Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

Shadow of Night

Deborah Harkness

Diana and Matthew take 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. 


Shadow of Night is the second instalment of the All Souls Trilogy which began with A Discovery of Witches, however it is a huge disappointment from start to finish.At the end of the first book, Matthew and Diana time travel back in history to keep Diana safe and give her a chance to learn how to control her witch powers. For the life of me, I cannot fathom why Matthew would deliberately choose to take Diana back to a period in time, namely Elizabethan England, when she would be in even more danger than in the future. Matthew is supposed to be of above average intelligence but it is completely illogical for him to have taken Diana back to a time when witch hunts were prevalent and Diana’s physical appearance, not to mention accent, would make her stand out like a sore thumb.

The time travel aspects are completely ludicrous as Elizabethan Matthew suddenly disappears to avoid having two Matthews in the same time period and we are expected to believe that once modern Matthew returns to his correct time, Elizabethan Matthew will come back to his life and go on as before. Will their return to the future erase the memory of everyone they’ve come into contact with? How is Elizabethan Matthew going to explain where he’s been for seven months and the whereabouts of a wife he knows nothing about?

Diana’s powers are as useless in the past as they are in the future and she spends most of the novel trying to fit in to the time period with no regard to the consequences her actions may have on the future. There are whole passages of Diana writing useless bits of information in her diary while practicing her handwriting, followed by endless descriptions of her wardrobe.

It’s clear the Elizabethan period is one of the author’s favourite times in history but this whole book smacks of self-indulgence on her part as much of the content is unnecessary and does nothing to advance the plot. There’s a famous person around every corner, presumably so Diana could experience the thrill of meeting people she’s read about in her history books. The addition of these characters does nothing to help the story and is a complete waste of time.

The only part of the book I found remotely interesting was the time Matthew and Diana spent at Sept Tours, giving us a chance to meet Philippe at last. Philippe is such a big part of the first book, despite his death, so it was good to finally meet him. Although, even in France, Harkness can’t pass up a chance to have famous people scattered in her characters lives. Plus, there are so many humans mingled in the lives of the other creatures, I’m surprised their existence is still a secret in the future.

Harkness maintains the trilogy is a love story so this should have been its saving grace, but even this falls flat. Matthew and Diana’s marriage was never consummated in the first book so when the deed is finally done, it should have been worth the anticipation. It wasn’t. The chemistry evident in the first book seems to have disappeared along with the common sense, and I was left wondering why they were even together. I can’t remember the last time I was so disappointed in a sequel and I’m not sure I’m even going to read the last part of this trilogy.