warning made me dread reading it, actually.   A Discovery of Witches made my Best Books of 2011 list, and you can read my post about it here.

A Brief Recap of A Discovery of Witches

Professor and scholar Diana Bishop retrieves an ancient enchanted book catalogued as Ashmole 782 at Oxford's Bodleian Library.  No creature has see the book in many years, and Diana's feat has drawn the attention of many powerful witches, daemons, and vampires. Ironically, Diana has denied her witch's heritage and rejects the use of magic in her daily life, so her success in calling Ashmole 782 has most witches stymied.  One of Oxford's most esteemed geneticists {and vampires} Dr. Matthew Clairmont falls in love with Diana at first sight upon seeing her in the Bodleian.  Their relationship will break the Congregation's ancient covenant forbidding the intermingling between creatures.  Diana Bishop is in trouble!

It began with absence and desire.
It began with blood and fear.
It began with a discovery of witches.

This is handwritten on the first page of Ashmole 782.  The meaning is explained in Shadow of Night.

In Shadow of Night, Diana and Matthew travel back to Elizabethan England to find Ashmole 782.  Diana is stunned to learn that Matthew is a member of the famous School of Night, a group of artists and intellectuals whose members include Sir Walter Raleigh and a selfish, unstable daemon named Christopher Marlowe.  Diana and Matthew's search takes them from Oxford to London, Sept-Tours, and Prague.  The intrigues of the Tudor and Hapsburg courts are some of my favorite scenes in the book.  Luckily for us readers Deborah Harkness is a historian, and I enjoyed reading the history she included in the book.

*****Spoilers Ahead!*****

I try not to include spoilers in my Literary Friday posts, but I could not help myself this time.  Come back and read the rest of this post once you have read the book!

Many questions are answered about Diana's powers and Matthew's secrets. I could not stand Christopher Marlowe (called Kit in the book),  and "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love" will never quite sound the same to me.  ;P We also get to meet Diana's father, Stephen Proctor. I bet you are dying to know whether or not Diana and Matthew consummate their marriage...LOL....

What I loved about Shadow of Night:

1.   I loved the scenes at Sept-Tours with Matthew's father, Philippe.  I truly love Philippe's character so much, and I really would like to know more about him.  

2.   Matthew and Diana were married for a third time at Sept-Tours, and Philippe's role in their wedding is a fun part of the story.

3.   I also like Matthew's nephew, Gallowglass.  He is a Scottish vampire with a heart of gold. But those of you who know me understand my love for all things Scottish, so I am sure you aren't surprised.

4.   Matthew is wearing hose for most of the book....enough said.

5.   Harkness in her brilliance has included a cast of characters at the back of the book which was very helpful because there are so many characters!

What I hated about Shadow of Night:

1.   Christopher.  Marlowe.   Hate him.  I do not for the life of me understand how Diana refrains from going berserk on him.  Seriously.

2.   Diana does not ask Mary Sidney, the Countess of Pembroke, questions about the prophetic mural in her lab.  Diana is supposed to be a historian who asks questions.  Why, Diana?  WHY didn't you ask her the origin/artist of the mural?   :/

3.   It bothers me a little that Matthew is actually Matthew Roydan in the sixteenth century, a real person from history.  I love Matthew Clairmont's faith, it is one of the things I like most about him, so it seems that Roydan is an odd choice as one of Matthew's identities.  Unlike many of the other members of the School of Night, I had not heard of him, so I did a little research on him.  I would also love to read many of the scenes from Matthew's point of view (especially the nights he is out with Kit, and what he is thinking about Diana as her magic is becoming more understood).  

Predictions for Book Three:

1.   I predict an all-out war between Marcus's Conventicle and the Congregation.

2.   I do not think that we have heard the last from Jack, or at least I hope that we haven't.  Jack is the street urchin Matthew and Diana take into their Blackfriars home.

3.   I think that Father Hubbard (Vampire King of London) will save Diana's life at some point.

4.   Hamish will become involved in human politics (too bad he isn't American and can't help turn around our economy).  ;P

5.   Ysabeau will find joy and happiness.

Most of these are actually wishes than predictions, LOL!  Shadow of Night will be released on July 10th.  I hope you have already preordered it!  I read an advanced reader's copy.

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill


  1. Oh I can't wait! I refused to read beyond your spoilers warning though. :)

  2. Ditto what Gina said! And it will be a month before I can read the book or the review.
    It's killing me...
    Carole (Stapes)

  3. I just read the first little bit. Hooked!! Will be putting this on my to read list =) Thanks for sharing!!

  4. If I can ever get through the pile of books accumulating here, perhaps I will venture into this series. Right now I am reading a memoir called How to lose friends and alienate people! Lol

  5. Hi Ricki, your reading list sounds very interesting. I am ashamed to admit that I haven't had time to read in quite a while. I used to be an avid reader but I seem to have gotten out of the habit since blogging. Thanks for the comment about the party. I think it will be fun if a lot of people participate. I really appreciate your interest and helping me promote it. -------------- Shannon

  6. OooO.....I can't wait! I have to read the first book, though. I think my mom will like these, too. Thanks for the review! :D

  7. Hi RJ! Oh, I haven't read this but it just may be my next book! You're changed your profile snap too and it's beautiful1
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

  8. I have not read this but i will now!!

  9. I liked Discovery of Witches just fine, but was not sure that I wanted to read the second installment. Now, I'm really intrigued. Thanks for the detailed review. I haven't read it all - I think I will wait until after I've read the book!

  10. Hi Ricki Jill, that sounds like a great book. I really should read more. Thanks for visiting me and leaving such a sweet comment.

  11. I saw you list this book last week in your happy things post and it caught my eye. I went and put the first book on my Wish List and didn't read the write up since you said there were spoilers. Looking forward to reading it.

    I read the Queens Fool and didn't like it as much as some of her other books (but can't for the life of me remember why) my favorites by her are The Other Boleyn Girl and the Boleyn Inheritance (which I listened to on audio). Let me know what you think of The Other Queen when you get to it. I am off to listen to Cold Mountain whiel I work and I just started reading The Mists of Avalon (eap!)

    Have a Great week!


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I'm Ricki Jill. Welcome! I'm honored that you're reading my blog. I enjoy sharing my creative lifestyle @ The Bookish Dilettante. For more information about my blog, please read the Start Here page. Thank-you for stopping by, and I hope you'll consider following me via email.


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