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Summer Reading Challenge 2016: Shadow of Night

I finished this book in one day. Sure, I had started the first couple of chapters at a different time but the rest was done on a recent dreary day when I could think of nothing else but finding out how Matthew and Diana would survive Europe in 1590. Because of course they survive; there is a third book to read after all!

From poets to vampire rulers, London children to an Emperor and Queen Elizabeth I, Deborah Harkness’ second installment of the All Souls Trilogy was not lacking in characters. With that said, at no point did I feel overwhelmed, even when she abruptly switched back to the 21st Century here and there; the fluidity of her language made it easy and more interesting to follow along. Harkness also wasted no time in diving into the action; I was expecting a slower transition from A Discovery of Witches at first, but realized that was a silly expectation since there was little establishment of characters – and of the world – to be done in this second novel, regardless of Matthew and Diana’s time travelling journey.

If you read the first novel in this trilogy, you will continue to enjoy the story but may be disappointed at how quickly this part passes. Unlike in A Discovery of WitchesShadow of Night had scant surprises and moments of gasping horror. With every chapter I thought I would be faced with a heartbreaking, head-spinning turn of events but that never really happened, with the exception of Louisa and Christopher “Kit” Marlowe’s attempted murder of Diana. The lack of gut-wrenching shock would have been more disappointing if Deborah Harkness hadn’t filled the novel with historical details and plenty of other action – yes, Diana meets more witches and learns about the core of her power (and also encounters an extremely important character, whose identity I won’t spoil in case you come across this discussion before reading the book yourself) which is incredibly satisfying.

At the end of the novel we learn an important figure from the present day has died as a result of a new life, and that Diana is carrying twins – an impossibility in their magical world. She does bring both her and Matthew back to this century, and we are left in anticipation of what is surely a war to come.

Luckily for me, the final piece of this three part puzzle, The Book of Life, was available for me to put on hold at the library, and I currently have it in my possession so I know I will finish it before the official end of my Summer Reading Challenge as I planned (this post explains how long I drag out my literary summer). And, I’m not going to wait any longer. Share your thoughts on this second book in the All Souls Trilogy, or your thoughts on all three books in the comments, and stay tuned for my final thoughts. Happy reading!

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