Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness – Book

Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness is the sequel to the book A Discovery of Witches which was on the NYT Bestseller’s List for a time last year. In A Discovery of Witches, Diana Bishop, a graduate student in London studying the history of alchemy, writes out a call slip for some books while studying at the Bodelian Library and one of the books that is delivered to her is an ancient manuscript called Ashmole 782, which no one has been able to access for centuries. She has no idea how important this book is to the “creatures” of the world; the vampires, the daemons, and the witches. She notes that three pages are missing from the book and sees that the text is unreadable, so she sends it back.

The moment Diana calls this book out of “the stacks” her life changes forever. A very handsome vampire, Matthew de Claremont, falls in love with her and vampires in love are formidable. They do not like to share. Fortunately, Diana finds that she is in love with Matthew also. Unfortunately creatures are not supposed to have mixed relationship and Diana is a witch. Diana is a very powerful witch but she does not understand her powers or know how to use them as she has been spellbound. After a rather serious attack by a powerful witch and after having to deal with a great deal of hostility and unwanted attention from other creatures, Diana and Matthew go to stay with Diana’s mom and her partner. They need to learn how to travel through time back to 1590 to find witches who will teach Diana about her magic, and where they will, they hope be able to find Ashmole 782 before the crucial first three pages were torn from it.

Deborah Harkness sucks us in again to another book that it is difficult to put down. Matthew and Diana are the kind of characters to whom we have no difficulty getting attached. Ms. Harkness is a master of dialogue; her characters say things that are both natural and amusing. We meet Christopher Marlowe, Will Shakespeare, Queen Elizabeth I and other lesser known people who were hanging around our planet in 1590. There is plenty of suspense. Witches were not as safe from persecution in 1590 as Matthew remembered. Diana has to understand her own magic before she will know how to travel back to 2009. What do they learn about Ashmole 782? I can’t wait for Book 3 in this All Souls’ Trilogy, which is supposed to unravel all these mysteries and more.

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