A Discovery of Witches: Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness
Available on Goodreads
My rating: 4/5
Beware: Contains spoilers for A Discovery of Witches.
I loved A Discovery of Witches (ADOW), but Shadow of Night (SON) has definitely removed it from top spot in my affections. It was exciting to read and much like – no – even more so than the first instalment of the All Souls trilogy, I found SON difficult to put down.
SON picks up where ADOW left off, on the other side of Diana and Matthew’s time-jump to Elizabethan London. There, Diana goes about coming to grips with being an Elizabethan woman and Matthew tries to settle into being, or at least seeming to be, the vampire that he once was and managing the responsibilities that come along with that. Along the way plenty of new characters get added into the mix, including Matthew’s notable friends from the past – the School of Night. On top of all this, Diana and Matthew go about doing what they travelled to the past to do; to find a magic tutor for Diana and Ashmole 782.
Where ADOW depicts the whirlwind romance between Diana and Matthew, SON shows the love between Diana and Matthew deepen and strengthen. As they spend more time together and learn more about each other their relationship develops more and more into a true partnership. And not only does their relationship develop, but Diana and Matthew also develop as characters. Diana starts to come into her own and becomes a stronger and more active. As for Matthew, the book starts to reveal more about him through interaction with his past as well as what he starts to share himself. Considering my previous criticisms of the characters and the relationship I really enjoyed seeing this progress.
As for the other characters in SON, new characters are a-plenty. These new characters include Deborah Harkness’ completely imagined creations as well as those based on historical figures, which Harkness integrated seamlessly into the All Souls world. In doing this Harkness proves once again that there really are benefits to writing what you know. Considering all the new characters, “real” and fictitious alike, some are likeable, even lovable, whilst others make perfect antagonists. Nevertheless, all are intriguing and great additions to the story.
In addition to new characters, SON brings with it a new structure. The book is broken into six parts and each part has its own internal arc but also contributes to the overall narrative. Each of the six parts brings with it new characters and new intrigue, which serves to increase the pace and keep the excitement of the book high from start to finish. I really quite enjoyed the new structure used in SON and I definitely think it helped encourage me to finish this book more quickly than the first.
SON also differs from ADOW by employing more point-of-view (POV) chapters from characters besides Diana. Whilst, the chapters don’t necessarily move the story forward, they do provide information and help establish some of the story outside Diana and Matthew. Though, I sometimes felt slowed by these chapters and frustrated to not be reading about Diana and Matthew’s adventures, I did appreciate how smartly they were used and the insight they offered.
Throughout SON the mysteries that arose in ADOW continue to be revealed. Intriguingly, the reveals are slow and as more information starts to come light the questions somehow multiply. And that’s the sign of a good mystery if you ask me.
SON has left me more and I can’t wait to read The Book of Life, the final instalment of the All Souls trilogy.
Looking forward to season 2
Reading SON leaves me in a rare predicament. I’ve only ever read the book before seeing the adaptation once before. (It was the Great Gatsby.)
It’s curious to be looking at it from the other side. Instead of looking forward to more characters and more insight, I’m left wondering what and who will get left out. How well will they be able to realise the book in live action? Will all the characters I’ve come to know and love be the same?
Nevertheless, I am stoked to be getting to witness the events of the books play out in live action and as worried as I may be about what might get changed, I’m also intrigued to find out what the creators do with this story that I now love.
It will also be interesting to see if the new season will be strong enough for the TV show to remain superior to the book in my opinion. Given how much I loved SON, the next season will have to be at least equally as good for the TV series to keep my favour.