Shadow of Night
Written by Deborah Harkness
Published in July 2012 by Viking
Picking up from A Discovery of Witches’ cliffhanger ending, Shadow of Night takes Diana and Matthew on a trip through time to Elizabethan London, where they are plunged into a world of spies, magic, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the School of Night. As the search for Ashmole 782 deepens and Diana seeks out a witch to tutor her in magic, the net of Matthew’s past tightens around them, and they embark on a very different—and vastly more dangerous—journey.
In Shadow of Night, Deborah Harkness weaves a magical tale of history, discovery and redemption. It is beautiful to behold. She continues with the story of Diana and Matthew which takes them on a tumultuous journey of pain and self-discovery. I felt this was Matthew’s book where A Discovery of Witches was Diana’s. Ms. Harkness gave us some great insight on who Matthew was, is and will be all while Diana tries to develop her magical powers. They are taking separate journeys but in the end they come together as one.
Matthew is an extremely secretive and dark character. His past life is filled with tremendous pain and suffering. By going back in time, he has to face his past demons and not let those demons destroy him. He must come to terms with the death of his father, wife and son and deal with his guilt over each. He receives forgiveness and acceptance from, to him, unexpected places. During his journey, Diana is ever present at his side. She can now fully understand him and accept him as he is. Their love story is written beautifully. You feel that they can defy whatever obstacles that they might face to be together forever.
Diana continues to struggle with being a witch. Throughout the book, she tries to learn the basic spells but, then, comes to discover that she is a truly special witch. She is the subject of prophecies and lore. Witches have been waiting long time for to arrive to save them. Diana thrives on structure and reason. Being a witch, she has to move beyond reason and rigidity and focus on faith and flow. Like Matthew, she must also face her past. She receives an unexpected visitor while a blessing, it brings great heartache. Again, Ms. Harkness writes beautifully about pain and strength that you feel deeply for Diana. What I liked the most was the Diana is finally able to control her fears and become a confident and powerful witch.
Matthew’s father, Philippe, is a tremendous character. He is larger than life. The relationship between father and son is heartbreaking and joyous. I’m so glad that his character was included. He gave a lot of depth and insight into Matthew and you can understand why Ysabeau was completely devastated by his death.
I loved meeting all the historical figures of Elizabeth England. As a historian, Diana was so overwhelmed with each introduction. For instance, when Diana first met Queen Elizabeth I, I thought she would literally pass out, as would I. I enjoyed the different view that Ms. Harkness gave to some of the characters. Christopher Marlowe was not what I expected but that character fit well in the overall story. All the characters really jump off the page.
I did miss all the wine references that were throughout A Discovery of Witches. The sight and smell of each wine gave the book so much texture. I really missed that in Shadow of Night. There were parts of the book that I found a little silly. I had a difficult time imagining Diana and Matthew performing in a Goddess of the Moon masque. I, also, found Rudolf II a little tedious with his outpouring of affections.
Overall, I loved this book. I can’t wait for the third and final installment. It is such a beautiful story and I can’t wait to see how it ends.