Shadow of Night
Viking Adult, July 10, 2012
Review by Fel Wetzig
Before you read this, I suggest reading A Discovery of Witches since this one picks up right where that book leaves off. You wouldn’t want to spoil anything right?
Diana and Matthew land on the floor of the Old Lodge in 16th century Woodstock. That’s where the story begins. How to explain where it goes from there without giving away any spoilers is quite a task, but here goes. Diana has, as you may remember from A Discovery of Witches, come back to 1590 so that she can learn magic from a more powerful witch than she would have been able to find in her own time as well as to track down the elusive Ashmole 782. She learns that in this time Matthew de Clermont is Matthew Roydon, an English poet associated with the School of Night, which meets regularly at the Old Lodge. Almost immediately upon arriving in the past, Matthew’s servants discover that he is not the Matthew they know from the 16th century and Diana is more than slightly out of place. Acquiring a teacher for Diana won’t be a simple feat, especially with witch hunts going on in Scotland and curious eyes everywhere.
The characters are addicting. Even the secondary characters are rich–no one makes an appearance without creating a ripple in the story. If you fell in love with Matthew and Diana in the first book, expect to do it all over again. In ADOW, Hamish warned Diana that Matthew would not be the same in the past, and Midway through Shadow of Night it was obvious neither Matthew or Diana could be the same pair they were when they met in the 21st century. My favorite part, one among many, was the trip back to Sept-Tours, where we finally meet Philippe. He is just as complicated as indicated in ADOW and possibly more so. It’s a struggle for Diana to be treated as anything more than an outsider and, despite any argument, Philippe refuses to acknowledge her as Matthew’s wife.
I also enjoyed the historical settings and famous people encountered in the novel. Harkness’ background as a historian came into full light with this novel. The attention to culture, architecture, language and detail is commendable. As any historian does, Diana often wondered what it would be like to experience the past first hand, but once granted the opportunity, she realized that even someone “schooled” in the past couldn’t blend in so easily. Her initial struggle was enjoyable, and yet frustrating as she fought to be perfect and in control, while Matthew stepped into his traditional 16th century role as the boss (although honestly it’s not much different than his any century role).
There were a few minor things I took issue with as the story progressed, but to reveal them would also force me to include some major spoilers. I don’t want to deny readers the chance to experience this world as Matthew and Diana did.
My verdict- what you’re still here? Go read the book! I’m ready for a second round.
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